Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Spirituality of Virtues and its Implications for Soul Care -- By: Lydia Kim-Van Daalen
PRJ 3:1 (January 2011) p. 279
Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Spirituality of Virtues
and its Implications for Soul Care
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue….
— 2 Peter 1:2 – 5a
Although this is not the verse1 that served as the basis for Wilhelmus à Brakel’s magnum opus The Christian’s Reasonable Service,2 this may well have been on à Brakel’s mind as he sought to explain to normal Christians the necessity and beauty of serving God with all of their intellect, will, and affections. While on earth, people give expression to their service of God in the cultivation of godly virtues.3 à Brakel, as a caring father, provides guidance to those who desire to grow in holiness and urges others who, for whatever reason, do not
PRJ 3:1 (January 2011) p. 280
have this desire to change. à Brakel (1635-1711), who was born in the Netherlands, is just being discovered by Christians in America, which in the future will hopefully lead to a wonderful contribution to evangelical spirituality. In his own time and in his own country, à Brakel had great spiritual influence, and his influence rightly continues until today. His experiential theology is a treasure because of the excellence with which he not only clarifies doctrines, but also presents them in such a way that they can become a lived reality in the lives of believers.
This article will highlight one of the key components of his spirituality as he discusses it in The Christian’s Reasonable Service, namely, his emphasis on virtues. à Brakel’s exposition of virtues is unique and of great value for Christian soul care.4 In order to demonstrate this, an introduction to à Brakel’s life and his major work, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (hereafter CRS), will be provided, followed by an analysis of his treatment of the virtues. The article will conclude with observations regarding the uniqueness of his spirituality of virtues and make comments and suggestions regarding the implic...
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