Jesus Creed

How do you define spirituality? In Evan Howard’s new book, Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality, The (Brazos Introduction), we get an opening chp that is devoted to this discussion. Here are his central claims:

According to Howard, there are three dimensions to the use of the word “spirituality” today:

1. A lived relationship with God.

2. A formulation of how we relate to God.

3. A field of study.

It is not the same as mysticism; mysticism refers to special experiences of God while spirituality refers to the whole relationship to God. Sanctification refers to a doctrine but spirituality to a relationship. It is more narrowly focused than religious studies and is not the same as spiritual formation since that expression focuses on the means of maturity — and again spirituality refers to the whole relationship.

Howard clearly defines his terms and his focus: he sees spirituality primarily in terms of our relationship with God. This book may be the finest study available on an individual’s relationship with God.

How would I define “spirituality”? I’d go to bigger ideas and, in particular, to what Paul means by a “spiritual person” vs. a “carnal person.” Hence, I’d define spirituality broader: as our relationship to God and the creation of a spiritual/Spirit-ual life wherein we manifest the fruit of the Spirit in both loving God and others and manifest the gifts of the Spirit as God grants them to us for the good of others.

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