Within many churches, and the lives of individual Christians, there seems to be a dearth of spiritual experience. Some people might say this is simply part and parcel of the reformed faith – “If it is spiritual experience you want – you should be worshipping with the Pentecostals”.
However, I don’t buy into that. Christianity from day one has been experiential. Christianity throughout history, at its healthiest points, has been experiential. Even the Reformation was a consequence of Luther’s personal understanding and experience of the teaching of Justification by faith Alone. Luther declared, “Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.”
I’ve recently been reading a book that confirms some of these thoughts. Ian Hamilton’s What Is Experiential Calvinism? Is a helpful little book which helps correct the caricature that Calvinistic Christianity is nothing more than “dead, dry and dusty doctrine.”
Hamilton’s book is worth reading because it highlights the deficiency in many expressions of contemporary Calvinism, but it also attempts to draw the reader to higher ground:
Few of us would deny that what passes for Calvinism is often drastically removed from the passionately Trinitarian-centered, Christ-magnifying, Spirit-quickened, gospel-adoring, grace-humbling, obedience-loving religion of Calvin and his historical and theological heirs, the Puritans.