Christian Spirituality Studies Blog

Article: Die transformerende effek van ’n mistieke lees van die Skrif / The Transformative Effect of a Mystical Reading of Scripture, by Celia Kourie

In this article, Celia Kourie argues that using the historical-critical method to interpret the Bible has proven to be too limiting. A more spiritual, mystical reading of scripture can add a depth of understanding unavailable to a strictly rational approach. Here is the beginning of the article’s abstract:

This paper takes as its starting point the increasing interest in spirituality and Scripture. This is clearly part of the relatively recent, unprecedented research in the field of spirituality studies. We are moving away from the distrust of a spiritual or mystical reading of Scripture...

Article: Spirituality and Beliefs of Colombian Internal Conflict Survivors, by Diana L. Villegas

Mural expressing hope for the resurgence  of San Carlos, Colombia, from political violence
Mural expressing hope for the resurgence 
of San Carlos, Colombia, from political violence. 
Photo: Diana Villegas

Towards the end of decades-long fighting between Colombian government troops and various armed factions, demobilized paramilitary soldiers entered into a process to reintegrate them into towns, many of which had been scenes of the violence. This article by Diana Villegas, Chair of the SSCS International Relations Committee, provides a detailed report on how inhabitants of one town were able to draw on their inner resources and spiritual practices to be able to accept the former fighters into their midst. Here is the article’s abstract:

Remarkable stories of resilience and forgiveness...

Essay: The Literary Genre of the Spiritual Canticle of John of the Cross, by David B. Perrin

Does identifying the genre of a spiritual work simply place it in a literary category where it can be compared to other works in the same genre? Or does knowing the genre help the reader come to a deeper understanding of the work than she would have if genre were ignored? David Perrin explores this latter possibility in this essay appearing in an essay collection honoring Bernard McGinn’s contributions to the study of mysticism. Here is the essay’s abstract:

Sensitivity to the literary genre of the Spiritual Canticle of John of the Cross is important, since genre research indicates that...

Article: The Nature of the Self: Christian Anthropology Revisited, by David B. Perrin

In this article, David Perrin focuses on “the self” as a term with profound meaning for Christians. If, according to Christian theology and spirituality, a believer is made made in the image of God, how does one’s self reflect the imago dei? Perrin proposes to answer this question from the perspective of everyday life. Here is the article’s abstract:

The word “self” comes up frequently in everyday language. We talk about “self-respect,” “myself,” “self-determination,” “self-help,” “yourself,” “him/herself,” and so on. All of these expressions refer to the subject of investigation of...

Article: Bible Study as Luminous Converting Encounter: Swiss Pietist Initiatives in 19th-Century French Canada, by Glen G. Scorgie

In this article, the author Glen Scorgie describes how 19th century Swiss evangelical missionaries to Canada introduced a contemplative form of shared scripture reading which led to mystical experience and conversion. Here is the article’s abstract:

This article examines the understanding and use of Scripture in the evangelistic endeavors of “awakened” pietistic francophone Swiss Protestant missionaries in 19th-century French Canada (after 1867, Quebec). It begins by sketching the roots of this transatlantic initiative in Le Réveil, the Continental francophone expression of the Second...

Book: The 20-Minute Retreat: 18 Sessions with the Saints to Nourish Your Faith Life, by David B. Perrin

The book is a spiritual resource drawing on the lived wisdom of holy figures such as Teresa of Kolkata, Francis de Sales, Raymund Nonnatus, and Hildegard of Bingen. According to Gerald O’Collins, SJ, ““Perrin’s . . . accessible language, the questions he raises, his appeal to lived experiences, the choice of saints to accompany prayer, and his very practical advice converge to produce an admirable guide.” Here is a summary of the book:

David B. Perrin, Ph.D., former President of the SSCS, has just published a new book: The 20-Minute Retreat: 18 Sessions with the Saints to Nourish Your...

Book: Signposts to Silence. Metaphysical Mysticism: Theoretical Map and Historical Pilgrimages, by J.S. Krüger

Retired Professor in Religious Studies at the University of South Africa and now Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria, J.S. Krüger writes that his book does not depend on any single academic discipline nor is it based in a particular religious tradition. According to the author,

This investigation listens to the wise and enlightened of the past and the present in all cultures, religions and mystical traditions; the visionaries and explorers of the inner world. The days of monocultural, monoreligious isolation are numbered – our time is...

Essay: A Distinctively Christian Contemplation: A Comparison with Other Religions, by Glen G. Scorgie

This essay by Glen G. Scorgie appears in Embracing Contemplation: Reclaiming a Christian Spiritual Practice which according to the publisher “offers a distinctly evangelical consideration of the benefits of contemplation.”

In their introduction to the volume, the book’s editors write that Scorgie

. . . addresses Christian contemplation in relation to other religions’ contemplative traditions. Scorgie rightly notes that it is important to enter into comparison with the other religious practices, not for the purpose of adjusting our own practices (as if Christianity lacked the internal...

Essay: ’To Gaze on the Beauty of the Lord’: The Evangelical Resistance and Retrieval of Contemplation, by Tom Schwanda

This essay by Tom Schwanda appears in Embracing Contemplation: Reclaiming a Christian Spiritual Practice which according to the publisher “offers a distinctly evangelical consideration of the benefits of contemplation.”

In their introduction to the volume, the book’s editors write that Schwanda’s essay

. . . introduces the reader to criticisms of contemplation and spiritual formation that have arisen in popular-level online discourse. Unraveling these criticisms, and showing how they are not based on actual views held by evangelicals, Schwanda continues by giving four features of what...

Essay: Paul Baynes and Richard Sibbes, by Tom Schwanda

This essay appears in Protestants and Mysticism in Reformation Europe, a multi-author collection of essays described as “an expansive view of the Protestant reception of mysticism, from the the beginnings of the Reformation through mid-seventeenth century.” Tom Schwanda begins his essay by saying that he will be using the language of “contemplative-mystical piety” which he defines as “the grateful and loving beholding of God through God’s mighty acts and Scripture, in which one experiences union and deepening communion with Jesus Christ through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.” The...

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