Starting Over: The Holy Spirit as Subject and Locus of Spiritual Theology

By Hughes, Robert D., III | Anglican Theological Review, Summer 2001 | Go to article overview

Starting Over: The Holy Spirit as Subject and Locus of Spiritual Theology


Hughes, Robert D., III, Anglican Theological Review


The burgeoning interest in "spirituality" is too obvious to be missed. Alongside tendencies towards a New Age1 there is a genuine revival of classical Christian spirituality. This more focused movement can be seen in new seminary courses, training programs at diocesan and local levels, and new scholarship embodied in the formation of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and a number of scholarly journals devoted to the subject. Seemingly endless debates about what "spirituality" means as practice and as an academic discipline have arisen.2 Nevertheless, both studies and pastoral practice have flourished in four areas: (1) resources for introducing people to the disciplines and traditions of the spiritual life;3 (2) courses, programs, and literature on the theory and practice of spiritual direction/spiritual formation;4 (3) recovery of the history and literature of classical Christian spirituality;5 and (4) a hermeneutical or phenomenological approach, highly interdisciplinary, relating Christian spirituality to philosophy of religion, psychology, and non-Christian religious traditions.6

Missing from this blossoming resurgence, until recently, has been spiritual theology, that is, disciplined Christian theological reflection on the source, nature, and shape of the Christian life in the Holy Spirit. Important recent works have explored the territory and offered powerful suggestions for moving forward;7 but as far as I know there has been no attempt in this new situation to provide a systematic spiritual theology of the sort that was ubiquitous in Catholic (including some Anglo-Catholic) circles for the two centuries preceding Vatican II.8 There are a number of reasons for this, including a deep sense that there has been too vast a shift in world-horizon for the older manuals to have much relevance, even while many of us recognize real wisdom in what they contain.9 It seems terribly difficult to get started today on such a project, because the old foundations of the discipline do not provide a place to begin, and the current discussions on "spirituality" do not further the conversation.

There are many tasks relevant to making a new beginning for the discipline. In this essay, I want to suggest a systematic and construetive contribution: one of the difficulties we have in getting started or restarted is that the Western theological tradition has saddled us with a wrong systemic location for the discipline, and current discussions have not really resolved that difficulty. I propose to do three things here to contribute to a new start: (1) to provide a quick review of the reasons for the collapse of the tradition of spiritual theologies; (2) to note briefly the current discussions about approaches to the study of Christian spirituality and the place of theology in that study; and (3) to articulate three propositions for moving forward: (a) the proper subject of a theology of the Christian life is the Holy Spirit and herl mission; (b) more immediately, the object of study of spiritual theology is primarily the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Missio Spiritus, and only secondarily the impact on the human community or individual life; and (c) the proper locus for spiritual theology, therefore, as a theology of the Christian life in the Holy Spirit, is pneumatology. More precisely, I propose that spiritual theology proper is structurally to pneumatology as soteriology is to Christology. These propositions, taken together, at least provide us with a place to restart the discipline.

The Rise and Decline of the Classic Model

The rise and precipitous decline of spiritual theology as a discipline has been well documented in recent years, most especially by Philip Sheldrake and Eugene Megyer, from whose accounts the following summary is largely drawn. 11

It is generally agreed that in early patristic times there was no separation of theology and spirituality, a characteristic that remains true of Eastern Orthodoxy to this day. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Starting Over: The Holy Spirit as Subject and Locus of Spiritual Theology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.