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This is Part 2 in a series on the creeds and confessions based on a paper presented at The Prodigal Love of God conference at Dordt College.

“God created hand, head, and heart…A Christianity that neglects the mystic (spiritual) element grows frigid and congeals.”[1] This quote comes from Kuyper’s famous Stone lectures on Calvinism, and shows that within his “every square inch” theology and Calvinistic life-system was a commitment to the spiritual life of the Christian. The last few years have brought forth a number of Kuyper’s devotional volumes, revealing a vibrant faith built upon the living Word, Jesus Christ, and nurtured by the inscripturated Word: a faith that does not merely touch the mind, but also the heart and soul. 

Thus, it is surely a travesty that Reformed Christians are often referred to as “the frozen chosen,” and that neocalvinists in particular, are known more for their intellectualism and zeal for cultural renewal than for their personal godliness and a vibrant spirituality—a living, breathing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.[2] As much as anything else, it would seem that for our public witness and cultural engagement to be effective, we must reinvigorate the spiritual lives of those in our churches. 

Here, the creeds and confessions offer us a rich resource. They invite us, both intellectually and experientially, into the redemptive story unfolding in the pages of Scripture. The Belgic Confession poetically lays out the story of the Bible—of God, His creation, its fall, and redemption in Christ—as well the story of the church; a story oriented by Word, the Spirit, and sacrament. With its personal approach and warm tone, the Heidelberg catechism presents us with an invitation to deeper communion with Christ and fellowship with God through the Spirit by means of faithful obedience and prayer. And in the Canons of Dort, the lavish grace of God is poured out, assuring us of our salvation and swelling us with confidence that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ because of His call on our lives. 

In my work at the university, engaging students and faculty from a variety of Christian and non-Christian backgrounds, I often utilize the creeds and confessions: in prayer, as study materials, for responsive readings in small groups, and as resources for students to read in their devotional life. I do so because I believe them to be helpful in bringing clarity to many of their biblical-theological questions and concerns. But I also do so because of the ways I have seen this practice bring revitalization to their spiritual lives, propelling them to prayer and a greater affection for God, His Word, and His work in the world. 

Cultural engagement flows out from, and builds upon, knowing and experiencing the God who creates, redeems, and directs us in the ways we should go. With their wealth of biblical references, rich theology, and varied formats, as well as their testimony to the ongoing nature of the redemptive story, the confessions are prime candidates for reinvigorating the frigid and congealing spiritual life of many weary saints, and providing that all-important spiritual milk for new believers. 

Next week, we will move from individual spiritual revitalization to church reorientation around the Christian ground-motive of Creation, Fall, and Redemption.

[1] Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism: Six Stone-lectures (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1931), 282.  
[2] Al Wolters, “What is to Be Done Toward a Neocalvinist Agenda,” Comment, December 1, 2005.