A Shared Christian Life– A Wesleyan and Biblical Guide to Spiritual Formation

I’m very pleased to announce that next week my small study guide (184 pages) on how to cultivate your spiritual life without becoming Simon Stylites will be available next week courtesy our friends at Abingdon. It is entitled A Shared Christian Life, and it is in some ways the climax of my series of books on a theology of the normal Christian Life.

Many of you will be familiar with the earlier volumes in this series the first being Imminent Domain, an exploration of what the Kingdom of God is, following by books on Worship (We Have Seen his Glory), Work, Rest and Play and Study and Sex (entitled the Rest of Life– due out next month), and Money (entitled Jesus and Money), all viewed from a Kingdom Perspective. The underlying question is, what difference should our eschatological situation, in the light of the Christ event 2,000 years ago, make in the way we view all these matters, including, in the most recent title, the difference it makes to our spiritual maturation.

What I am suggesting in all these books is that we must have a Christian outlook, a Christian theological and ethical outlook, on even the mundane or everyday aspects of our lives. It has been very surprising to me that in fact so little reflection has been done on ordinary life and the routine things we do every week– work, rest, play, eat, study, relate, worship— you get the picture. Or if there has been reflection on these things it has been done atomistically, by which I mean one of these topics is treated by itself and not as it is a part of the larger whole of all we are and all we do. Obviously, there needs to be some balance in life between all these things as the old adage goes ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy….’ It also makes Jack a workaholic who has no balance in his life.

In this latest and last installment of the series I am suggesting that spiritual formation in a Wesleyan way is primarily not 1)a private and individual quest for spiritual improvement, but rather 2) is what largely happens when we are doing things with the body of Christ as a part of the body of Christ, such as taking the Eucharist regularly as a means of grace.

I think you will find this book soul nourishing and encouraging for its message is that you don’t have to become a spiritual athlete to draw close to God, to grow in your Christian life, and so on. You simply need to be intentional about involving yourself in the regular and normal Christian practices that happen week after week such as worship and prayer and Bible study, and the Lord’s Supper. I hope you will enjoy this new book. It is being offered at a remarkably low price, and I hope it will have a broad and long ministry. Let me know what you think.

  • http://gospelthemes.blogspot.com/ Tom Schuessler

    So Ben, does this mean that you would be wary of the form of Ignatian spirituality which is centered on contemplation of the Gospels? Tom Schuessler Mayville, WI

  • Ben Witherington

    Tom here’s the deal. We don’t need any encouragement to be individualistic, privatistic, and narcissistic in our spiritual questing. That’s already part of American ethos. I don’t say such practices are wrong, but Ignatius lived in a very different, and more collectivistic culture. The emphasis, I would say, needs to be placed strongly on corporate spiritual formation in our case, not on such privatistic practices. BW3

  • Nate

    Dr. Witherington,

    I’m a big fan of your work, thanks for all you do! I would love to get a hand full of copies (if that’s necessary for a study group) so that I can lead a bible study with the guys on my dorm floor this next semester at Biola University. For this study, is it best for each student to have a copy or could one just lead by applying the content as he teaches from his own copy?

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi Nate:

    Each will surely need there own copy, and you should all read one chapter for each session. Write a note to Kathy Armistead my editor at Abingdon, and she will see you get the books at discount—- karmistead@umpublishing.org.

    Cordially

    Ben W.

  • Nate

    Thanks so much!


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