Proper Passion: A Lesson from Trent

Christian passion—the fervency to pursue the purposes of Christ over our own—is an enviable quality. In fact, looking back over two millennia of church history, we recognize it to be a common trait among those who have been used by God to advance his kingdom: we can hear it in their voices, observe it in their actions, and see it in their eyes. Passion is unmistakable.

It is possible, however, for passion to become a liability. Indeed, unbridled passion may spin out of control and inadvertently frustrate the purpose for which it was intended. When this happens, we allow our temperaments to usurp the gentle leading of God’s Spirit, which in turns spawns sins such as impatience, harshness, and even anger.

To shed light on the dynamics of Christian passion, I tell the story of Sanfelice, a 16th-century Catholic bishop who presided at the Council of Trent. Sanfelice, a zealous advocate of justification by sola fide (faith alone), allowed his passion for the doctrine to overtake his pastoral discretion. Sharing this unusual episode of the council from its historical location in northern Italy, I encourage fellow believers to embed our passion in the ethics of Christian humility and love.

Christian Passion: A Lesson from Trent from Chris Castaldo on Vimeo.

  • Paul Cummings

    Amen Chris, somehow the advocates for meekness and humility are drowned out by the advocates for “rightness above all else” at times.
    thank you.

  • SuzanneT

    Ha..this is great! Especially in light of all the virtual “beard shaking” we’ve seen on the interwebs of late! ;-)

  • scott

    Truth in love for sure( Ephe 4:15,2 Tim 2:25) Yet there comes a time when standing for truth may look a little different.

    Just a few scriptures for thought- Nehemiah 13:8, Numbers 25:1-13″ because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’” John 2:15- Jesus made a whip…..

    I hope this is not in response for those who defend strange fire conference.

  • Matt Sees

    Great account! Sounds to me as if Sanfelice’s passion for personal vindication overtook his passion for sola fide at this point. Sadly, he missed an opportunity to bear powerful witness, in this situation, to justification by faith alone. If he had clung to the very fact that he was trying to defend – that he was fully accepted in God’s sight, by faith, on the grounds of Christ’s righteousness – then he would have found the freedom to respond to his opponent’s attacks with level-headed courage and grace. If God was for him, who could (successfully) be against him?

    Excellent job with this – thanks for sharing!