Brethren of the Common Life
In the previous post, I mentioned a book by George Grant that radically changed how I think, minister, etc. It’s called The Micah Mandate. Once again, I highly recommend it! I would now like to share how God used an audio message (also by George Grant) about an obscure man from the pages of history whom most folks have never heard of. Like Grant's book mentioned in the previous post, his message about Gerard Groote blessed my life and ministry in ways I could not even have imagined as I put the "tape" into the tape-player of my car. Here’s what I wrote about twenty years ago…
Earlier this year God poured his grace upon me as he placed in my hands an audiotaped lecture entitled, “Gerard Groote and the Brethren of the Common Life.” Providentially, this also was by George Grant. I can’t express how moved I was by what I heard in this message. In this lecture Grant basically revealed what a biblical worldview should look like in the “everydayness” of a Christian’s life and ministry. He accomplished this by sharing God’s work and power in and through the life of a man named Gerard Groote. Groote lived in the 14th century, and, as Grant says at the beginning of his address,
“It would be difficult to find a single page of modern history written about him. But it would be even more difficult to find a single page of modern history not affected by him.”
Below are the notes I took from Grant’s message on Groote. I’m sure much of it will not have the same impact I experienced in this format. But I believe the ideas taught and lived out by Groote and expounded by Grant are more than worth passing on and meditating upon.
Notes on Gerard Groote: Brethren of the Common Life
Based on a lecture by George Grant
The Devotio Moderna was to be a comprehensive lifestyle rooted in a biblical worldview. Let’s take a look at the distinctives of this “radical discipleship.”
1.) The Devotio Moderna , first of all, emphasized holiness for every Christian – not just for a few. Groote wanted common piety for common folk – this was the heart of his message.
2.) Secondly, the Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of self-examination, as a way of cultivating humility.
3.) Groote’s Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of covenantal communities, as the real-life context for discipleship.
4.) Groote’s Devotio Moderna emphasized the importance of a Confessional Standard (standards rooted in the biblical antithesis).
5.) Therefore, Groote’s Devotio Moderna placed a high premium on teaching every man, woman, and child, the Bible.
Together, these distinctives: Holiness, Humility, Covenantal Community, Antithesis, and Catechizing – comprised what Groote called “Classical Christianity” or what we might call, “Biblical Orthodoxy.”
“Lay foundations that will endure in the hearts of your children. For there are only two things that are eternal in all of the created order: the children under your care, and the Word of God.”
Grant’s Prayer at the end of the message…
O Father; Almighty Father, I confess to you that I am often diverted by pleasant alternatives. I am often tantalized by that which will bring success, effectiveness, suasion in the here and now. I pray that you would give me eyes to look beyond the horizon of just this moment. Enable me to invest for all eternity. Enable us to have a distinctive vision of discipleship – like that of Gerard Groote before us. Enable us to quest for holiness, humility, covenantal community, antithesis, catechizing – classical Christianity – in the hearts of our children – first and foremost.
Lord God, I pray that we will produce not just successful businessmen, or men and women effective in their vocations. We yearn for REFORMATION. Change the world, O God! And use us in the process.
We pray this in Jesus name. Amen and amen.
Here’s an introduction on Groote that George Grant wrote for Ligonier Ministries.
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