Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Church Fathers and 1 Corinthians 7

At the Reformed Forum, the latest discussion is with "Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and Biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, about the importance of studying the early church fathers and reading them as the Protestant Reformers did."

What I found interesting was Haykin's citing Cyril of Jerusalem's exegesis of 1 Corinthians 7:5. The passage says:

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (TNIV)

Cyril saw the passage as a conjugal concession that some Christian couples might wish to make in order to give themselves to prayer. Yet Cyril held that the prayer involved was not the quiet time, Every Day With Jesus sort. It was special prayer assemblies called by the church sort. Sometimes the church, as a body, will come together more often than usual to pray about certain issues, and as a result, married couples won't get the same time for horizontal jogging. I found this interpretation quite jolting. My reflex was to read that passage through Western-individualist eyes. Another blow, struck this time by the Fathers, for a corporate Reformed piety.

1 comment:

David Shedden said...

Of course, Nicky, you need to remember that the Church Fathers were often bonkers when it came to sex.