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11.16.2005

The Puritans kept journals



Yes, the Puritans kept jounrals. Why, you might ask, did the Puritans keep journals? Because when you become serious about the Faith you take the crucial step from reading and talking about the Faith -- to doing the Faith. And without recording aims and the accomplishing of aims, and observations and insights, you tend to not do anything, ultimately. You tend to be desultory in your efforts and nebulous in your purpose when you don't hold yourself to a written record.

Many 'busy people' understand the practical usefulness of a 'to do' list. It enables you to remember what you commited to doing, for one thing. What you have previously formulated when your mind was clear about what you 'had to do'. What was important for you to get done. Then the list becomes an incentive to actually do each thing. (There is power in that act of 'checking off' an item on a to-do list.)

So the Puritans would do that except instead of worldly tasks they recorded spiritual tasks. "Was I awake to God in that event that happened today [etc.] or was I in psychological and emotional bondage to the impressions and forces of the world around me (and my own uncontrolled imagination) and forgetful of myself and forgetful of being separated from the world and forgetful of my own presence and autonomy I can only have when I am oriented to remember myself in regard to God above me and so be able to do what glorifies God rather than doing what the world, in my sleeping state, is able to have me do."

So that would be a good example of something a Puritan would write down in a journal. The specific events he/she found him/herself in during the course of that day. (It would be something in the category of the first great commandment, to love God; in this case to be awake to God to begin with in the midst of the worldly events of your average - or even not-so-average - day.) A further formulated aim along those lines would be to say, at the beginning of the next day, I'm going to be awake to each event I find myself in in the moment, i.e. in real time, today, as the day progresses, which is more difficult to do than just remembering each event at the end of the day and recording them.

An example of an aim along the lines of the second great commandment (to love your neighbor as yourself) would be to consciously put yourself in the shoes of a person who, for whatever reason, real or imaginary, you become negative towards during the course of your day. And then actually recording each instance, if you are able to actually do it in real time.

The recording element keeps you honest and keeps you out of imagination (i.e. keeps you from merely 'thinking' you are doing it without actually picking up the shovel and digging the ditch).

A Christian can formulate many different aims based on the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus didn't say, "I tell you these things not because you should make efforts to do them, but...just because. The Spirit will do them for you. You don't even really need to know what I'm saying, I'm just filling up a word-count here in these Gospels..." Jesus said do this, do this, do this...

4 Comments:

Blogger L P Cruz said...

When the Lord commands, does he expect you to do them perfectly or good enough or best effort is ok?

November 16, 2005 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

When the Lord commands, does he expect you to do them perfectly or good enough or best effort is ok?

He expects all the above. If you are regenerated then all is 'ok'. Whether the least effort is 'ok' with you, though, is another matter.

Because you're asking the question wrongly in a context of justification (and you are conflating justification and all aspects of sanctification) the best answer for you and your off-the-mark understanding is all the above.

If a plain reading of the Word of God tells you that when the Bible says love your enemy or mortify your sinful nature you read that as saying sit on your butt and do nothing because the Spirit will do it all for you within you then you have a reading comprehension problem to go along with the bad doctrine you've been fed.

Really, I.P., you have to get it out of your mind that effort in sanctification compromises faith alone or the absolute nature of justification. Get a good Reformed systematic theology and read the section on sanctification. You have to deny Reformed Theology itself - biblical doctrine itself - to hold your common position.

November 17, 2005 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger c.t. said...

One shouldn't have to draw this example, but the Bible says we're sanctified by the Word of God. Reading the Word of God requires effort. Or do the 'no effort' advocates think one can be sanctified by the Word of God without ever making the effort to actually engage the Word of God.

And please, I hope no one will say: that means only 'hearing' the Word of God read by a minister with a seminary degree... Yes, hearing takes less effort than reading, so that would fall in line with the 'no effort' belief...

The above paragraph actually is not a joke. William Ames had to rebuke fools in his day who argued that the Word of God was only to be 'heard'. The fact that Jesus Himself says "Have ye never read" ten or more times in the Gospels is just able, apparently, to slip by one who is in that 'no effort' state of mind...

November 17, 2005 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger L P Cruz said...

The question is do you cooperate on an equal basis in your effort? Your language of synergism is very Roman. Where as they conflate them (justification and sanctification), you separate them. The reformation view is distinguish but not separate.

And whaterver you say, your profanity betrays your teaching. You see speck in other's eye but you do not see the log in yours. Part of holiness is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. You probably think gentleness and respect is a sign of the fear of man. You probably think you are Jesus.

November 21, 2005 at 9:06 PM  

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