The number of people saying that they are spiritual but not religious is increasing. Meditation and yoga are growing in popularity. Recently, Democratic Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s tweets went viral with their Oprah inspired spiritualism. People are desperately searching for something spiritually meaningful in their lives. I greatly appreciate Biblical Spirituality, edited by Christopher W. Morgan, and published by Crossway. It offers a clear, biblically based and practically helpful study of spirituality.
Trajectory of Spirituality
Biblical Spirituality starts with a chapter on the “Trajectory of Spirituality.” It states:
Talk of spirituality can be vague and loose, detached from Scripture while appearing biblical, and so clarity is crucial as we consider formation and our spiritual journeys.
This book is rich in theology and scripture tying our spirituality to the gospel. It avoids the pitfalls of wishy-washy postmodern spirituality with clear exegesis of scripture and historical scholarship. If footnotes are your thing, this book will delight you.
Biblical Spirituality dives into spiritual formation in the Old Testament. It then moves to spirituality in the New Testament. Chapters are dedicated to examining spirituality as presented by Jesus (who the book says is the supreme authority on spirituality), James, and Paul. There is a chapter examining the heritage of evangelical spirituality, looking at Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and J.C. Ryle. It rounds out with chapters on the history of spiritual disciplines in the Christian tradition, the spiritual and embodied disciplines, and spirituality in the workplace.
The first half of the book or so builds a solid foundation for a theology of spirituality. The later chapters focus on the history of Christian spiritual practices and practical application. Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is one of my favorites, so I really enjoyed reading how spiritual disciplines have developed. Whitney’s book is one they recommend.
I also thought the chapter on embodied disciplines was unique. It is the most practical chapter. It makes the argument that there is a divide in contemporary evangelicalism. Christians tend to focus on spiritual disciplines, promoting spiritual life and spiritual solutions. Yet, they tend to neglect their bodies. As an example, the chapter states of Christians, “Protestants are the most overweight, with Southern Baptists claiming the top spot on the obesity scale.” The chapter gives practical embodied disciplines for health, stress, rest, sex, and nutrition. Some of the practical tips seem obvious, but simply look around. You’ll find they’re not being practiced.
If you have questions about spirituality and spiritual disciplines, Biblical Spirituality will give you a solid foundation and clear answers. It also points to many resources for practical applications. You can get a copy here.