Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Review: Dynamics of Spiritual Life, An Evangelical Theology of Renewal by Richard Lovelace, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1979

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.
Drawing from a deep background in church history, Lovelace is well qualified to trace the history of spiritual awakenings and test them against the modern world. In “Dynamics of Spiritual Life”, Lovelace first gives the reader an anatomy of spiritual awakening vis-à-vis a historical overview from early Christianity to the Jesus Movement. He then gleans patterns that emerge from Scripture and church history and constructs a helpful schematic of what spiritual awakening should include. He concludes his volume with a look into the future to suggest what issues must be addressed by the church that she might see continuous revival.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.
Lovelace’s strength is his comprehensiveness. He leaves no stone unturned in his tome, and the reader gets a marvelous history lesson along with a theology of renewal. Lovelace’s weakness is that he tries too hard to be relevant. Writing at the apex of the Jesus Movement, Lovelace’s perspectives seem dated to the 21st century ear. He acutely predicts the need for Christian social involvement and cultural engagement, but his focus is on issues relevant in 1979. The reader has to do some creative projecting to make contemporary application. But that is not such a bad thing. And, having said that, Lovelace’s applications are well needed in the church today.

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.
The most helpful part of the book was the way in which Lovelace outlines the elements of renewal. He first discusses the preconditions of renewal (an awareness of the holiness of God and an awareness of the depths of sin). He then outlines the primary elements of renewal that make us a depth presentation of the Gospel (justification, sanctification, the indwelling Spirit, and authority in spiritual conflict). He then suggests secondary elements of renewal that show how the gospel works itself out in the life of the church (mission, prayer, community, disenculturation, and theological integration). Thought this may seem a bit foreboding, when Lovelace lays it out it becomes a helpful grid to evaluate current church emphasis and practice. I’ll be using it as a tool for church evaluation.

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.
P.160, “If all regenerate church members in Western Christendom were to intercede daily simply for the most obvious spiritual concerns visible in their homes, their workplaces, their local churches and denominations, their nations, and the world and the total mission of the body of Christ within it, the transformation which would result would be incalculable.”

1 comment:

Lewis N. Clark said...

Thought this may seem a bit foreboding, when Lovelace lays it out it becomes a helpful grid to evaluate current church emphasis and practice. I’ll be using it as a tool for church evaluation. school technology