Roger Williams and the life of faith (part 5)

I continue my look at Roger Williams and what he suggested were the ten “trials” that a Christian faces in making spiritual progress in this world:

Ninth, true followers of Christ are restless in regards to their own sins. When they do yield to sin—as Williams seems to expect even true followers to do on occasion—they will confess and seek mercy, following the model of King David.[1] He uses the analogy of a fish out of water to explain the feeling of a true child of God who discovers, or suspects, sin in their life. It is a troubling, overwhelming situation, that is immediately addressed. Hypocrites may also feel uncomfortable with their sin, but this discomfort is one of feeling the weight of a judge or ruler, wishing for pardon from their crimes.

A child of God, a true follower of Christ, however, feels the loss of relationship in committing sin, a distance that is created by grieving a Father and incurring his displeasure. While Williams does not detail his soteriology or understanding of atonement, this does seem to indicate a somewhat different emphasis than what the penal substitution model highlights. Williams seems to see the image of judge forgiving a criminal as misguided, indicating more of an artificial spirituality than genuine devotion.

Finally, the tenth trial involves an increasing awareness of the grace of Christ Jesus that is seen in others, so it can be seen in our own selves. There is seen a “beauty and excellency” which the true follower wants for themselves, they see discipleship as a resonance of this beauty and excellence, an active pursuit of the light that others who do follow Christ radiate in their lives.[2]

Seeing such beauty and finding it in one’s own life is an achievement of grace. Seeing it is not enough, Williams asserts. One may be aware of it, but if the seeing is not accompanied by a journey towards its realization, then the vision of such beauty is naught.



[1] Roger Williams, 7:67ff.

[2] Roger Williams, 7:68.

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