For the Scots, the primacy of Christ’s objective work at the cross took precedence over the subjective aspect of salvation. In other words, good works had a place, but were not central for assurance of salvation. The Scots were forced to look back to Christ, and not to themselves, for assurance of salvation. Thomas F. Torrance says:

the Scots Confession devoted several articles to ‘ good works’, that is to disciplined Christian living and service, but nevertheless the emphasis fell upon the fact that it is Jesus Christ himself who is the true center and indeed the very substance of daily Christian life. That Christ-centered objectivity spelled the end of concern for self-righteousness and reliance on work-righteousness; yet far from dampening the need for disciplined godly living and daily goodness, by turning Christian people away from pietistic inwardness, it actively kindled and encouraged good works, as we can see particularly in the emphatic concern for the poor and needy throughout the realm. This legacy of the Scottish Reformation,’ the veritie is not in us’, left a permanent mark on the tradition of Scottish theology and spirituality. (Thomas F. Torrance, “Scottish Theology,” 24-25)

For the Scots, via John Knox, good works evidently, took on proper perspective as Christ was made the center of focus and salvation. There is an immediate sense of Christ’s presence and access to his throne room in this theological perspective — this reminds me of John Calvin, but not the Westminsters.

The corrective for American evangelicalism, to take away from this, is to take note of the aversion to Pietism. In other words we need to avoid our narcissistic, inward focused, privatized Christianity … and look upward to Christ. I think this would have a great impact on American Christianity, it would actually return it to Biblical Christianity — Christ centered Christianity that is.

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