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English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition

ISBN: 9781620320532

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Martin Thorton’s classic text on spirituality appeals to all Christians, aiding believers in the formation of a biblically sound, historically rooted, and experientially rich spiritual life.

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Key Features

  • Discusses ascetical theology and its development
  • Examines the English school and ascetical theology through history
  • Includes a reading list, and an extensive bibliography and index


  • Part One: Preliminary Surveys
    • The Pastoral Situation Today
    • The Meaning and Purpose of Ascetical Theology
    • Spirituality and the New Testament
    • The English School: Its Development and Character
  • Part Two: The English School: Patristic and Medieval Development
    • Catholic Ascetic: St. Augustine
    • St. Benedict
    • The Cistercian Reform: St. Bernard
    • William of St. Thierry
    • The School of St. Victor
    • The Franciscans
    • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Part Three: The English School
    • The Celtic Church and Whitby
    • St. Anselm
    • Prelude to the Fourteenth Century
    • Walter Hilton
    • Julian of Norwich
    • Richard Rolle and Margery Kempe
    • The Caroline Divines
    • The Book of Common Prayer
    • The Post-Caroline Disentegration
    • Spiritual Guidance Today
  • Appendix: A Course of Study in Ascetical Theology

Top Highlights

“2. Central to St Augustine’s theology is the relation between knowledge and love” (Page 63)

“All we are concerned with here is that the New Testament gives the threefold pattern which is at the heart of all Catholic practice: Eucharist-Office-personal devotion. And that the Church never doubted its importance: ‘And they continued stead-fastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in the prayers.’1 The Opus Dei was Christian long before it was Benedictine.” (Page 36)

“Again they demand the real thing and it will be a monstrous tragedy if the Church does not supply it. The Church concerning itself primarily with cultural and social activities must fail, for it is but substituting one kind of materialism for another.” (Pages 6–7)

“Ascetical-theology is concerned with Christian progress, which does not necessarily mean climbing the spiritual hierarchy from ‘lower’ to ‘higher’ forms of prayer, but rather with praying better in whatever way or state we happen to be. It is axiomatic to spiritual theology that progress is tested not by experience or feeling but by moral theology. Whatever our prayer, in whatever elementary stage it remains, we are making progress if we commit fewer sins.” (Pages 21–22)

“P. Harton makes the impressive claim that not only a general doctrine of grace but the later practical distinctions—habitual, actual, sanctifying, sacramental, prevenient, concomitant, sufficient, efficacious—are all traceable to a biblical source. With grace as the first Christian need, the thirteen texts1 given by Harton in support of his theory would make a good start to any study of biblical ascetic.” (Page 37)

Praise for the Print Edition

I know of no other book that rivals Thornton’s work as a clear and well written compilation of so much valuable material.

Review Of Books & Religion

Will provide both Protestant and Catholic readers with an exceptionally readable and thorough treatment of a shared tradition.

Spiritual Live

  • Title: English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition
  • Author: Martin Thornton
  • Publisher: Wipf and Stock
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Pages: 352
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Church of England › Doctrines; Asceticism; Spirituality › England--History of doctrines; Spiritual direction; Pastoral theology › Anglican Communion; Anglican Communion › Doctrines; Pastoral theology › Church of England
  • ISBNs: 9781620320532, 1620320533
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T20:26:38Z

Martin Thornton (11 November 1915–1986) was an Anglican priest and spiritual director, author and lecturer on ascetical theology. His “theology of the remnant” has been influential in Anglican circles. He was active for much of his life in the Diocese of Truro, England.


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    Digital list price: $29.99
    Save $6.00 (20%)