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Seeing something in a different context can be powerful

Here is an exercise to find the most powerful sources and presentation of the Christian faith.

Imagine you are presenting the Christian faith to a semi-interested Muslim (and think Jihadist, though not a mentally disturbed one or a purely sadistic one, but a more thoughtful one who is just deceived in a big way...let's keep this within the realm of possibility, though the Holy Spirit can conquer any stony and rebellious heart).

The first part of the approach, it seems to me, would be to not necessarily steer the Muslim away from a human teacher. We might think, Muhammad, the human, has defiled enough minds, let's steer them towards the word of God and the Holy Spirit for their teacher.

Yet in Christianity there are schools. We tend to think in terms of branches and denominations, but really we should think in terms of schools. John Knox called Calvin's Geneva the best school of Christ. This is the sense I mean.

What teacher (prophet, small 'p') would be the highest school? Undoubtedly it is John Calvin. And the parallel is convenient. Muhammad, the prophet of the desert (false prophet of course), and Calvin, the prophet of the mountain. A Muslim could admire this prophet, Calvin, if he or she got to know him. (And we are doing this exercise for ourselves as well remember).

Who were the ultimate followers of the school of Calvin? The Puritans. Again, a Muslim could admire these Puritans, as he or she got to know them.

What is the most powerful book to learn of this school from? Undoubtedly the Bible itself. Yet a Muslim could see the power in adopting the Authorized, 1611 Version and being able to say, "This, this that I hold in my hands, is the pure and whole word of God, unchanging and inspired of the Holy Spirit Himself."

What books written by man would be a part of this powerful school? For systematic theology the mere books of knowledge would not make the cut. It would have to be the systematic theologies that had a historic character and uniqueness to them. a Brakel's Christian's Reasonable Service would be one. Calvin's own Institutes of the Christian Religion. Watson's Body of Practical Divinity. John Dagg's Manual of Theology, to cite a lesser known, unique one.

Also, very contained and ordered works such as Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Boston's Human Nature In its Fourfold State. These two are folk level works with power.

A work on spiritual warfare, a Puritan distinctive, foundational to the Puritan school, would be Gurnall's Christian in Complete Armour.

Spurgeon's Sermons would make the roster. Matthew Henry's Commentary would as well.

For history: Wylie's History of Protestantism and Schaff's History of the Christian Church. (The latter would be a slight refining influence to take too sharp an edge off the Christian, yet not to dull the edge.)

These are 12 works. The academic and reference material intentionally left out. We want literature of power rather than mere literature of knowledge (to use de Quincey's categories).

Now the Muslim convert has the history and example of the Puritans to drawn on and emulate; a strong tradition; a powerful and high school of the Christian faith; actually outside apostolic times the highest, most powerful school.


Blogger c.t. said...

To make it a baker's dozen add the creeds, confessions, and catechisms created and championed by the reformation.

December 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM  

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