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A Historical Overview of Spirituality

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Lesson

It is within the narrative of scripture that we continue to live and move. We are interested in the quality of spirituality that characterized the countless saints who have pursued God down through the centuries. Their legacy is not infallible, but it is instructive and potentially very helpful.

Outline

A Historical Overview of Spirituality
 

A. Living the biblical story: finding our place in scripture's epic tale of creation, sin, redemption and glorification

B. The persecuted church: "Though you have not seen him, you love him," and are filled with inexpressible joy (1 Pet. 4:8)

C. Monks, mystics and mission-focused believers: Christians of the past and their literary legacies

D. Hermits and monks: The call to comtemplative separation from the world

E. Mystics and soldiers: Lovers of God and warriors for Christ

F. Reformers and worldly saints: Spirituality moves back outside the monastery

G. Pietists and Puritans: The priority of godly affections and the discipline of soul-crafting

H. The Wesleys and other holiness folk: The perfectionist impulse and the weight of personal choice

I. Christian spirituality in today's secular age

1. Liturgical Christians meeting God in the Sacraments

2. Conservative evangelicals prioritizing the Word (Bible reading and preaching)

3. Penecostals celebrating the supernatural presence and power of God

4. Liberal cultivating compassion and passion for justice

5. Theme from the third world countries of how God's power is revealed amid suffering

H. Summary: We flew first over the landscape of the biblical story—the epic narrative of creation, fall and redemption, from the Garden of Eden to the Apostle John’s vision of the final victory of Jesus Christ. It is within this biblical tradition that we as Christians continue to live and move. But we are also interested in the quality of spirituality that characterized the countless saints who have followed them through the subsequent centuries. We want to know about their lives, because we are still part of the tradition they established. Their legacy is not infallible, but it is instructive and potentially very helpful. The basic patterns of Christian discipleship stand up pretty well through time.