Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Book Review on Lovelace F, Richard. 1985. Renewal As a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers
by Dr Alex Tang
Lovelace’s thesis of spiritual growth is that it is a continuous renewal with precondition and fulfillment of the primary and secondary elements (appendix 1).
Firstly, Lovelace highlighted that renewal began with an awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Without these basic conditions, there will be no renewal. However Lovelace seems to use the word ‘renewal’ and ‘spiritual growth’ interchangeably. Compared to his earlier work in which he was clear in writing about renewal in spiritual life, in this book he was rather vague in the use of his terms. He seems to imply that spiritual growth is equivalent with renewal. While this is true to a certain extent, spiritual growth is more than renewals. Renewal is reworking the same territory repeatedly while spiritual growth should be progressive towards a definite goal.
Secondary, I agree with Lovelace made is that renewal is both individual and corporate. Too often, books on spiritual growth emphasised on the individual or inner life alone. Spiritual growth has to be done in the context of a community.
Thirdly, Lovelace gave the impression that there is a progression in renewal by his primary and secondary elements. Renewal should happen individually and corporately simultaneously. There should not be a dividing line between individual and corporate elements. And both elements should be Christo-centric, not just the primary elements.
Fourthly, authority in conflict as a primary element is an important step in renewal. This is where an individual decides who is in command of his/her life- self or God. Unfortunately Lovelace concentrated instead on spiritual warfare rather than responsible decision making.
Finally, Lovelace made a good point about the theological integration of revealed truth and cultures. Too often, our spiritual growth models are very western in its approach without being in the context of our pluralistic Asian cultures.
Soli Deo Gloria
Lovelace’s thesis can be summarised as :
I. Precondition of renewal (individual)
a. Awareness God’s holiness ( his justice, his love)
b. Awareness the depth of sin ( in yourself, in the world)
II. Primary Element of Renewal (individual)
b. Sanctification. in Jesus
c. The Holy Spirit within.
d. Authority in conflict.
III. Secondary Elements of Renewal (corporate)
a. Mission (proclamation, social work)
b. Prayer (individual, corporate)
c. Community (micro, macro)
d. Theological integration ( revealed truth, culture)
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