Many discussions of Christian spirituality draw on a range of traditions and “disciplines.” Little attention, however, appears to have been given to the Bible itself for its teaching on this theme or as a source of spirituality. Similarly, it is commonly assumed that, when it comes to spirituality, the evangelical tradition has little to offer.
Peter Adam, in response, urges us to renew our confidence in a biblical model of spirituality and to test our spirituality by the Bible. Drawing on a selection of Old and New Testament texts, along with significant insights from the Christian tradition (including John Calvin and the Puritans), he expounds the shape and structure of a gospel-centered “spirituality of the Word” through which we know God Himself and receive the life that He gives.
“So the basic structure of the theology of Deuteronomy is that God has spoken, and given his words to Moses to pass on to the people. The people must hear, believe, obey and preserve these words for future generations.” (Page 53)
“Christian reflection on spirituality must work outward from the centre.” (Page 17)
“Here is a spirituality of the Word, of the covenant promise of God. The people of God believe the words of God, even when that is all they have. Patriarchal and matriarchal spirituality is a spirituality of the Word. That is why the fundamental biblical assessment of Abraham is that he believed what God the Lord had spoken, and it was ‘reckoned’ to him ‘as righteousness’ (Gen. 15:6; and also Rom. 4:5; Gal. 3:6; Jas. 2:23). Being the people of God means living and dying in the sure hope that God’s words are true. God’s plan for a new creation is revealed in his words of promise and of power.” (Page 52)
“To say the same thing another way, one reason for the silence of the Bible in current discussion of spirituality is the assumption that spirituality functions at ‘a deeper level’ than words. This means that the wordy Bible is left behind in favour of dreams, sacred objects and places, visions, ecstatic experiences, miracles and feelings. It is the loss of the belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures that leads to a loss in expectancy in their impact on our spirituality.” (Pages 25–26)
“Spirituality must be thought of in connection with the gospel.” (Page 17)
By appealing both to the Bible and to influential voices in the history of the church (notably John Calvin), Adam manages to combine biblical theology and historical theology in an admirable synthesis. His academic training, years of pastoral ministry, and now principalship of a theological college ensure that this book simultaneously informs the mind, warms the heart, and strengthens the will.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Peter Adam is principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He was formerly vicar of St. Jude’s in nearby Carlton. He is the author of several books, including Hearing God's Words: Exploring Biblical Spiriality, and Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching.