Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Responding to the challenge that the Age of Reason posed for Christian faith and practice, William Law crafted a tight, rational argument for “a devout and holy life.” Devotion, as he defined it, should involve all of life—living according to God’s will and not for one’s own selfish desires. If religion covers all of life, then it follows that Christians must observe rules that govern all their actions and not merely times of worship. Scripture does not contain a single instruction regarding worship, but almost every verse gives something on the ordinary actions of life. If we do not practice humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection, therefore, we do not live as Christians.
Sad to say, many who call themselves Christians do not incorporate these traits into daily living. What is the difference, he asks, between Leo, who shows little regard for religion per se but lives a respectable life, and Eusebius, who has a huge appetite for religious things and cannot stop talking about religion but does not differ from Leo as regards his everyday life?
Why do we Christians fail to live devout lives? Law asks. We can plead neither ignorance nor inability, for we have the same knowledge and the same Spirit early Christians did. What prevents us, rather, is a lack of intention. Failure of intention puts us in real spiritual danger. Although we have ample assurance of God’s mercy when we sin...
(The entire section is 1814 words.)
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