Dr. Pan Yi Jung‘s article argues for the need of bridging the gap between theory and practice, and doing so within the Chinese context. Her discussion includes a proposal for an integrative approach. Here is the article’s opening paragraph:
Teaching students to engage a classical text of spirituality and equipping them to interpret it theologically has been one of my major commitments in theological education. I perceive the demanding need to explore a hermeneutical methodology as one engages with spiritual text, church’s praxis and strategic action within one’s own cultural-political context. This essay thus focuses on one question: What kind of methodology should one adopt in order to bridge the ever widening gap between the reasoning of spiritual theory and text on the one hand and the analysis of practice and experience on the other, and to connect truly and integrate firmly the two within the Chinese context in the study of Christian spirituality in theological education?
Citation: Pan Yi Jung, Annie. “Transforming Christian Spirituality: Hermeneutical Method and Methodology.” Mysterion12, no. 2 (December 2019): 363–373.
Scholars of writings by past masters in Christian spirituality often find teachings of great relevance for contemporary readers. Such is the case in this article where the author, Annie Pan Yi Jung, explores the importance of Teresa’s writing for feminine spirituality. Here is the article’s opening paragraph:
Female spirituality is a new research area in Chinese seminaries as well as in most Chinese churches. Recently, discussions on female Christian spiritual formation have become the focus in different occasions and international conferences. One of the research methods of feminine spirituality is to draw insight from spiritual classics and to make them meaningful in contemporary context. Although St. Teresa of Avila lived and wrote almost five centuries ago,1 her spirituality, as exemplified by her holy life and inspiring writings, remain meaningful, relevant, and influential to many Christians today. In this paper on Teresa’s feminine spirituality, a couple of key questions that have continually occupied my mind are: What are the distinctive feminine perspectives in this female mystic’s writings? What does Teresa’s feminine spirituality mean to contemporary Christians, especially its relevance to their self-transformation?
Citation Pan Yi Jung, Annie. “The Feminine Spirituality of St. Teresa Of Avila: Ascending to God by Descending in Humility.” Asia Pacific Mission Studies 2, no. 1 (2020): 78-100.
In this article, Celia Kourie argues that using the historical-critical method to interpret the Bible has proven to be too limiting. A more spiritual, mystical reading of scripture can add a depth of understanding unavailable to a strictly rational approach. Here is the beginning of the article’s abstract:
This paper takes as its starting point the increasing interest in spirituality and Scripture. This is clearly part of the relatively recent, unprecedented research in the field of spirituality studies. We are moving away from the distrust of a spiritual or mystical reading of Scripture in scientific and analytical circles, and the academy is freeing itself from the fetters of determinism. This is largely due to a major heterodox methodological explosion within the field of biblical hermeneutics within the last few decades. Without denying the value of historical-critical approaches, their hegemony has been challenged and the limitations of the positivistic framework within which the method operates have been brought to the fore. This is not to deny its validity. In spite of its shortcomings, it has been and continues to be of vital importance in determining the provenance of the text. Contemporary biblical studies bear witness to a major shift from a mechanistic to a holistic paradigm, enabling the text to come to life as transformative and life-changing: as a dynamic medium rather than a static object. In order to further elucidate this fact, the current article offers a reading of Scripture through a “mystical lens”, with particular reference to Origen’s (ca. 185–253) contribution and also that of a relatively unknown modern mystic, Elizabeth Catez (1880–1906).
The full summary in English and the complete article in Afrikaans are available.
Citation: Kourie, Celia. “Die transformerende effek van ’n mistieke lees van die Skrif.” LitNet AkademiesJaargang 16, no. 3 (October 30, 2019).
Towards the end of decades-long fighting between Colombian government troops and various armed factions, demobilized paramilitary soldiers entered into a process to reintegrate them into towns, many of which had been scenes of the violence. This article by Diana Villegas, Chair of the SSCS International Relations Committee, provides a detailed report on how inhabitants of one town were able to draw on their inner resources and spiritual practices to be able to accept the former fighters into their midst. Here is the article’s abstract:
Remarkable stories of resilience and forgiveness have been reported in the wake of the internationally recognised peace process in Colombia. From the perspective of Christian spirituality, this study seeks to understand the individual and communal values, beliefs and practices that made the reconciliation and restoration of a community possible after severe dislocation and violence, some of it of neighbour against neighbour. Interviews conducted in the field (in San Carlos, Antioquia, Colombia) and transcribed by the author were used as texts. Transcripts were studied taking into account cultural, geographic and historical contexts. I found that a deeply rooted family- and community-based Catholic culture, brought by the Spanish in the 16th century and continuing to influence this rural area, offered values, beliefs and devotional practices that gave meaning, strength and empowered the ability to forgive. Also, psychological and pastoral tools for grieving, together with sociological and political values about reconciliation and the rebuilding of a community’s fabric, intertwined with the religious values to deepen the capacity for reconciliation and community rebuilding. The experiences of these interviewees reveal a form of Christian spirituality lived through family and community ties that was augmented and empowered by values and practices of non-religious institutions, making possible significant personal and communal journeys of transformation and the concomitant remarkable resilience.
Citation: Villegas, Diana L. “Spirituality and Beliefs of Colombian Internal Conflict Survivors.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies, 75, 4 (November 2019). Open access article available here.
Does identifying the genre of a spiritual work simply place it in a literary category where it can be compared to other works in the same genre? Or does knowing the genre help the reader come to a deeper understanding of the work than she would have if genre were ignored? David Perrin explores this latter possibility in this essay appearing in an essay collection honoring Bernard McGinn’s contributions to the study of mysticism. Here is the essay’s abstract:
Sensitivity to the literary genre of the Spiritual Canticle of John of the Cross is important, since genre research indicates that the determination of genre is an attempt not only to look back and classify the text in the phase of its production and current state, but also to recognize genre as a form for the production of new meaning which, by its very nature, looks to the future. Genre thus points the reader in a particular direction concerning the meaning of a text and is itself a judgment about its meaning. How one approaches genre – whether as a classification tool (which leaves the text at a distance from the current reader) or as a form for the production of meaning (engagement of the current reader in mining fresh insights for living today) – will determine how the contemporary reader/interpreter approaches the Spiritual Canticle in a current reading. The key question explored in this article is thus the following: is the literary genre of the Spiritual Canticle merely a function of John of the Cross’s style, the content of the work, its structure, meter, the various themes within it, and so on? Or does genre contribute more substantively to a current understanding of this text? Following the literary theory and philosophical hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur, this book chapter studies the literary genre of the Spiritual Canticle in the latter framework.
In this article, David Perrin focuses on “the self” as a term with profound meaning for Christians. If, according to Christian theology and spirituality, a believer is made made in the image of God, how does one’s self reflect the imago dei? Perrin proposes to answer this question from the perspective of everyday life. Here is the article’s abstract:
The word “self” comes up frequently in everyday language. We talk about “self-respect,” “myself,” “self-determination,” “self-help,” “yourself,” “him/herself,” and so on. All of these expressions refer to the subject of investigation of anthropology: the human person and what it means to be human. Thus, in everyday language when we refer to “self” or “person” or “human being,” often we are referring to the same reality. What is the nature of the self that we so often mention in everyday language? From the perspective of Christian spirituality how does the self reflect the “imago Dei” — the image in which human beings were created? This article takes a critical look from multiple perspectives at the concept of “the self” and seeks to understand its deeper meaning in everyday language use and in Christian anthropology with respect to the imago Dei. The article concludes with a description of the Christian imago Dei from three fundamental profiles. These profiles are understood as specific dimensions of the self that take on particular importance in our everyday living: 1. The Transcendent Self; 2. The Narrative Self: The Self as a Story Told; and 3. The Body Self. Together, these three profiles help us understand how the imago Dei is lived out in the ordinary experiences of daily life and assist us in constructing a specifically Christian anthropology.
Citation: Perrin, David B. “The Nature of the Self: Christian Anthropology Revisited,” in Vinayasādhana: Dharmaram Journal of Psycho-Spiritual Formation, 10, no. 2 (July 2019), 23-41.
In this article, the author Glen Scorgie describes how 19th century Swiss evangelical missionaries to Canada introduced a contemplative form of shared scripture reading which led to mystical experience and conversion. Here is the article’s abstract:
This article examines the understanding and use of Scripture in the evangelistic endeavors of “awakened” pietistic francophone Swiss Protestant missionaries in 19th-century French Canada (after 1867, Quebec). It begins by sketching the roots of this transatlantic initiative in Le Réveil, the Continental francophone expression of the Second Evangelical Awakening. It then shows how within this movement historic Protestant Bible-centeredness converged with an intensified pietistic expectation that receptive contemplation of Scripture (especially in conversational settings) could evoke profoundly experiential and transforming encounters with the divine. The records of the Swiss missionaries also display a mystic-like apprehension of Scripture’s luminosity, and of conversion as a comprehensively illuminating and radiant experience. This account challenges the assumption that mystical tendencies necessarily lead to privatized spirituality, while illustrating how a distinct form of evangelical spirituality stimulated missionary endeavor and shaped missionary practice.