Piety and Confessionalism: Friends or Enemies?

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The way some Christians talk, you’d think theological confessions threaten the church by making it impossible to truly experience God without doctrinal restriction. The way other Christians talk, you’d think the pursuit of piety threatens the church by elevating subjective experience over the ordinary means of grace such as preaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Piety and confessionalism, then, must be enemies. Right?

Three teachers from Reformed churches gather in this video to discuss confessionalism and pietism in the Reformational tradition (Continental, English, and Scottish). Kevin DeYoung moderates a high-level discussion that cites the writing of Herman Bavinck, Philipp Jakob Spener, John W. Nevin, and others. Michael Horton explains his concern with pietism, arguing that it creates a church within a church where some Christians pursue the really exciting spiritual experiences. Ligon Duncan responds by drawing on the Scottish confessional tradition, which managed to encourage vibrant experiential Christianity without denigrating the church’s ordinary ministry.

Even if you stand on the sidelines of these debates, you’ll inevitably encounter the problem of nominalism in the church. Evangelicals have too often looked outside the local church for answers. So watch this discussion for guidance on how to help Christians delight in God through the ordinary means of grace.