Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Something must be known and felt

I have recently been reading Stuart Olyott's book Something must be known and felt and last Monday led a discussion group on the book up at the John Owen Centre. We were a good number (about eight). I had been a little nervous as although I'm a big fan of Dr Olyott I found myself disagreeing with things he says in this book quite a bit. We are a fairly diverse group and I thought maybe someone would have been more enthusiastic than I am. As it turned out we were pretty uniform in our reaction. We all agreed that this book or something like it needed to be written and we did accept that it goes some way to setting out some of the things we think are being forgotten. However, we were also agreed that this is not quite the book we have been waiting for. The book is written in a fairly generalised way not wanting to get bogged down in detail and ends up making sweeping statements and assertions that are hard to substantiate (for example, the idea that Luther was clearly mistaken and taught that the Word does it all). No-one was entirely happy with the Edwardsean understanding of the soul and none of us were happy with the penultimate chapter about the prayer of faith. So, a flawed book but inching towards some sort of a defence of Calvinistic Methodism or Experiential Calvinism, whatever you want to call it.

4 comments:

frederick serjeant said...

I was pleased ho read your comments because I thought I was being over-critical. Being a 'fan' of Stuart Olyott, I thought this was going to be the book that would answer my questions about "experience" and faith.
I found he started with wrong precepts leading to mixed or even false conclusions - especially in relation to the Biblical concepts of "spirit-soul". So I abandoned the book half-way through.

Gary Brady said...

I'm a fan too. It's worth reading to the end but ever harder to agree with.

David Gallie said...

Thank you for your review. I'm a fan of Stuart Olyott and read the book too. It raised a few issues for me. E.g. I was surprised that he regards the affections as part of the will (I've always considered the understanding, the affections and the will to be three faculties of the soul). Anyway, I wrote to him via his publisher asking a few questions about his book (a complete first for me). I'd have been very grateful for a reply, but I got much more than that - it turns out he lives about 40 minutes from me and he wrote back suggesting we meet up. In the event he and his wife came to visit us. It was a great joy to meet them both and to talk with him but I was astonished that a man of his stature was willing to put himself out for me - a complete stranger. Surely a gracious characteristic of the Master.

Gary Brady said...

David That doesn't surprise me about Stuart Olyott though it was very gracious. On the other side, as a writer myself I know that to get any response at all to a book is good news.