AnonymousDeleted UserOctober 13, 2020 at 11:35 am
Thank you Ellie and Matthew for sharing this and I am truly sorry for the ways Reformed fundamentalism has traumatized you. Thank you for sticking with the reading. One of the challenges with historical sources is that we experience them through their interpreters. There is no shortage of scholars who say “Calvin was not a Calvinist!”–so much of the “new Calvinism” is a product of later centuries. Still, the Reformers, like anyone, had their blind spots and baggage. The polemics from this time (Protestant and Catholic) are really hard to take in. Their rhetoric is strange and offensive.
It helps me to remember that Calvin was a refugee in a city of refugees. He was attempting to pastor an international congregation of traumatized people in a time when the world was coming apart. One thing that genuinely distinguishes him from the “Young, Restless and Reformed” crowd was his tireless work for social justice reform–e.g. the creation of the diaconate, an empowered group of people who worked to secure the rights of the poor. It involved some major innovations (such as adding a floor to EVERY building in the city to make room for people, and making the city purchase a working stove for anyone who came to live there). I share this not to heroize–just humanize.
What I am hoping for in this reading exercise is that we meet a voice different than our own engaging with the central prayer of Christian spirituality. What is he saying about prayer and how does that stimulate our own thoughts about what really matters in the life of prayer? Does he think prayer or correct doctrine matters more in the Christian life?