This new book in the Theology in Community series looks at spirituality from the perspective of different books in the Bible and addresses practical questions regarding the workplace, embodied disciplines, and more.
About the Author
Christopher W. Morgan (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of theology and the dean of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. He is the author oreditor ofover twenty books, including several volumes in the Theology in Community series.
Nathan A. Finn (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the dean of the School of Theology and Missions and professor of theological studiesat Union University. Nathan lives in Jackson, Tennessee, with his wife, Leah, and their four children.
Paul R. House (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He has been a pastor or teacher in churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries for over thirty years. He is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version Bible. House is the author of numerous books, including Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision.
Anthony L. Chute (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is professor of church history and associate dean of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. He is the author of several books and has served as a pastor of multiple churches. He and his wife, Connie, have two children.
Gregg R. Allison (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society, a book review editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, an elder at Sojourn Community Church, and a theological strategist for Sojourn Network. Allison has taught at several colleges and seminaries, including Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and is the author of numerous books, including Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine,Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.
Justin L. McLendon (PhD,Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of theology at Grand Canyon University and Grand Canyon Theological Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona, where healso serves asthe department chair for the seminary's master of arts programs. He is a managing editor of theJournal of Biblical and Theological Studies.
BenjaminM. Skaug (MDiv and DMin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; PhD candidate, Gateway Seminary) is senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, California.
Read an Excerpt
A Trajectory of Spirituality
Christopher W. Morgan and Justin L. McLendon
"A prominent feature of our times is the robust revival of spirituality." Bruce Demarest is right, and we do not have to look far for reasons to explain this renewed interest. Whether it is a reaction to society's downward moral and ethical spiral, dissatisfaction with formal religion, the lingering residue of postmodernism, or a host of other factors, we are witnessing a renewed interest in all things spiritual. For some, spirituality means the latest self-help-literature or a generic sense of self-improvement through diet, exercise, meditation, or some sort of spiritual contemplation. Others think of major religious traditions or, more commonly, a Western synthesis of these traditions into innumerable spiritualized alternatives that can be viewed in either religious or nonreligious terms and practices.
But what does the Bible say about spirituality? How should we begin discussing the matter of spirituality with biblical and theological focus? The answer is more difficult to ascertain than we might first suppose. 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. D. A. Carson insightfully links true Christian spirituality to the gospel, urging us to work outward from that center. Our understanding of spirituality must have its roots in the gospel, its moorings in biblical theology, and its focus in theology. These theological roots do not create a cold, lifeless orthodoxy unengaged with the Spirit's active work in our daily lives but actually ground the life-transforming work of the Spirit in the Word while protecting the legitimacy of our spiritual longings and practices. Carson highlights the moral and ethical necessities of living by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) and of understanding how the Spirit enables and empowers us to live purposefully so that we can approach what Carson calls an "all-of-life-approach to spirituality — every aspect of human existence, personal and corporate, brought under the discipline of the Word of God, brought under the consciousness that we live in the presence of God, by his grace and for his glory." J. I. Packer proposes similar bearings:
I want to see a focused vision of spiritual maturity — the expansion of the soul is the best phrase I can use for it. That is, a renewed sense of the momentousness of being alive, the sheer bigness and awesomeness of being a human being alive in God's world with light, with grace, with wisdom, with responsibility, with biblical truth.
Indeed, we seek biblical spirituality, "a renewed sense of the momentousness of being alive in God's world" as God's people led by God's Spirit through God's Word unto godly, Christ-like character — all for God's mission by God's grace and for God's glory.
The Bible portrays this spiritual pilgrimage widely and often, referring to it as walking with God, walking in God's ways, worship, holiness, obedience, discipleship, following Christ, life in the Spirit, maturity, and sanctification. The Bible portrays our spiritual pilgrimage as requiring grace-given faith, love, growth, diligence, repentance, prayer, commitment, intentionality, and discipline. Our spiritual pilgrimage is depicted as personal and as life together in the body of Christ. Our spiritual growth is also gradual, as Paul prays that the love of Philippian believers would "abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9–11).
As the Bible relates these truths, it offers us something of a trajectory of ourspiritual journey. Beginning with man's being created in the image of God and culminating in the ultimate glory of God, the trajectory of our spiritual journey develops
the image of God: created for spirituality
fallen man: the distortion of our spirituality
Christ's saving work: the basis of our spirituality
new life: the beginning of our spirituality
the triune God: the source of our spirituality
Christlikeness: the goal of our spirituality
love: the focus of our spirituality
the church: the community of our spirituality
ordinary life: the context of our spirituality
indwelling sin and temptation: obstacles in our spirituality
the already and the not yet: tensions in our spirituality
Word, prayer, and church: means for our spirituality
reproducing disciples: the mission of our spirituality
the glory of God: the ultimate end of our spirituality
the grace of God: fuel for our journey.
The Image of God: Created for Spirituality
The story of our spirituality can be found only within the biblical storyline, which starts suddenly: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Already in existence prior to matter, space, or time, the eternal, self-existent God creates the universe and all that exists. God "creates, says, sees, separates, names, makes, appoints, blesses, finishes, makes holy, and rests." God creates out of nothing, forms it according to his purposes, and fills it with plants and animals. God is not like other gods of the ancient Near East. Gordon Wenham observes: "God is without peer and competitor. He does not have to establish his power in struggle with other members of a polytheistic pantheon. The sun and moon are his handiwork, not his rivals." The true God is not the sky, sun, moon, water, trees, animals, or anything else created; God creates them, and they are subject to him. The creation is neither God nor a part of God; he is absolute and has independent existence, and creation has derived existence from him and continually depends on him as its sustainer (cf. Acts 17:25–28). The transcendent Creator is a king who accomplishes his will by his word and names the elements of his creation (Gen. 1:5).
The Creator is also personal. On each day of creation God is personally involved in every detail, crafting them in a way that pleases him and benefits his creatures. On the sixth day, he personally creates man in his own image, breathing life into him. The personal God has made humans to be personal as well, with the ability to relate to him, live in community with one another, and have dominion over creation. As Carson reminds, "We are accorded with an astonishing dignity" and have "implanted within us a profound capacity for knowing God intimately." By creating us in his image, God distinguishes us from the rest of creation and establishes that he is distinct from us — we are not gods but creatures made in his image.
God's goodness is reflected in the goodness of his creation and reinforced in the steady refrain, "And God saw that it was good" (1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25; see also 1:4), even "very good" (1:31). Material creation reflects God's goodness, which is evident also in his generous provisions of light, land, vegetation, animals, and "creeping" things. These are blessings given for humanity's benefit, as are the ability to relate to God, fertility to procreate, and authority to use the abundant provisions for man's own good. By the seventh day, God has finished his creative work, rests, and blesses and sanctifies the day as holy, as a Sabbath to be kept. In doing so, God displays his joy and satisfaction in his creation, his celebration of completion, and he commemorates this special event.
Genesis 2:4–25 focuses on God's formation of man and woman and his provision of the garden of Eden as a place for them in which to live and work. As Allen Ross summarizes, "God has prepared human beings, male and female, with the spiritual capacity and communal assistance to serve him and to keep his commands so that they might live and enjoy the bounty of his creation." Man is formed from the dust of the ground but is more than dust — his life comes directly from the very breath of God (2:7). In planting the garden and moving man there, the Creator and covenant Lord provides a wonderful and sacred space for humans to enjoy a harmonious relationship with him, each other, the animals, and the land. The garden highlights God's presence with man. God establishes the terms for living in his presence and graciously puts forward only one prohibition: man shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Contrary to what might be expected, man is allowed to eat of the tree of life (which confers immortality) but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which gives access to wisdom), "for that leads to ... an independence of the creator incompatible with the trustful relationship between man and his maker which the story presupposes." Because God's generosity to man is so abundant, his prohibition would not seem difficult to accept.
God lovingly notices that "it is not good that the man should be alone" (2:18) and generously meets man's need by creating woman as a complementary and intimate companion united with him for life together. Genesis 2 ends positively and, given the beliefs of ancient Israel, surprisingly: "The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (2:25). In the garden, nakedness is not reason for shame but points to the man and woman's innocence and the unspoiled delight they have in each other.
The good God creates a good world for the good of his creatures. Humans too are created good and blessed beyond measure, being made in God's image, with an unhindered relationship with God, and with freedom. In the beginning, God creates humans in his image and designs them for spirituality — to enjoy a loving and personal relationship with the covenant Lord, as well as holistic relationships with themselves, one another, and creation.
Fallen Man: The Distortion of Our Spirituality
Against this pristine backdrop, Genesis 3 recounts a tempter who calls into question God's truthfulness, sovereignty, and goodness. The tempter is "crafty" and deflects the woman's attention away from the covenantal relationship God has established. Sadly, in 3:6 she saw, she took, she ate, and she gave, which culminates in "he ate." Wenham observes that the midpoint of 3:6–8, "and he ate," employs the key verb of the narrative, "eat," and is placed between the woman's inflated expectations for eating (good to eat, delight to the eyes, and giving insight) and its actual effects: eyes opened, knowing they were nude, and hiding in the trees. The contrast is striking: the forbidden fruit did not deliver what the tempter promised but brought new dark realities warned of by the good and truthful covenant Lord.
This initial act of human rebellion brings divine justice: "They sinned by eating, and so would suffer to eat; she led her husband to sin, and so would be mastered by him; they brought pain into the world by their disobedience, and so would have painful toil in their respective lives." Collins adds:
There are small ironic wordplays. ... For example, in Genesis 3:5 the serpent promises that the humans' eyes will be opened and they will know something, while in verse 7 it is fulfilled: their eyes were opened and they knew something — but it was just that they were naked! ... Similarly, there is a play between the use of the root r-b-h in 3:16 ("I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing") and its use in the commission of 1:28 ("Be fruitful and multiply"). Whereas procreation had previously been the sphere of blessing, now it is to be the area of pain and danger.
The consequences of their sin are suitable and shattering. The couple feels shame, realizing they are naked (3:7). They sense their estrangement from God, even foolishly trying to hide from him (3:8–10). They are fearful of God and how he might respond (3:9–10). Their alienation from each other also emerges, as the woman blames the serpent, while the man blames the woman and, by insinuation, even God (3:10–13). Pain and sorrow also arise. The woman experiences pain in childbirth, the man toils in trying to grow food in a land with pests and weeds, and both discover conflict in their relationship (3:15–19). Even worse, the couple is banished from Eden and God's glorious presence (3:22–24).
How they wish they had listened to God's warning that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would "surely die" (2:17)! And die they do. They die spiritually, and their bodies also begin to experience gradual decay that will lead ultimately to their physical death, as God's judgment states: "To dust you shall return" (3:19).
Most devastating of all is that these consequences befall not only Adam and Eve but extend to their descendants as well. Robert Pyne describes the dismal scene:
Standing together east of Eden [Adam and Eve] each felt alone — betrayed by the other, alienated from God, and confused about how it had all come apart so quickly. ...
The children were all born outside of Eden. ... None of them ever saw the tree of life or had a chance to taste or reject the forbidden fruit. At the same time, none of them enjoyed marriage relationships without some degree of rivalry or resentment, and they inevitably ate bread produced by the sweat of their brow. Born in a fallen world, they knew only the curse, never Eden. Still they knew that this was not the way life was supposed to be....
Adam and Even sinned alone, but they were not the only ones locked out of the Garden. Cut off from the tree of life, they and their descendants were all destined to die.
So, in the beginning, God created a good cosmos with good humans who enjoyed good relationships with him, themselves, one another, and creation itself. But then sin entered the picture and brought disruption and alienation in each human relationship — with God, oneself, one another, and creation. Yet humans are still in the image of God, blessed by God, and commanded to be fruitful and multiply as recipients of God's presence, promise, and grace.
Nevertheless, in Adam sin entered the picture and has brought disruption and alienation in each of our human relationships — with God, self, one another, and creation. Adam sinned not merely as the first bad example but as the representative of all humanity. In its contrast of Adam's and Christ's representation of us, Romans 5:12–21 stresses that in Adam there was sin, death, and condemnation. In Adam was the old era, the dominion of sin and death. Note the outcomes of Adam's representative trespass:18
"many died" because of his sin (v. 15);
his sin "brought condemnation" to all (v. 16);
"death reigned" over all human beings (v. 17);
all people were condemned because of his one trespass (v. 18); and
by virtue of his sin "many were made sinners" (v. 19).
Note also four particular effects resulting from Adam's sin and representation:
many/all were made sinners (v. 19);
many/all died (v. 15);
condemnation is upon all (v. 16, 18); and
death reigned over all humans (v. 17).
Thus, in Adam all are sinners; all die; all are under the domain of death; all are condemned. Because of the fall, our spirituality is distorted and our relationship with God is now characterized by hostility, guilt, and condemnation.
Christ's Saving Work: The Basis of Our Spirituality
Thankfully, sin is no match for God's grace, showcased especially in Christ's saving work.
"Christianity is a rescue religion," says John Stott, and the totality of Christ's work, from eternity past to our future hope, supports every aspect of our spirituality. Christ's saving work refers to "all that Christ did when he came to this earth 'for us and our salvation,' all that he continues to do now that he is risen from the dead and at God's right hand, and all that he will do when he returns in glory at the end of the age."
In the fullness of time, God the Son entered human history to "redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:5). Our advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, knew no sin, yet he became sin so that "in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor.5:21; cf. 1 Pet. 2:22). He offered himself as our propitiation, defeating our sin through his substitutionary death and triumphing over death through his victorious resurrection. We are sons and daughters of the risen and exalted King, and "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" Our collective cry is in praise to God for Christ's victory over sin and death; we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, heirs of God (Gal. 4:5–7). As Paul claims, "ChristJesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Rom. 8:34). Paul's "more than that" acknowledges Jesus' work on both sides of the empty tomb. His sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, exaltation, and more ground our spirituality, including such blessings as justification, forgiveness, righteousness, peace with God, and "access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom. 5:2).(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Biblical Spirituality"
Copyright © 2019 Christopher W. Morgan.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations 11
Series Preface 13
1 A Trajectory of Spirituality Christopher W. Morgan Justin L. McLendon 19
2 Shaped into the Creator's Image: Spirituality and Spiritual Formation in the Old Testament Paul R. House 55
3 New Creation: Spirituality according to Jesus Charles L. Quarles 79
4 Tensions in Spirituality: Spirituality according to Paul Benjamin M. Skaug Christopher W. Morgan 107
5 Integrated Spirituality: Spirituality according to James Christopher W. Morgan 137
6 Holiness in the Biblical Story George H. Guthrie 155
7 A Heritage of Evangelical Spirituality Anthony L. Chute 177
8 Spiritualities in the Christian Tradition Nathan A. Finn 215
9 Spiritual and Embodied Disciplines Gregg R. Allison 239
10 Spirituality and Our Work Gregory C. Cochran 267
Selected Bibliography 281
Name Index 285
Subject Index 288
Scripture Index 296
What People are Saying About This
“As people created in the image of God and called to be like him in holiness, it is imperative for us to align how we live with what God has revealed and his purposes for us. Therefore, the gospel and the biblical witness should be the starting point for any understanding of spiritual formation. This volume does a superb job of grounding spirituality in the full range of biblical teaching. It lays an indispensable foundation.”
Clinton E. Arnold, Dean and Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
“For some, spirituality is driven by technique; for others, it is the pursuit of direct and unmediated connection with the divine; for still others, it is a label that covers experiences of the ill-defined numinous. Indeed, today’s ‘take’ on spirituality perfectly reflects the personal autonomy found in Judges: everyone does that which is right in his or her own eyes. To think clearly about spirituality as it emerges from serious Bible study, however, is to enter a world where one really does grow in knowledge of the living God, but by the means God has ordained, by the power of the Spirit, with transformed conduct the inevitable result. Christopher Morgan and his colleagues have enriched our grasp of biblical spirituality by their biblical, theological, and historical probings.”
D. A. Carson,Emeritus Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
“Spirituality is a contemporary buzzword. Surprisingly, even some atheists speak of their spirituality. There is even a book with the title A Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. How important, then, is this book which presents a biblically based, theologically deep, historically informed, and practically helpful Christian examination of spirituality. A galaxy of fine scholars take the reader through the Old and New Testaments, great themes such as holiness, and the heritage of evangelical spirituality, and explore the practical implications of biblical spirituality. A rich feast!”
Graham A. Cole, Dean, Vice President of Education, and Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; author, He Who Gives Life and The God Who Became Human
“Humans are deeply spiritual beings. It’s why we seek out a greater sense of purpose and the meaning of our existence. All around us today, people are pursuing spirituality. Chris Morgan has compiled a timely and essential guidebook to true biblical spirituality that can only be found with Christ at the center. This is not an easy journey, but it is essential if we are to live a life that brings glory to God.”
Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board, The Southern Baptist Convention
“There are many books on spirituality, but this one stands out because it takes in the entire range of the biblical canon. Written with scholarly depth and a practical bent, this volume is a great addition to the growing literature in the field. I highly recommend it!”
Timothy George, Research Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
“As Francis Schaeffer taught us, the Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way. In every generation, therefore, we face no more urgent question than the meaning of true spirituality. The excellent team of scholars writing in Biblical Spirituality combines academic gifts with personal wisdom to show us, from the whole of the Bible, how God has put his glory on the whole of life. Is there a more wonderful reality for us to consider together?”
Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“This is a biblical theology of biblical spirituality. And it’s the best I’ve read. As a bonus you get a survey of various forms of spirituality in the Christian tradition, especially within evangelicalism. If you want to see how biblical theology works and what biblical spirituality is, read this book.”
Donald S. Whitney, Associate Dean and Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible
“As one who has spent my life helping people with the practical side of spiritual growth, I am deeply grateful for a strong and clear guide to the theology of growth! Your own growth and the growth of those you lead will be strengthened by the truths in Biblical Spirituality.”
Tom Holladay, Teaching Pastor, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California; author, Putting It Together Again and The Relationship Principles of Jesus