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Buzz From the Westminster Larger Catechism

07 December 2010 by Frank Turk


en•joy –verb (used with object)
1. to experience with joy; take pleasure in [He enjoys Chinese food]
2. to have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of [He enjoys an excellent income from his trust funds]
3. to find or experience pleasure for (oneself) [She seems to enjoy herself at everything she does]
4. to undergo (an improvement) [Automobile manufacturers have enjoyed a six-percent rise in sales over the past month]

Origin:
1350–1400; ME enjoyen to make joyful < OF enjoier to give joy to.
[from Dictionary.com]

You know? Enjoy! This is a statement of theological instruction from the people who were, first and foremost, Calvinists. Somehow it seemed important to them that when we see that God is Great, and God is Good (and therefore ought to be glorified) He also must be enjoyed.

I think it’s funny that when you point this out to Calvinists today, you get either the stern look of dismissal or the sorry look one gives to the immature or the ill-informed. “Of course it says ‘enjoyed’, but what it means,” it is said, “is ‘appreciated’. You’re satisfied that God is God and you are not, and that God has saved a wretch like me. Don’t over-react to the word ‘enjoyed’ there because it leads to excesses – it will lead you into emotionalism or other kinds of enthusiasms. Now run along before you hurt yourself.”

Well, that’s interesting and edifying, I am sure, but it is flatly wrong. The word’s root is “to make joyful”, and the catechism is not a translation of the Greek or Hebrew: it was written in English for English-speakers.

Moreover, it makes no bones about giving us proof texts which indicate that there is reason to rejoice in God – not merely and meagerly consider that he is enough. I mean: Phil 4:4 is one of their proof texts, and it says to “Rejoice” in the Lord.

So why are Calvinists such a dour lot? Why is it that somehow, with our theology and our catechetical moxie plainly starting with joy as a primary virtue, do we have all appearances of being ready for the grave most of the time, and not willing to love in person but only love discipline but not really love the victory of Christ among his people?

If judgment begins in the House of God, we should begin there with ourselves and consider it: why is seeking to “enjoy” God seen as an unworthy pursuit?

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Comments

David Regier

The piper's calling you to join him. . .

Rachael Starke

Because then we'll be like one of them Charismatical types.

And we certainly can't have that.

Reformed and Renewed

Hey frank you sound like you swallowed John Piper!

capthk

Pietist!

But seriously, my family has been visiting an OPC church for the past year, and it really is amusing (to me--because I'm personally given to laughing at laughable Christians) to see the difference between the "frozen chosen" who grew up Reformed, and could easily be misconstrued as someone who couldn't care less, and the happy-clappy, overjoyed and enthusiastic converted evangelicals who are as thrilled as they can be to have been graced by the Lord with the privilege of worshiping in a Reformed church. You wanna see joy? Watch me tear up every month when my wife takes that fluffy, gluten-free bread in hand as we celebrate (yes, celebrate!) the Lord's Supper.

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