I have read the forward and introduction to Four Views on Christian Spirituality. The book is part of the Counterpoints Series, which typically uses several contributors to explore diverse approaches to religious topics.
The introduction is by Bruce Demarest, an evangelical, who edited this volume. He surveys the spiritual environment in America today and notes how much longing and questing there is for spirituality. He says we have a “Walmart of spiritual options.” These draw on all kinds of sources including the great religious traditions of the Far East, Native American practices, ancient Paganism, and modern psychology and the human potential movement. Many Americans say that they are spiritual but not religious.
On the Christian scene there is evidence of a new hunger for spirituality within the churches. Church life became, for many. a stream of activity with little room for quiet, prayer, and nourishment of the spirit. But he sees a revival of spirituality across the traditions the book will discuss. In all the churches there have been movements seeking more balance between activism and the pursuit of holiness and communion with God.
Demarest briefly introduces the four views that contributors will talk about in the book. These are Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Progressive Protestantism, and Evangelicalism.
These four traditions all have much to contribute as the churches try to respond to the need for a deeper spirituality. Simon Chan, an Assemblies of God professor from Singapore, expresses in his brief forward what he hopes a survey of these contributions will accomplish:
“But beyond helping us appreciate the similarities and differences, the strengths and weaknesses, the exchanges between the interlocutors also highlight at least three other important implications. First, they show that our common Trinitarian confession has spiritual ramifications too large to be adequately captured by any one spiritual tradition. If that is the case, then, second, the mutual critique and appreciation should lead to self-correction and transformation from within. Third, the awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses should serve to motivate all toward a more holistic and ecumenical spirituality.” (Four Views on Christian Spirituality (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) (Kindle Locations 71-75). Zondervan Kindle Edition.)