John Piper and Robert Webber (The Divine Embrace) have one big, central idea in common: Christian spirituality is not about the self but about God. Whereas Piper focuses on a Calvinist vision of God, Webber focuses on a liturgical vision of God. For both, genuine spirituality gets lost in God — for Webber one gets lost in the Story of God and God’s Embrace.
The big question that emerges from this fine book of Webber’s is this: Where is our spirituality focused? Is it on the self, on our progress, on our sanctification? Or is it focused on God and the Story of God?
Chp 10, which closes this series and we will mention what comes next at the bottom of this post, focuses on something that Webber made himself well known for: worship and life together. Spirituality is not something located in the self but in God’s union with us in Christ — and we are to dwell in it.
The Church nourishes the spiritual life when it is located in God’s embrace. Webber holds back where on what he could say about many forms of church life today but he critiques gently the commodity form of the church.
The church needs to be shaped by the divine embrace: it witnesses to God’s Story. The church is a:
Genuine spirituality will have the church at its center. We do not need to “reinvent” the church; this lets culture reshape the church.
Worship nourishes the spiritual life when it is located in God’s embrace. Worship has been wrenched from God’s Story to My Story.
Worship proclaims and enacts God’s story.
Scripture nourishes the spiritual life.
Worship as the prayer of the church nourishes the spiritual life.
Eucharist nourishes the spiritual life.
Here one can find a full, orthodox, Storied vision of Christian spirituality. There is no book like this book.
We will shortly begin two more studies. The first will be on why there are other religions and we’ll look at Gerald McDermott’s excellent study God’s Rivals. The second series will examine NT ethics from the angle of inclusivism by Anglican scholar and priest, Richard Burridge, called Imitating Jesus. One need not own the book to follow along, but these are two books worthy of your consideration — McDermott looks at a question that few examine carefully (Why does God allow various religions?) and the second at how imitating Christ reshapes ethics.