Monday, October 29, 2007

From this Morning's Devotional Reading

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

In commanding us to live, He also commands us to live in a certain way. His decree is not only that we should live somehow but that we should live well, and ultimately that we should be perfect, by living in Him.... Life is not life unless it conforms to this law which is the will of God. To live by this light is all of man, for thus man comes to live in God and by God. To extinguish this light by actions contrary to this law is to defile our nature.... The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reasoning and analysis, but first of all by living. For until we have begun to live our prudence has no material to work on. And until we have begun to fail we have no way of working out our success. (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, pp. 74-76)

Spirituality precedes theology. The life lived is the prior condition for our ongoing reflection on that life.... Our spirituality gives rise to our theology, not the other way around. (Barbare E. Bowe, Biblical Foudations of Spirituality, p. 15)


The Beast said...

Two great Scripture references for devotion.

How does Bowe define spirituality? I'm not sure I would be comfortable saying spirituality precedes theology.

Mike Ruffin said...

I would paraphrase her definition as "life lived in relationship with God." I think she's saying that we have to be living the life before we can reflect on it. The "living" is "spirituality" while the "reflecting" is "theology." Really, though, once you get into it, it seems to me that the two end up going hand in hand.

The Beast said...

Yeah, interesting. We were visited in class last week by a IMB missionary leader who is in charge of church planting and missions in central Asia. One of his concerns was that graduates who have a "theological mind" tend to want to stay put and teach. He was pleading for theology gurus to consider the international mission field. His reasons, I thought, were compelling. New converts in central Asia have no idea what a church looks like or how it is to function. New converts are confused about much of the language in Scripture, especially idiomatic usages, but desperately want to know how to live according to their new found faith.

So, I agree with you that theology and spirituality seem to be more linked than somehow chronological in relationship. Also, it is interesting that both commentaries you listed are from Catholics, which I think helps explains in part this particular position from Bowe, namely, living leading to theology.

Thanks brother, your blog is always a welcome source of mind churning goodness. Many blessings today!