Spirituality’s Ignored Ingredient

Peter Adam wrote that when it comes to spirituality there is a curious phenomena in Protestant Christianity. In our bookshops we can find much on the subject from Catholic, Celtic and Orthodox sources. But strangely there is often very little that addresses the Bible as a source of spirituality. He notes that for many, a good evangelical grounding in the scriptures is considered a solid first-step in life, but then people must pursue spiritual maturity in a different context – catholic, celtic, orthodox, charismatic or whatever. Surely something isn’t right when people don’t look to the Bible as the resource for spirituality?

God has spoken. We are to have open ears to hear and a heart to obey. We are transformed by trust in His Word. We respond to Him using His Word, we praise Him according to it and we speak it to others. We have life now and hope for forever, all because of His Word. As Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth . . . Your Word is truth.” (Jn.17) The Bible is the preeminent tool in the Holy Spirit’s repertoire for our growth in spirituality.

As John Donne once wrote, “The Scriptures are God’s Voyce; The Church is his Echo.” If we as preachers of the Word are not absolutely clear that the Bible is central and critical for spirituality, then how will our listeners pick up on it? Certainly not from the bookshelves in bookstores, either secular or Christian. Let us preach with a clear perspective that the Scriptures must not be ignored in any quest for spirituality.

Peter Adam’s book is Hearing God’s Word: Exploring Biblical Spirituality. IVP, 2004.

Peter has responded to comments on this post.

6 thoughts on “Spirituality’s Ignored Ingredient

  1. Have you read McGrath’s book (Christian Spirituality)on spirituality? Also have you read Ranald Macaulay and Jerram Barrs, Being Human: The Nature of Spiritual Experience? I like the quote of Donne’s. I think I will expand on that for a bulletin article.

  2. I think the point you make has merit, but it seems to set up a false either/or. I would hope that one can remain strongly biblical and rooted in scripture, but be informed in how one looks at, reflects on and lives out scripture by those who have preceded us, whether they be Catholic, Celtic, or whatever. I guess the dichotomy you set up seems too stark.

  3. Thank you both. Two things.

    1 – I’m not saying there are no books that address the role of the Bible in spirituality. Of course there are and I’m thankful for them. But it seems that the balance is disproportionate.

    2 – I agree with Calvin (Habig) that there is much to be learned from reflection on those that have preceded us – Catholic, Celtic, etc. I did not intend to be either/or, I just wanted to point out how important our role as a preacher is when it comes to our listeners’ understanding of spirituality.

  4. Peter, I wasn’t trying to suggest that you missed some books on the question of biblical spirituality. I really do want to know if you have read these two and what you think of them. I read Macaulay’s and Barr’s book back in the 80s I believe. It was the first I had read that had a less other-worldly view of spirituality. McGrath’s book is like an encyclopedia. He covers an awful lot of ground – biblical, denominational, and historical.

  5. Sorry Bob, I replied in a hurry. No I have not read either of the books you mentioned. Consequently I can’t tell you what I think of them. Thanks for your interaction on here.

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