Reformed Spirituality

Christ the Center hits the road for a series of episodes at Bethel OPC in Wheaton, Illinois. In our first of the series, A. Craig Troxel speaks about Reformed spirituality. Dr. Troxel is pastor of Bethel OPC in Wheaton and teaches adjunct at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has taught courses on Reformed Spirituality at both institutions.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Jeff Downs

3 years ago

Reformed Spirituality is a required course at GPTS:


3 years ago

Rev. Toxel’s description of broad evangelical spirituality starting at minute 19:18 is dead on…

“absolutely appealing to a multistory experience and appealing to an over mystical view and a different understanding of faith–it’s almost like some worship is ‘we walk by sight not by faith’ when a word centered ministry, like what we have in the OPC and the PCA and other reformed churches, is word centered. Therefore it’s more plain…or more simple…it’s a very different thing.”

This is totally accurate from my experience in a variety of broad evangelical contexts over 15 years. In broad evangelicalism there are three means of grace though that term is not used: the dramatic conversion experience, the personal quiet time, and the small group bible study. These are primary with public worship and the real sacraments being not rejected but assumed and therefore subsumed as secondary.

The challenge is that when you try to even explain this nuance of focus to our evangelical siblings they don’t understand what you are talking about. They would likely grow offended that one would not consider their ministry word centered when they do quote from or study from the Bible on a very regular basis. They would then move to express concern about the lack of contextualization in reformed ministries resulting in a supposed lack of cultural relevance from their perspective. I would also add that the evangelical graduate schools now put a big emphasis on what they call ‘spiritual formation’.

At GCTS-Charlotte, where I matriculated, the closest one got to pastoral theology were two required classes call ‘Foundations for Ministry’ and another class called ‘Dynamics of Spiritual Life’. Focus was on practicing personal spiritual disciplines. Lovelace, Foster, Nowen, etc. and a Methodist minister named Robert Mulholland Jr., out of Asbury Seminary, were the primary readings. The loci of Pastoral or Practical Theology are not mentioned in the curriculum and the concept of means of grace are not mentioned or even known among the majority of students. What one absorbs is the idea that personal spiritual disciplines are the center of the Christian life.


3 years ago

Where can I find a bibliography for this episode?

Cedric Parsels

3 years ago

In the early years of Princeton Seminary, it was a graduation requirement that seminarians had to have read a certain selection of Reformed spiritual works (e.g., Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, etc.). When I was there from 2010-2013, this was no longer a requirement, but Bruce McCormack did teach a class on Reformed Spirituality. I don’t know how often the class is offered or what the content is.

Faithful listener

3 years ago

I cannot find the Lutheran book of prayer that was mentioned in this episode. Can you please help me? I would love to pick it up. Thank you!

Faithful listener

3 years ago

Found it thank you!

Nathan Strom

3 years ago

Take it from a son of Scandinavian Lutheranism…It is pronounced O-lee.


Sean Holland

3 years ago

Jesse Light

3 years ago

Where can I read more about Old’s 8 basic traits of Reformed spirituality mentioned by Rev. Troxel?

Kenneth Clayton

3 years ago

Anyone know where the quote of Owen saying if your church had less than 300 people it wasn’t good because pro ably didn’t have all the spiritual gifts?



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