Exploring Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Reader Paperback – 1 Jan 2000
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About the Author
Kenneth J. Collins (Ph.D., Drew University) is professor of historical theology and Wesley studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is a nationally known Wesley scholar who has written four books on the subject.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Of particular interest in this volume are the sections highlighting the various forms of Christian spirituality across denominations and traditions, and the relationship between spirituality, theology, and the Trinity. Collins has included essays on Carmelite, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, and Evangelical spirituality which makes this book one of the most comprehensive and ecumenical resources on spirituality. The essays on the relationship between spirituality and theology challenge the all-too-common assumption by many today that spirituality and theology are diametrically opposed disciplines while also offering suggestions for defining the terms at hand. Finally, the section entitled “Spirituality and the Trinity” demonstrates the close relationship between Trinitarian theology and Christian spirituality, including several models for how the goal of Christian spirituality—fellowship with the Triune God—has been understood historically.
This would be a great textbook for either an undergraduate or graduate course in Christianity spirituality. Placed alongside Therese of Lisieux, Henri Nouwen, John of the Cross, and other giants of Christian spirituality, this book provides an excellent framework for reading and study.
Spirituality, a Discipline:
Dr. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury whose books include Christian Spirituality, The Truce of God, Lost Icons, The wound of Knowledge, and Theresa of Ávila is a good representative of the resurgence of Western Christianity through rediscovering new/traditional models of spirituality. Ken Collins presents a collection that testifies to a return of the prodigal scholastic theology to spiritual life. He concludes in the epilogue: 'Where do we go from here', "We expect that spirituality will continue to prosper as both a practice and a discipline of study."
The chosen articles and essays were selected to cover a wide range of disciplines within the field of spiritual studies: historical, philosophical, spiritual theology, and biblical spirituality. Ecumenical in its approach, stressing contemporary concepts, the selected writings explore the connections between spirituality and Christian traditions, with some cultural applications, including hymns and doctrinal expressions. The various sections on spiritual practices, is concluded with an examination of social activism, with analysis of maturity and feminism.
In seven orchestrated groupings, the contemporary writings on spiritual issues shed light on resurgent Christianity through its models of spirituality. The able editor gives a compelling overall review of the present status quo of spiritual theology and thought. Collins gives a well summarized account of the evolution of spirituality, its human experience, and diverse approaches. He displays the (mainly) Protestant promise of spiritual renewal, viewed within his selection of twenty-three pieces, that help redefining while exploring a Barthian lead Neo-Orthodox spirituality.
Collins brief but informative introduction, I think reveals the unique comparative theological method of the editor. He proposes that Augustine's work, which focused on the divine presence in the soul developed "a psychological analogy to the Trinity in terms of three elements of the soul: remembrance, love, and knowledge. Eastern theologians, for their part, offered a very different model, which Gresham calls 'social spirituality of participation in the Trinitarian fellowship." This part 5, on Trinitarian Spirituality, no doubt, is the gem of this reader.
Filled with a variety of insightful articles, reviews, and adaptation of important texts on the subject, the reader appeals not only to scholars and academics, but also to advanced probers such as councilors, pastors, practitioners, and those fascinated with spirituality and mysticism. The editors goal for this advanced reader is to define, and compare the Protestant, and evangelical contributions with Orthodox and Carmelite examples. The editor is keen to promote the share of the reformed in the field of Christian spirituality while touching on the ancient Orthodox, and medieval Roman Catholic traditions.
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