KB Categories Archives: Spirituality

The Lord’s Supper: Foundations and Practice in Puritan Liturgy

Marc Brown: For Puritans, worshiping around the Lord’s table was of crucial importance to communal and individual piety. Through which lens did the Puritans view this fundamental worship practice; Lord’s Supper, eucharist, or communion? Perhaps a case could be made that Puritan worship employed all three of these views in some form or fashion. However, through […]

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Will You Ask the Blessing? Blessing in Spirit and in Truth

Dr. Connie C. Bull:

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen. –John O’Donohue, Irish poet & priest (1956-2008)

Will you offer the blessing?  We hear this phrase often at mealtime, even perhaps daily. If we pause to consider, though, we realize that blessing is not only connected to meals. Throughout the Bible, blessing is connected to belonging.[1] Our common speech patterns, however, do not imply belonging when we are quick to say “Bless his heart” or “Lord, bless her” when speaking of a personality flaw in someone. Instead, we are covertly lying to hide the disdain we feel under the surface.  Thus, we have twisted the biblical meanings what it is to bless; blessings are to be prayers for deliverance and a “made-new worldview” as we bless in Jesus’ name, our Deliverer.

The Old Testament uses nine different meanings of the term “bless” including greeting/leavetaking in peace, prevailing power over enemies, wisdom, prosperity, benediction, transfer of power, respect, praise, and thanksgiving.  In the New Testament, Christ embodies these, and blesses into belonging both young and old in His ministry. Jesus’ last earthly act was blessing (Luke 24:51)—a ministry for more than church staff, but rather for all Christ’s followers to continue.

[1] Claus Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church, trans. Keith Crim (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 19.

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Luther’s Spirituality

Marc Brown:

Features of Luther’s Spirituality

Theologian Robert Webber describes a dinner party where the subject of spirituality was introduced. Once broached, the topic generated a number of culturally acceptable responses reminiscent of an article that once described “Spirituality in America” as “what we believe, how we pray, where we find God.”[1]  The article, from Newsweek magazine, defined spirituality as the “passion for an immediate, transcendent experience of God.”[2]  The search for spiritual passion in modern Western culture takes many forms. Webber’s dinner guests identified with many of the forms of spirituality mentioned in the Newsweek article, culminating in the host being asked his belief. When Webber surprised everyone by answering he was a committed Christian, “who believes Jesus to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life,’”[3] the guests responded in startled silence. When Webber asked the guests what they would now ‘do with him,’ one guest responded, “Explain yourself. I’m willing to hear you out.”[4] Webber made clear to his guests that in order to explain himself he would have to tell a story. He quickly added, “All spiritualities are based on a story. You have to know the story of a particular religion to understand its spirituality.”[5] Webber was by no means the first to define his spirituality through the story of the gospel as recounted in Scripture. Martin Luther also defined his spirituality in this way. For Luther, sola scriptura would be no empty battle cry. As Luther grew to understand how the gospel story was at the root of his own spirituality, what changed was more than the opinions of a handful of dinner guests.

[1]J. Adler, “Spirituality in America,” Newsweek, September 5, 2005, 9.

[2]Robert E. Webber, The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 14.

[3]Webber, The Divine Embrace, 14.

[4]Webber, The Divine Embrace, 14.

[5]Webber, The Divine Embrace, 14.

Image above: “Luther’s 95 Theses.” Ferdinand Pauwels.

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