Monthly Archives: May 2010

Calvin the Pastor-Theologian

Shepherd of Souls

“Jean Daniel Benoit, the expert on Calvin’s work in the cure of souls, states boldly that the Geneva Reformer was more pastor than theologian, that, to be exact, he was a theologian in order to be a better pastor.  In his whole reforming work he was a shepherd of souls.”*

*John T. McNeill, A History of the Cure of Souls (New York: Harper and Row, 1951), 198, as quoted in Timothy Witmer, The Shepherd Leader (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, 2010), 55.

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Filed under John Calvin, Shepherding, Tribbett

Puritan Praise from the Potty

The Puritans, though being incredible men and women of God, were known for their desire to reform all of life even to the point of excess.  This humorous anecdote from Cotton Mather will suffice as an example:

I was once emptying the cistern of nature, and making water at the wall.  At the same time, there came a dog, who did so too, before me… [Shocked that his actions were debasing him ‘into the condition of the beast’] I resolved that it should be my ordinary practice, whenever I stop to answer the one or the other necessity of nature to make it an opportunity of shaping in my mind some holy, noble, divine thought.[1]

The man clearly had a sense of potty humor (though he probably didn’t realize it), despite his rather superfluous puritan tastes.  His words cause me to chuckle even though I greatly admire the desire to glorify God whether you eat, drink, poop, or potty.  Though, it does seem a little excessive to be so serious about those moments in life despite the excellent opportunity that they present for praise and meditation.  It gave me a lot to think about in how I might better redeem my time for much holier things in seemingly unholy moments.


[1] Thanks to Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame, 152 for referencing this enjoyable tidbit from Mather’s life.

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Filed under Cotton Mather, Humor, Puritan, Tribbett

Harlots at Heart

Michael Reeves’ summation of Martin Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian:


Loved from Harlotry to Royalty: “At the heart of [The Freedom of a Christian] is a story of a king who marries a prostitute, Luther’s allegory for the marriage of King Jesus and the wicked sinner. When they marry, the prostitute becomes, by status, a queen. It is not that she made her behavior queenly and so won the right to the king’s hand. She was and is a wicked harlot through and through. However, when the king made his marriage vow, her status changed.  Thus she is, simultaneously, a prostitute at heart and a queen by status. In just the same way, Luther saw that the sinner, on accepting Christ’s promise in the gospel, is simultaneously a sinner at heart and righteous by status. What has happened is the ‘joyful exchange’ in which all that she has (her sin) she gives to him, and all that he has (his righteousness, blessedness, life and glory) he gives to her. Thus she can confidently display ‘her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his”.’ This was Luther’s understanding of ‘justification by faith alone’, and it is in that security, he argued, that the harlot actually then starts to become queenly at heart.”[1]


[1] Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009), 50.

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Filed under Justification, Martin Luther, Spiritual Adultery, Tribbett