Category : Church History

C H Spurgeon on God’s Condescension in Philippians 2

What will not Christ do for us who have been given to him by his Father? There is no measure to his love; you cannot comprehend his grace. Oh, how we ought to love him, and serve him! The lower he stoops to save us, the higher we ought to lift him in our adoring reverence. Blessed be his name, he stoops, and stoops, and stoops, and, when he reaches our level, and becomes man, he still stoops, and stoops, and stoops lower and deeper yet: “Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself.”

–C H. Spurgeon from a sermon on June 05, 1890 quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon here in the parish in which I serve

Posted in Christology, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(CC) Philip Jenkins–To understand African Christianity, remember the Battle of Adwa

The new war culminated on March 1, 1896, at Adwa, when the Italian force of around 18,000 allowed itself to be drawn into battle against an Ethiopian army at least six times larger. The Italian force was utterly destroyed as a fighting unit, suffering at least 6,000 dead and losing all artillery and equipment. Only Menelik’s diplomatic sense and restraint prevented his forces from sweeping up all the now defenseless Italian territory that remained on the Red Sea. Why risk his gains when he already had achieved everything he needed? (The campaign is expertly described in Raymond Jonas’s 2011 study The Battle of Adwa.)

The sheer scale of the European catastrophe demands attention. This was a period when White empires might lose the occasional battle, as the British had to the Zulus some years before, but they certainly did not lose whole wars to despised Black Africans. Nor did the familiar stereotype allow for a situation where African commanders outmaneuvered imperial invaders and deployed modern weaponry against them. To put such a reversal of expectations in a US context, we would have to imagine an alternate world where Native forces both triumphed at Little Bighorn and then went on to secure the independence of the whole Black Hills region for a generation.

That context explains the very long shadow cast by Adwa, on Europeans and Africans alike. Italy recalled the battle as an epic humiliation, a horror made all the worse by propaganda tales of the atrocities inflicted on their prisoners of war….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Church History, Ethiopia, Italy, Military / Armed Forces

The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch looks back to 1817–Episcopal priest Philander Chase Comes to Preach

On May 3, 1817, he conducted the first…[Episcopal] service in Columbus at the Buckeye House hotel.

Four days later, he preached again at the High Street home of storekeeper Lincoln Goodale. “Some of those who came were merely curious. Others believed that God’s inerrant providence brought them to that spot. All listened with reverence as Chase intoned the service from the Book of Common Prayer and preached to them,” Lisa M. Klein wrote in her 2003 history of Trinity Episcopal Church, Be It Remembered.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philander Chase

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Matthew

We thank thee, heavenly Father, for the witness of thine apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Theodore of Tarsus

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

An EB Pusey Sermon for his Feast Day–“Patience and Confidence the Strength of the Church” (1837)

The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James’s tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;–and we cherish their memories.

The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.

In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man’s sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other’s breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God’s Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch’s early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying up in the monarch’s soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, “a man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” “The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day’s service, find a striking completion in this history. “God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity–they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves.”

But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edward Bouverie Pusey

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ninian of Galloway

O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant and bishop Ninian didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we beseech thee, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show forth our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Chisolm

Merciful God, who didst call thy priest James Chisholm to sacrifice his life while working amid great suffering and death: Help us, like him, to live by the faith we profess, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Charles Spurgeon Sermon for Holy Cross Day–The Death of Christ for His People

O heir of heaven, lift now thine eye, and behold the scenes of suffering through which thy Lord passed for thy sake! Come in the moonlight, and stand between those olives; see him sweat great drops of blood. Go from that garden, and follow him to Pilate’s bar. See your Matter subjected to the grossest and filthiest insult; gaze upon the face of spotless beauty defiled with the spittle of soldiers; see his head pierced with thorns; mark his back, all rent, and torn, and scarred, and bruised, and bleeding beneath the terrible lash. And O Christian, see him die! Go and stand where his mother stood, and hear him say to thee, “Man, behold thy Saviour!” Come thou to-night, and stand where John stood; hear him cry, “I thirst,” and find thyself unable either to assuage his griefs or to comprehend their bitterness. Then, when thou hast wept there, lift thine hand, and cry, “Revenge!” Bring out the traitors; where are they? And when your sins are brought forth as the murderers of Christ, let no death be too painful for them; though it should involve the cutting off of right arms, or the quenching of right eyes, and putting out their light for ever; do it! For if these murderers murdered Christ, then let them die. Die terribly they may, but die they must. Oh! that God the Holy Ghost would teach you that first lesson, my brethren, the boundless wickedness of sin, for Christ had to lay down his life before your sin could be wiped away.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

The Lamb of God, a sermon by Bishop John Henry Hobart for his Feast Day

The striking and appropriate terms in which the prophet Isaiah depicts the character and offices of the Messiah, have procured for him, by way of eminence, the title of the Evangelical Prophet. He exhibits a glowing but faithful picture of the character of Christ, and all the humiliating and all the triumphant events of his life. In the chapter which contains my text, the prophet has dipped his pencil in the softest colours, and draws a portrait of the Saviour, which, while it conveys to us the most exalted ideas of his character, is calculated to awaken our tenderest and liveliest sympathy.

Let us then contemplate the character of Christ, as delineated by the prophet under the emblem of “a lamb brought to the slaughter,” that our penitence may be awakened, our gratitude enlivened, and our souls warmed with the ardent emotions of love and duty.

Under the character of a “lamb brought to the slaughter,” we are led to consider,

The innocence of Christ;

His tenderness and compassion;

His patience;

And, finally, to consider him as the victim for our sins.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Henry Hobart

Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Harry Thacker Burleigh

God, our strong deliverer: We bless thy Name for the grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh, who didst lift up in song the struggles of thy people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us and thy whole Church to raise our distinct voices into one great harmony of praise; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Alexander Crummell (1819-1898)

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Alexander Crummell, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Constance and her Companions

We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(ABC Aus) Sean Winter–Cultivating patience, and working for justice, in the face of hardship

The first is patience. This is the idea that little is to be gained by allowing the arrival of adverse circumstances to distract us from doing what we have always know to be good, and right, and of enduring value. Paul names what endures in terms that lie at the heart of a Christian vision of human flourishing: sincerity, kindness, love, truth, and the assurance of God’s presence and power.

It is notable, however, that these virtues are not named in isolation, as abstract ethical or theological principles that are somehow to be imbibed, or believed. The list begins with a hard gaze on the reality of deprivation and distress, the all-too-human locations and manifestations of external circumstances placing a life under significant stress. The preposition used throughout is the Greek word “in” (en). In the initial list of circumstances it refers to these various locations of adversity, but in the second list of virtues the meaning shifts to connote the commitments that we make in the face of such distress and difficulty. It is in plagues that we discover what it means to live with genuine love. It is in protests that we can find out test our capacity to speak with truthful words.

The cultivation of patience became something of a theme in the life of the church in the early centuries. Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, and Augustine all wrote explicitly about patience in the tumultuous context of North Africa in the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era. The Mennonite historian Alan Kreider has argued that the church’s commitment to this (non-violent) “lost bequest” of patience undergirded the church’s self-understanding and mission in the early centuries, before giving way to forms of violent impatience in the form of Christendom.

This ability to respond to deprivation, persecution, and adversity through the patient cultivation of core Christian virtues proved to be a “fermenting” presence within the wider world of antiquity. It bore witness to a way of life that was characterised by hope in a God who relates to creation with continual forbearance. Crucially, it was deeds and not creeds that really mattered. As Cyprian put it in his treatise on De Bono Patientia (“On the Good of Patience”): “we do not speak great things, but we live them.” Only this kind of embodied patience provides strength in “the varied ills of the flesh and frequent and severe torments of the body with which the human race is daily harassed and wearied.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tuesday Inspiration–John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334 (cited by yours truly in the Sunday sermon)

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Søren Kierkegaard

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Denmark, Philosophy, Spirituality/Prayer

A Short description of Jan Hus from the Virtual Museum of Protestantism

He protested against the ecclesiastical system, he preached in favour of reform in the Church and advocated a return to the poverty recommended by the Scriptures. Indeed, the Scriptures were the only rule and every man had the right to study them. In Questio de indulgentis (1412) he denounced the indulgences.

He admired Wyclif’s writings and defended him when he was condemned as a heretic. He was excommunicated. An interdict was pronounced over Prague and he had to leave it and go to southern Bohemia, where he preached and wrote theological treatises, notably the Tractatus de ecclesia (1413), known as «The Church».

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Czech Republic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jan Hus

Faithful God, who didst give Jan Hus the courage to confess thy truth and recall thy Church to the image of Christ: Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against corruption and never cease to pray for our enemies, that we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Moses the Black

Almighty God, whose blessed Son dost guide our footsteps into the way of peace: Deliver us from paths of hatred and violence, that we, following the example of thy servant Moses, may serve thee with singleness of heart and attain to the tranquility of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the witness of Harriett Beecher Stowe, whose fiction inspired thousands with compassion for the shame and sufferings of enslaved peoples, and who enriched her writings with the cadences of The Book of Common Prayer. Help us, like her, to strive for thy justice, that our eyes may see the glory of thy Son, Jesus Christ, when he comes to reign with thee and the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and peace, one God, now and always. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of St. Peter and St. Paul

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

Bishop Charles Grafton on Cornelius Hill for his Feast Day

From here:

Not unworthy of record among these devoted servants of Christ is the name of the Rev. Cornelius Hill. He was the oldest and last of the Oneida Chiefs and from an early age had taken his seat in the Indian Councils. He bore the name of Chief Onon-Gwat-Ga, or Great Medicine, and was one of the most influential in the tribe. He became converted to Christianity, studied at one time at Nashotah, was the interpreter in the Church for many years until the day of his death; was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by myself; at one time was sent to the General Convention from this Diocese and was ever a most earnest and devoted and faithful Christian and Churchman.

It is owing, in no small measure, to his example and teaching that the tribe has so progressed in temporal civilization and in its spiritual life. There is, as it is well known, no remaining party of heathen on the reservation. The Indians are for the most part loyal and devoted children of the Church.

By their zeal and devotion they are, in many ways, an example to us white Americans. I cannot speak of Father Hill’s loving loyalty to myself without much feeling. His name will ever be cherished amongst his people and held in high regard in our Diocese.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cornelius Hill

Everliving Lord of the universe, our loving God, who raised up thy priest Cornelius Hill, last hereditary chief of the Oneida nation, to shepherd and defend his people against attempts to scatter them in the wilderness: Help us, like him, to be dedicated to truth and honor, that we may come to that blessed state thou hast prepared for us; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(HDS) Brett Malcolm Grainger reviews Bruce Hindmarsh new book ‘The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World’

The evangelical reversal on spirituality has happened alongside scholarly reappraisals. In recent decades, historians such as W. R. Ward (Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670–1789, 2006), Isabel Rivers (Vanity Fair and the Celestial City: Dissenting, Methodist, and Evangelical Literary Culture in England, 1720–1800, 2018), Tom Schwanda (Soul Recreation: The Contemplative-Mystical Piety of Puritanism, 2012), John Coffey (ed., Heart Religion: Evangelical Piety in England and Ireland, 1690–1850, 2016), and Phyllis Mack (Heart Religion in the British Enlightenment: Gender and Emotions in Early Methodism, 2012) have issued a torrent of insightful studies on the lived religion of early evangelicalism, looking into topics as diverse as dreaming, hymnody, emotions, attitudes toward nature, and the influence of Catholic spiritual traditions.1 Bruce D. Hindmarsh’s recent book, The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism, builds on these accomplishments, offering what is perhaps the most complete and far-ranging assessment of early evangelical spiritual life as it relates to contemporary developments in science, law, art, and literature. In some ways, the book functions as a companion to Hindmarsh’s The Evangelical Conversion Narrative, which explored traditions of spiritual autobiography in evangelical narratives of conversion. In this earlier volume Hindmarsh revealed how conversion often worked as a kind of viral outbreak within religious ecosystems. These sudden spiritual awakenings promoted novel forms of religious community built around the central ritual of narrating a personal experience of the new birth. The Bible played a crucial role in these spiritual practices. For early evangelicals, the Bible never constituted a divine download of impersonal dogma: scripture communicated a direct and personal message in God’s own voice to men and women willing to listen to it.

Another distinguishing mark of evangelicalism, Hindmarsh argued, was its historical liminality. The movement emerged, he wrote, “at the trailing edge of Christendom and the leading edge of modernity,”2 helping people move from collective identities rooted in church membership to stronger notions of the self, individual, and personal faith. If his previous work stressed the internal diversity of early evangelicalism—demonstrating the disparate constructions of selfhood that emerged among Methodists, Moravians, Anglicans, and Baptists—the new book sees more forest than trees. Evangelicals, regardless of their sectarian affiliation, Hindmarsh writes, perceived “one thing needful” in the Christian life: “the democratized pursuit of the new birth.” In other words, while conversion remains the focus of The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism, this new work offers a more expansive cultural account of the practical implications that flowed from making “true religion” (3) a matter of transformative personal religious experience.

As Hindmarsh describes the spiritual ambitions of early evangelicals, what emerges is something more intellectually substantive and expansive than “I saw the light.” (Sorry, Hank.) Evangelical spirituality encompassed the preparation for, experience of, and the practical repercussions that flowed from the relentless pursuit of what Henry Scougal called “the life of God in the soul of man.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History, Evangelicals