Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kostenberger on Progressive Spirituality

From Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue by A. Kostenberger:

Along with this definitive, positional spirituality, the New Testament also enjoins all followers of Christ to pursue progressive spirituality. John, as mentioned, exhorts believers to abide in Christ
(John 15:4-7). Paul commands believers to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18); to walk, or keep in step with, the Spirit(Gal. 5:16, 25); and not to grieve (Eph. 4:30) or quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). This implies that it is possible for believers, who are spiritual because they belong to Christ and are indwelt by the Spirit, not to walk in the Spirit and thus to grieve the Spirit and to quench the Spirit's activity in their lives. What can we learn about the pursuit of progressive spirituality from these passages of Scripture?

As mentioned, John equates spiritual growth with obedience to God's command to believe in Jesus and to love others (John 15:10-17; 1 John 3:23-24) and closely connects spiritual growth with the bearing of spiritual fruit (John 15:5), that is, effective participation in Jesus' mission to the world. Spirituality is therefore not an individualistic experience of solitude, defined by the amount of time spent in protracted periods of communion alone with God, but an active obedience to God's commands that practically demonstrates love to others and is integrally involved in Jesus' mission to the world. Christian spirituality, properly understood, is a spirituality of engagement, not withdrawl ... (73).

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