“At some point in the past twenty years,” Edith Humphrey writes in her book Ecstasy and Intimacy, “North Americans crossed a Rubicon.” Which? “When I was an undergraduate, the emphasis in class was completely upon ‘objectivity,’ ‘neutral observation,’ proving one’s point.’ Now the spotlight is upon ‘my story,’ ‘my response,’ and ‘celebrating diversity'” (1).
I suspect Edith Humphrey’s book will remind readers of this blog of Robert Webber, though the book is much less of a history of thought and more of a book grounded in Humphrey’s specialty … NT studies. But, I must say this: Any NT scholar who tackles a theological topic has my congratulations. NT scholarship, especially among evangelicals, is mired in whether or not the New Perspective is consistent with the Reformation but it does so with much less of a robust theological perspective and much of a polemical edge. Humphrey’s book is a positive, embracing, robust encounter with the message of the Holy Spirit.
First, some terms: Ecstasy refers to the Father, Son, and Spirit going out of oneself to the other — self-denial in other words; intimacy refers to the ongoing, relational communion of the Father and Son and Spirit. And our spirituality, our life in the Spirit, is about dwelling in that ecstasy — the Trinity’s going out to the other and our going out of ourselves to God and to others — and dwelling in that intimacy.
What do you think of these statements?
“Christians cannot, after all, call something ‘spiritual’ just because it gives us a sense of awe, or because it brings us into community with others, or into touch with ourselves — though it is quite likely that those things, persons, and experience that have such an effect upon us have a connection to God’s Spirit to which they or we may be oblivious!” (5)
“Today many confuse ‘spirituality’ with ‘experience’ … It may not always be easy to discern the difference between the worship of experience and the worship of that One from whom all experience flows” (5-6).
In observing that far too few have either an Incarnational or Trinitarian understanding of spirituality, let alone a robust focus on God’s Spirit, she says:
“Perhaps the problem is that we have, as a Christian family, frequently relegated our understanding of the spirit and the Holy Spirit to a locked cabinet of ‘Correct Doctrine'” (7). That is, we confess Spirit but do we dwell in Spirit?