Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 158:631 (Jul 2001)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary

Matthew S. DeMoss, Editor

Christian Spirituality: An Introduction. By Alister E. McGrath. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999. xi + 204 pp. Paper, $26.95; cloth, $64.95.

Although introductory and relatively brief, this work is packed with rich content from a wide diversity of Christian sources. Both beginning students and more experienced readers will be led more deeply into the study of spirituality, with the book serving as a guide to one’s own spiritual journey.

In an introductory chapter McGrath deals effectively with the difficult task of defining spirituality. He then discusses “Types of Christian Spirituality” in chapter 2, based on theological, personal, denominational, and cultural perspectives. Chapters 3 and 4, “Theological Foundations for Spirituality: Basic Issues” and “Theological Foundations for Spirituality: Case Studies,” explore the relationship of theology to spirituality. He briefly sets the groundwork for the role of theology in the study and then explores seven theological issues—creation, human nature and destiny, the Trinity, incarnation, redemption, resurrection, and consummation—that have direct bearing on one’s approach to spirituality. McGrath does not deal very much with the role of the Holy Spirit, which could have strengthened the link between the theological and practical aspects of spirituality. Chapter 5, “Biblical Images and Christian Spirituality,” focuses on metaphors including feast, journey, exile, and others. Chapter 6, “Faces, Places, and Spaces: Visualization and Spatialization in Christian Spirituality,” explores the difficult question of how to visualize the invisible God and how visual, sacramental, calendrical, and geographical symbols can be used as aids. In chapter 7, “Engaging the Tradition,” McGrath presents brief excerpts from classic spiritual writings, with introductory comments and study questions designed to engage readers in reflection. The back matter includes a list of helpful Internet sites where primary sources can be studied, as well as a glossary and list of sources for further reading.

This book goes a long way toward being user-friendly without sacrificing depth. When new terms or historical characters are introduced, brief sidebars provide helpful information, so that the reader feels a desire to know even more about the characters and issues so thoroughly introduced.

One of the greatest benefits of this book for evangelicals is McGrath’s help in accessing the rich resources of historic Christianity.

In a day when spir...

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