Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Humanism of Individualistic Piety

How many of us have almost slammed our heads against the wall for having failed over and over again at being consistent with our quiet times? I would think the majority. It seems to me that this emphasis on individualistic piety has more to do with the humanism that has infected the church than it does with the application of biblical doctrine. It almost is an unspoken dogma that being unwavering in one's private times of devotion is superior to going to church every Lord's Day in order to partake of God's blessings through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments, corporate prayer and worship, and fellowship among the brethren. I think it's about time that a radical shift in emphasis ensues.

"Many Christians today associate words like piety, devotion, spirituality, and Christian life with things a believer does in private. 'How's your walk?' is shorthand really for asking how well you are keeping up with your personal Bible reading, devotions, and other spiritual disciplines. None of these are wrong, of course. In fact, Jesus modeled getting alone regularly to read Scripture and pray. Nevertheless, a covenantal orientation places much more emphasis on what we do together, with each other and for each other. This in no way entails that we do what we should, but there is an interrelational focus in covenant theology that is different from individualistic pieties. As University of Edinburgh historical theologian David F. Wright notes, 'The piety Calvin advocated was largely communal, churchly. There is much here about `frequenting the sermons` and sharing in the Lord's supper, but very little about individual devotional reading of the Bible or daily routines of prayer, let alone group Bible studies or prayer groups.'"

- Michael Horton, Introducing Covenant Theology, ch. 9, p. 179.

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