Our relentless and erstwhile defender of all things Jonathan Edwards made a remarkable assertion in his interactions with other Old Lifers. He wrote:
If confessionalists are just going to church on Sunday, affirming the confession, taking the sacrament and just waiting for Christ to come again, then they are being lazy. If confessionalists are not seeking His glory in all things, then they are being lazy.
This is a useful observation that points to a basic and abiding difference between pietism and confessionalism. Pietists keep alive that old fundamentalist ideal of full-time Christian service. Unless a believer’s life shows religious affects all the time, then the pietist observer wonders about the authenticity of faith.
Say, for instance, a father of four, keeps the Lord’s Day holy by going to two worship services, relaxing with his family, and leading his children in some catechism memorization. Then during the week he holds down a respectable job that takes at least fifty hours of his time (especially given the commute; on some of his drive he does not listen to Christian radio but tunes in to NPR). He also eats with his wife and children at breakfast and dinner, and leads family worship after both meals (though the morning devotions are abbreviated). Meanwhile, on Wednesday night he enjoys friendship and camaraderie with the members of his bowling team. Thursday nights he pays the bills (thanking the Lord for on-line banking). Saturdays he catches up with home projects and plays a little basketball in the drive way with his three sons. And through it all he tries to talk to his wife about life, the kids, the Republican primaries, and the current season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
I ask you: is this man lazy? Is he cold and indifferent to the “things of the Lord”? And what if he follows Calvin on vocation in such a way that he is reluctant to point to all the ways that he is glorifying God (because he worries about pride and knows that sometimes he actually thinks more about what it takes to make a shot or hold a meeting than he does about whether basketball or business glorify God)?