Sunday, December 30, 2007

Exploring Christian Spirituality

Pearlie did an excellent book review on Peter Adam's Hearing God's Words: Exploring Biblical Spirituality. This is one of the many excellent monograph under the New Studies in Biblical Theology series.

Adam had segregated the Christian belief into 3 schools of thought:
(1) The Reformed and Evangelical View
(2) The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some charismatics view
(3) The Quaker and Liberal View (2004, p. 40-41)

Holding to the first view, he tried to develop a biblical spirituality by combining biblical theology and historical theology. Unfortunately, Adam was not able to distinguish the difference between theology and spirituality. In fact, he did not develop a bliblical spirituality, just a rewording of biblical theology in his thesis. All Christian spirituality are based on the word of God and thus has biblical theology as its basis.

Sandra M. Schneiders, an American theologian, defines spirituality in The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2005, p.1) as “conscious involvement in the project of life integration through self-transcendence toward the ultimate value one perceives.”

She clarifies, “First, spirituality is not a doctrine or simply a set of practices but an ongoing experience or life project. Second, its ultimate purpose is life integration. Thus, negative pattern such as alcoholism or consumerism (which can become the organising principle of a person’s life) do not constitute a spirituality. Third, the process of self-transcendence rules out a narcissistic self-absorption even in one’s own perfection. And fourth, the entire project is orientated toward ultimate value, whether this is the Transcendent, the flourishing of humanity, or some other value…When the horizon of ultimate value is the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ and communicated through his Holy Spirit, and the projection of self-transcendence is the living of the paschal mystery within the context of the church community, the spirituality is specifically Christian and involves the person of God, others, all reality according to the understanding of these realities that is characteristics of Christian faith.” (2005, p.1)

Taking this definition, there are many types of Christian spirituality. Some examples convered in the dictionary are:


African-American spirituality
African spirituality
Anabaptist spirituality
Anglo-catholic spirituality
Anglican spirituality
Apophatic spirituality
Apocalytic spirituality
Apostolic spirituality
Augustinian spirituality
Australiasian spirituality
Baptist spirituality
Benedictine spirituality
Beguine spirituality
Black spirituality
Bridgettine spirituality
Byzantine spirituality
Camaldolese spirituality
Carmelite spirituality
Carthusian spirituality
Calvinist spirituality
Celtic spirituality
Charismatic spirituality
Cistercian spirituality
Creation spirituality
Coptic spirituality
Dominican spirituality
Ecological spirituality
Ecumenical spirituality
English spirituality
Eremitical spirituality
Eucharist spirituality
Evangelical spirituality
Feminist spirituality
Franciscan spirituality
Gilbertine spirituality
Global spirituality
Grandmontine spirituality
Greek spirituality
Holistic spirituality
Hispanic spirituality
Ignatian spirituality
Irish Christian spirituality
Latin American spirituality
Liberation spirituality
Lutheran spirituality
Kataphatic spirituality
Macarian spirituality
Masculine spirituality
Mendicant spirituality
Moravian spirituality
Methodist spirituality
Mujerista spirituality
Norbertine spirituality
North American spirituality
Oratorian spirituality
Orthodox spirituality
Pauline spirituality
Pentecostal spirituality
Puritan spirituality
Quaker spirituality
Reformed spirituality
Roman Catholic spirituality
Russian spirituality
Salesian spirituality
Servite spirituality
Scandinavian spirituality
Sulpician spirituality
Scottish spirituality
Swedenborgian spirituality
Syriac spirituality
Unitarian spirituality
Thomist spirituality
Welsh spirituality
Vincentian spirituality
Victorine spirituality

Christian spirituality is a wide subject and is worthwhile to explore further.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm...wonder why don't have

Asian spirituality, with such rich reflection on spirituality in this part of the world. One example i can think of is Father Authur Bede in India who started a catholic asram. The second example, since some time back, I've been toying with the idea of meditation and mindfullness through theravadic chanting, but improvised with christian prayers.

Or perhaps a "daoistic spirituality"? An asian sort of a creation spirituality/gaia spirituality?

Dr. Alex, you have done more studies and probably a veteran in this area, do we deserve a branding? In the good sense of the word i mean, to add to the richness of the tradition and to explore contextualizations of our faith tru another perspective.

Jack

9:44 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Jack, Asia is full of many type of spiritualities; Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism etc. It is a very rich area.

I believe you are refering to Asian Christian spirituality. Unfortunately, not much work has been done about Asian Christian spirituality.

One reason is that most of our Christian spirituality have been imported wholesale from the West. The second reason is that Asian Christians are afraid to explore this area because of the risk of being branded unorthodox or heretical and finally because our understanding of Christian spirituality are still very shallow.

For example, if a group of born again Christians were to practice Buddist meditation, studying buddhist Scripture in addition to the Bible, help the poor and the sick, are Christ-centered and say they are practising a Asian Christian-Buddhist spirituality, what will your respond be?

Another example, if I am to use the symbol of Yin and Yang to explain the concept of Good and Evil, the Christian Trinity, and the Christian worldview. Will you be comfortable with using the symbol. Will be you comfortable with a Christian-Taoism spirituality?

These are some interesting for us scenerio to consider.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

2:32 AM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

didn't realise there were *that* many kinds...

6:25 PM  

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