4 Stars Out Of 5
A strong challenge to modern "spirituality"
May 10, 2014
It is difficult to know just how to characterize the theology of William Law. Indeed, it seems to have evolved throughout his lifetime. A defrocked Episcopalian minister, he later wielded influence on the Wesley brothers and the early formation of Methodism, as well as Samuel Johnson and the Enlightenment movement. In addition he was closely identified with the noted historian, Edward Gibbon. He was strongly opinionated and outspoken in his writing on what later became known as "the deeper life." In his later years he embraced the teachings of Jacob Behman and drifted toward a mystic brand of theology, one that he had earlier criticized. "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life" was written when Law was in his early-40s. Although it alludes to Scripture, its lack of direct references are perhaps a "tip-off" of the more "feeling"-oriented theological posture he would later espouse. Despite these observations, the book presents a strong challenge to the laissez-faire spirituality which characterizes much of the Western church today. When Law was still a student at Cambridge he drew up a set of "rules for my future conduct," many of which likely appear in one form or another in this volume. We could all take a page from that example. "A Serious Call..." is at times overstated and its reiterations are somewhat monotonous. His use of "characters," through whom many of his points are made, is a helpful literary device that hastens the pace in places. This is a difficult book to navigate, but a slow and thoughtful read will produce fruitful results.