Theology, piety, and practice— regular Heidelblog readers and Heidelcast listeners will be familiar with that formula. In classic and confessional Reformed Christianity these three things have always been understood to be intimately, organically related to each other. Our piety flows from our theology and our practice flows from our theology and our piety and they, in turn, shape our theology. The medieval theologians expressed this connection with a slogan: “the law of prayer is the law of believing” (lex orandi, lex credendi). The modern American evangelical traditions, however, as products of the Pietist movement, have tended to separate the three. Doctrine is regarded as pure theory and often immaterial to true Christianity. Practice is more determined by pragmatic considerations than by doctrine. Piety is the chief thing. So, in the Modern and Late Modern periods, Reformed piety has often been colored by Pietism and pragmatism. Our approach to personal piety, family piety, and corporate piety has been neglected or is misunderstood. Part of recovering the Reformed confession, however, is to recover Reformed piety.
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Scott (et al.),
Thanks for linking to the Chris Gordon (no relation, except in Christ) article on the confessional tradition and devotions. I have often used the Westminster Larger Catechism’s exposition of the decalogue devotionally. On an ordinary month, one can go through it thrice: read the first commandment on the 1, 11, and 21 of the month, the second on the 2, 12, 22, etc. Their precision provides excellent material for reflection and self-examination. This summer, I’ve been stretching it out, and I copy one Q/A into a notebook by hand, an old practice I first developed for learning poems. This slows one down, and causes one to notice details.
T. David Gordon
Thank you David. This is very helpful. As it happens I’m revising/re-writing, for publication, a commentary on the Heidelberg and I’m on the Decalogue. Good timing!