21 March 2014

Book Review: Dynamics of Spiritual Life

I saw Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (1979) on a few different reading lists of people I trust. This large book written by a church history professor is wide ranging in scope, but highly readable. Essentially, the author explores the history of revivals and spiritual renewal in the church and especially the "evangelical" church, such as the first and second great awakenings. He spent quite a bit of time discussing Jonathan Edwards, who was a catalyst in the first great awakening in America and a fine writer to boot.

I found this to be a theologically rich book covering a wide variety of topics such sotierology, eschatology, pneumatology, and eschatology but generally grounded in the history of the church.  Although addressing evangelicalism, he ventures more broadly into Roman Catholicism, Lutheran Pietism, and Reformed Puritanism to name a few.

There was much to commend about this book. I think it would be useful for church leaders to read even today to read and understand the dynamics of renewal. As a psychologist and one who is interested in the life of the soul, I found this book particularly sensitive to the role of soul care in the church. Lovelace does not commend a primarily exhortational method nor does he go so far as to wholly give way to modern forms of psychotherapy. In other words, his writings would seem to fit comfortably in the world of Christian Psychology, where I tend to identify myself. 

For the average reader, this book may be overwhelming. It is 455 pages long and he is prone to using technical terminology at times. If you are willing to wade through that, however, I think the extra work will be worth the reward.

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