Not a few Evangelicals in recent years have longed for some point of contact with Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, and have tried to blend one of those traditions with our own. Dewey Wallace‘s book, published last year, Shapers of English Calvinism 1660–1714 (Oxford University Press), reminds us that if we will only revisit our own tradition, this un-natural blending will not be necessary. He examines the life and thought of five Church of England Calvinists, including Peter Sterry, the Calvinist mystic. Michael Brydon, reviewing the book for the latest Journal of Theological Studies, observes that ‘Calvinists are supposed to be hostile to mysticism, for fear that it might compromise the evangelical message of the Reformation. In fact, the tradition of Reformed mysticism can be traced back to Calvin, and Sterry continued to give it a distinct identity by setting out a mystical model that was to be lived not by solitary celibates, but within the family and community. He was also able to describe classic Calvinist emphases in mystical ways, as shown by his description of predestination as the ravishing of the soul by God.’
The idea of my soul being ravished has no appeal for me, even (especially?) when described in terms of predestination, but some readers of this blog will be glad to know. The stained-glass window featuring him is in the chapel of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Anyone willing to read up on Sterry and tell us more?