Stephen M. Clinton

April 3, 2009

The Orlando Institute



It is good to remind ourselves that Luther did not wish to separate from the Roman Catholic Church; he wanted to reform the doctrine and practice of the church. Only when it became clear that biblical renewal was not going to happen did he leave the Roman church. Then he appealed to the Russian patriarch for affiliation with the Orthodox Church. In Luther's consideration, there was sufficient ground within both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions that he could have been faithful to God in doctrine and practice. But again he was rejected. Finally, reluctantly, he was part of the formation of a new church.

It is good to remind ourselves of this openness to spiritual life and doctrine in traditions not our own because the fundamental issues separating believers have been blurred today by 492 years of separation and bitter spirited challenges. We see the centuries of separation as if there were an absolute division; not, as Luther wished, the hope of reconciliation and mutual life. At the heart of these controversies is the doctrine of salvation, especially in the manner of application of salvation, and the means of sanctification.  Both of these are part of the work of the Holy Spirit working in people in the world. 

Martin Luther and Pope Leo X are not alive today.  We, the church militant, must answer to God for the accuracy of our faith and the faithfulness of our practice.  We dare not maintain the bitter attitudes of the past which also struggle against the unity of the Spirit working through the various churches.

The divisions between Protestants often involve the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and related practices. In many countries the separation between charismatics and non-charismatics is even more pointed than in the United States. The church in many countries is struggling for survival, yet disagrees strongly on these issues and, most of the time, is not willing to dialog much less to adjust to each other.  In the U.S. we simply ignore each other most of the time.  We have separate denominations, seminaries, theological societies, etc.  But this apathy and benign neglect on the  part of the leadership translates to animosity at the local church and lay levels.  Many lay people suspect that we are further apart doctrinally than is actually the case, while at the same time fellowship and oneness in Christ is being demonstrated in missions and in groups such as Promise Keepers, Campus Crusade, etc.

The problems of spiritual formation (birth and growth) considered in this article grow out of this background issue of unity and difference.  The theological and practical  problems in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit are: the drawing of the Holy Spirit; the human and divine elements in the process of coming to faith; the initial salvific work of the Spirit; the assurance of the believer; the nature of the new creation in the believer; the relation of justification, adoption, and sanctification, the means of sanctification, and the work of the Spirit versus the person in all of these.  Because of the various tensions in the doctrine and practice concerning the presence and work of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, it is important to clarify our common ground and to examine the scripture for the more definitive passages, convictions and persuasions (cf. Scholes and Clinton, 1991), which help set parameters on our understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in spiritual life and growth. Any side, or all sides, may be wrong in their biblical interpretation.

There are some biblical facts that all orthodox groups hold.  For example, God gives spiritual life.  It is the recognition of this presence of God, acting in the life of Cornelius (Acts 10-11) that led the church to "quiet down and glorify God" because He had “granted to the Gentiles the repentance which leads to life." The reality of spiritual life, created by the Holy Spirit, is the true test of unity in Christ, and thus should be the test of fellowship.  Do I see Christ working in you?  Do you see Christ working in me?  As a test or evidence of spiritual life, we have substituted the test of correct doctrine, usually based on the Nicean creed, or as protestants on one of the three great reformation traditions: Lutheran, Calvinist, or Free Church.  For Catholic and Protestant alike this substitution of doctrine for life goes back to the time of the first council, Nicea, in 325, when the identity of a believer was tied to correct doctrine rather than reality of spiritual life, which was the test for the first 300 years. 

Separations of brother from brother within protestant traditions run almost as deep as the Protestant vs. Roman Catholic split. Many preachers attack other preachers, churches, or believers because of differences in doctrines or practices which seem major to them, but in reality are not about salvation issues, that is, about matters of genuine spiritual life in Christ, which is the only basis for separation of worship given in the early church and in scripture.

For purposes of dialogue, it is important to separate major issues on which we cannot compromise from important but secondary issues on which Jesus would have us be tolerant of one another (Romans 15). The failure of evangelical protestants to be able to affirm a simple four page doctrinal statement (Evangelical Affirmations, 1988) is tragic, and symbolic of the inability to discern, as Paul did, the difference between "do not judge your brother" (Romans 14) and the necessity of confronting Peter at Galatia (Galatians 2).

            There is one Spirit, and He is the author of the body of Christ in its formation in history. We can only speculate about what would have happened if reconciliation had taken place at Regensburg, or any of the other attempts at dialogue (eg., with Wesley in 1749).  Would Luther, and others, have been able to re-enter the Roman church and find a continuing home there as they continued to grow in grace and knowledge of the Word?  Would the Reformation have happened or would the church have been renewed, at least sufficiently for believers who look primarily to the Bible for their doctrine and practice to find a common home?  Discerning what is essential and what is important, but non-essential was done in the early church (Jerusalem council), but it was not accomplished at the Reformation. Let’s examine three points of discussion about one of these problems: the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual growth.

I. The Holy Spirit's Role in Dialogue and Reconciliation

We do not live in the sixteenth century. Those attempts at reconciliation failed, and with all the changes since then we cannot simply begin at those points and renew those attempts.  Five hundred years of mutual exiles and murders have left their terrible marks on the church that Jesus founded.

Part of Christian discipleship is to restore erring brothers and sisters in the Spirit of Christ when true spiritual renewal has taken place.  The renewal is first of all spiritual in one's walk with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is this spiritual life which is the test of one's "correctness," that is, one's identity in Christ and in the body of Christ (Richards, 1987).  At a second level we are encouraged by scripture to use a test of biblical doctrine (Deuteronomy 13).

As Protestants, how would we respond if a Roman Catholic today said, as a personal statement:

I trust in Jesus Christ alone and the grace of God alone for my salvation. I look to the Bible as the final authority in doctrine and practice. I can affirm these things and have seen the witness of the Spirit working in my life to confirm to me a calling to remain in the Catholic church and re-evangelize my own tradition.

Could we accept such a person as a believer in Christ and examine the reality of spiritual life: Christlikeness, holiness, love for God and humanity, commitment to the authority of the Bible?  These are very real questions which some of our brothers have begun to address.  Keith Fournier, in Evangelical Catholics (1991), just quoted, presents such a situation.  He affirms the classic evangelical doctrines (authority of the Bible, salvation by grace through faith), testifies to faith in Jesus Christ, and identifies himself as an evangelical, Catholic Christian.

            We Protestants need to re-examine our own stance.  Is it important to recognize a true spiritual life in others?  Or may we discriminate as to the reality of God’s presence on the basis of church doctrine alone?  Do we wish to see others as God sees them and serve one another in love, as we have been called in scripture?  Or shall we ignore what God is doing and build our own walls to keep out people who affirm faith in Christ, whether Catholic or Protestant, because they do not have identical faith and practice to ours?

            People from the third world countries have looked at the present Western situation and made comments much like the following one by Orlando Costas:

For all its missionary passion and experience, mainstream Evangelical theology in North America has yet to learn from its missionary heritage how to ask more central questions to the destiny of humankind, the future of the world, even the central concerns of the Scriptures. (1989, p. 75)

            In modern theological dialogues each participant is encouraged to maintain his or her own position and not to reduce it to an unacceptable common denominator. Such reduction would evidence lack of integrity. But, we should seek to:

1) find out which doctrines we do agree on,

2) discern which doctrines it is not necessary to agree upon (tolerance of diversity must exist at some level, as the church decided at Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15), and

3) clarify the issues which are most important (convictions) and those which are of secondary importance (persuasions) concerning which we do not agree.

Then an agenda could be constructed which might lead to fruitful discussion.

            If spiritual life is the center of our identity as believers, rather than our doctrinal statement or our institutional affiliation, then the role of the Holy Spirit and his work in the church as a whole will need to be reexamined and expanded.

II. The Holy Spirit’s Role as the Creator and Guarantor of Spiritual Life

            The Spirit of God is free to move and act as the Lord wishes (John 3); and often surprises the leaders of the church (Acts 10-11).  Spiritual life is God’s to give, since He is the creator of life, and by the redemption of Christ.  Since these things are true, we need to see if the Bible offers a means or test by which the church can tell where the Spirit is working.

            Orthodoxy of doctrine is one test and is a reliable one. But focusing on doctrine apart from the reality of spiritual life only tells us that the words are correct, not that a change of life has been affected or that the doctrine leads to practice.  Even the test of truth is placed in the context of spiritual life and divine fellowship in I John.  Such a test would need to be carefully applied and would have to be open to the reality of the Spirit leading the church in new directions. In Exodus 33:12ff Moses, having just received the law, asks God how he and the people will be known as different once they enter the promised land.  God responded, “My presence will go with you.”  Moses has not imagined that God might withhold His presence and he responded, “If your presence does not go with us, then do not lead us up from here.”  Moses would rather be in the wilderness with God than in the promised land without Him.  The presence of the llife of God is the  sign of spiritual life In this approach; orthodoxy is measured by spiritual life and by general agreement with biblical teaching in life and practice.  

            We have the genesis of such a test in Acts 11 and 15.  In Acts 10-11 the Holy Spirit’s leading of Peter to preach the gospel to Cornelius is clear, and the resultant presence of the Holy Spirit was sufficient to quiet down the more “hard line” Jewish believers in Jerusalem.  The Spirit leads and teaches Peter, and he leads and teaches the church.  This took place about AD 40.

            Later, approximately AD 49 at the Jerusalem council, after searching the scripture, praying together and listening to each other, James summarizes, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials . . .” (Acts 15:28).  There are essentials we should agree on and honor; in all other things we should have freedom to practice the faith within each of our cultures. Again, the Spirit is present to lead and teach the people, by leading and teaching the elders.

            The Holy Spirit creates spiritual life and shows His presence. He leads the elders in decision-making and this bears character and spiritual fruit in the believers.  The test is spiritual life discerned by the wise counsel of Spirit-led elders.

III. The Holy Spirit’s Role in Growth and Maturity

            All people have an orientation toward relating to God which is worked out in their lives in their value commitments and religious practices (Rahner, 1978).  The fact of this subjective reflective experience and personal and social objective experience is common to all people, although the specific content is different for each person.  The analysis of this spiritual experience usually focuses on the objective religious experience (Grounds, 1984).  I would like to shift to a philosophical and biblical analysis of the spiritual area.

A. The Origin of Spiritual Life

            There are three interrelated aspects to the spiritual area of a person's life: Each person has a spirit (a part of being human is having a spiritual nature or capacity); each person can receive spiritual impressions from other person’s spirit; each person’s spirit can be led or even controlled by another spirit.

            The reality of one's own spirit includes, functionally, the ability to receive and comprehend spiritual reality (recognized intuitively or veridically).  This comprehension has the possibility of being brought to the level of conscious reflection.  But such reflection is not necessary, since spiritual reality is comprehensible through the innate categories of the spirit (there is a ‘fit’ with our spirit) and can be responded to at the level of values.  The biblical phrase is, “God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit.”  Of course, the integration of spiritual values and realities into a person's life will be much quicker and more efficient if there is help with the process via preaching, teaching, and discipleship.

            We also have the ability to make decisions regarding all of life in dynamic harmony between the spiritual, innate, emotional, and reflective areas of our humanity.  However, there must be more to the spiritual area than a functional ability and internal interactive capability.  Ontologically, the spiritual area consists of an immaterial element of a person's being which is the source of his or her ability to make spiritual decisions and to interact with spiritual realities such as God, other people's spirits, etc.  What the Bible calls the heart is the integrative center of each person.  When my spirit is led by the Spirit of God then I function as God intended me to function.

B. The Leading of the Spirit

            A second aspect of the spiritual area includes the possibility of receiving spiritual input from other spirits and people.  This is not the same as being internally responsive or reflective concerning my own spirit, as described above. We are in touch with motivations and values held by other spirits with whom we are interacting.  This area may be called spiritual impressions, or interpersonal spiritual sensitivity.  When functioning in this area, we often say that a person is distinguishing another person's spirit or is responding to another's spirit (Anderson, 1993).  Paul said, “As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the children of God.”  While this includes a rational element, it is not essentially a reflective function. It is more about correct judgment based on spiritual sensitivity.

C. The Control of the Spirit

            The third area of spiritual reality is the capacity to have my personal spirit directed (i.e., strongly influenced initially; only later can there be absolute control) by another spirit.  In common literature this is known as being possessed by another spirit.  It is the reality that another spirit can so influence my spirit that I can be led to obey the other spirit as though it were my own.  In this case, I am not the source of the spiritual direction.  Paul told the Ephesians to walk in the Spirit and not to quench or grieve the Spirit.

            Nor is this merely reacting to an external influence over which I have control.  There is a middle ground where influence is exerted on my spirit to lead me to believe a certain way, which, if I do not resist it, will eventuate in my acting in keeping with the direction of the influencing or indwelling spirit (Romans 12:2).  This is responsive submission to the leading of the spirit.

            If the indwelling (or, prior to a spiritual or reflective commitment on my part to allow the indwelling, then the influencing) spirit is God's, then we have arrived at the biblical case of being led by the Spirit of God, such as in inspiration of scripture, coming to faith in Christ, and being led in some similarly strong way (Willard, 1999).  If the indwelling spirit is an evil spirit, then we have a case of demonic influence or possession.

            Once a situation of full indwelling (surrender of slef-directed voluntary control of my decisions) has occurred, the source of spiritual direction and decision will be the secondary spirit, until this direction is actively resisted.  Thus, the person who is filled with the Spirit is one who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and continues to be influenced by the Spirit at the valuational level, the reflective level, and the emotional level.  Paul’s primary warning to the Ephesians is to not quench or grieve the Spirit.  They are walking in the fullness of the Spirit; they need to be careful to maintain that walk.  In a case of demonic possession, the person is indwelt by and receives direction in value and reflection from an evil spirit.

            In the case of God's Spirit, we are told that while the filling—that is the active influence— can be resisted, the indwelling itself is permanent.  In the case of an evil spirit, the influence can be resisted but once indwelling has taken place the indwelling/possession is not reversible by the person.  It is reversible by the Holy Spirit.  God is able to control our spirit in leading us to faith in Christ or in preventing our belief and hardening our heart (John 12:40). These considerations lead us to the questions of how the human spirit originates, how it is influenced and how it can be indwelt by another spirit.

D. Creation of the Human Spirit

            The origin of the human spirit is described two ways in scripture.  First, the spirit of a person is said to return at death to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Luke 23:46).  In Zechariah 12:1 we are told that God creates the spirit of man within him (cf. Num. 16:22 and 27:16).  But there is also indication in scripture that the spirit is part of the man which is given in a Traducian way, that is, by generation from the parents (cf. Romans 5, and others).  Numbers 16:22 says that the Lord is "the God of the spirits of all flesh."  This universal statement is in keeping with other scripture, although no other passage asserts it this clearly. All persons have spirits.  Some are alive to God, some are not.  God is sovereign over them all.

            Theologically, the human spirit is described as fallen since the historic fall of Adam and Eve. Ontologically, this means that a person's spirit is rebellious toward God and will lead him to choose to reject God or to pervert the knowledge of God, unless the Holy Spirit accompanies the Word with a sovereign drawing of the person’s spirit to obey the truth (but cf. John 12:32; 26:8).  The fallen spirit will result in a perversion of the innate values as well as of the consequent behavior emotionally and volitionally, at least in religious behavior and probably in moral and general behavior as well.

E. The Spirit’s Ministry in the Believer

            Our re-creation in Christ includes a variety of these actions of the Spirit.  I will indicate only a few of these actions.  First, He works in our spirit and our mind to free us from the bounds of sin so that the Word we hear in the Gospel falls upon receptive ears.  As we hear the Word, the Spirit also leads us to respond by believing the Word and trusting in Christ by faith.  These actions of the Spirit enrich both our subjective and objective experiences.

            All these actions are led by the Spirit; He is sovereign.  He works directly and as He wishes through people, circumstances, community and the Word.  If we do come in faith to Jesus Christ, we can gladly say, "God led me to His Son and to an eternal salvation."  We know that no good lies within us and that the active work is the Spirit's based on the choice of the Father and the previous work of the Son.  If we do not come to Christ at this time, we know that the cause is that we resisted or quenched the work of the Spirit; which He was pleased to let us do (Eph. 1 and 4). As faith is present in the heart and regeneration takes place, the Spirit takes up residence (indwelling) and begins the work of sanctification.       With this foundational philosophical discussion and relevant biblical study I would like to draw a synthesis in the form of a chart.


Text Box: Chart I - Categories of the Experience of the Spirit

My Spirit

(Subjective Experience           -            Objective Experience)

  	Direct Spiritual 	    Innate 	Reflective 	Personal 	Social 	
	Experience 	    Experience	Experience	Experience	Experience

  Impressions   Voices   Dreams    Visions   Bible    Miracles   Circumstances    Community   

The Holy Spirit

Using the terms of Chart I, most of the past conceptual work has been done in the area of reflective experience, sometimes in combination with social objective experience.  There has not been much philosophical material focusing on metaphysics of the spiritual area from a Christian perspective (However, see one of my initial attempts: Stephen M. Clinton, “Realistic Theism and the Foundation of Spiritual Life,” Bulletin of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, 1988.) 

            There is material discussing the nature of God and basic spiritual reality.  Some Roman Catholic authors have done this, most notably Collins in The Emergence of Philosophy of Religion (1967; cf. Clinton, 1969), Rahner in the early part of Foundations of Christian Faith (1978) and in Spirit in the World (1968; cf. Sheehan, 1985), and Fiorenza in Foundational Theology (1984).  Of these, only Fiorenza deals with contemporary philosophical discussions or philosophy of religion.  The only Protestants who have dealt with this at length are Carnell in Christian Commitment (1957; cf. Sims, 1979) and MacGregor in Philosophical Issues in Religious Thought (1973); but again, both deal with the metaphysical or philosophical basis of thought, not with spiritual reality. Pannenberg (1985) touches on this but does not develop the philosophical side of spiritual life (cf. Farrelly, 1986).

            Scripture shows us that the Holy Spirit is able to work directly upon our spirits; upon our minds through visions, voices, dreams, etc.; and by leading us in subjective (spiritual, innate, reflective) and objective (personal and social experience) ways.

F. Changes in Daily Life and Ministry through Spiritual Formation

            By the grace of God, as we begin the greatest century for evangelism in world history (Clinton, 2005) we still have time to take theological action which can impact our expression of our walk with God.  Would a church-wide (two billion Christians) emphasis on the Great Commandment, to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us?  If the Spirit leads us to glorify Jesus, then walking in the Spirit would help us focus on Jesus.  There would surely be differences in our lives.  A sample of the direction these theological actions might take follows.

            First, if we love God, the New Testament emphasis on worship, often a minor point in a theology of the Christian Life, takes on new meaning.  Prayer, meditation, public worship, and ceremonial life in general become primary means of expressing the centrality of our faith and our relationship with God.  Private devotions, another means of expressing our love for God with heart, mind, and intensity, becomes a daily focal point of life, not an occasional afterthought.  We commune with the Lord and are refreshed and prepared by Him for service.  Public and private worship are thus both means of personal growth and also steps of obedience.  They serve as a claim on our lives and as testimony to others of our relation to God and our new life in Him.

            Second, if we love God with our minds, then study of the Bible, doctrine, devotional literature, philosophy, science, and sociology all become means of worship as well as new launching pads of faith.  The point of integration of all truth is the experiential knowledge of God (Carnell, 1967) and the expression of faith toward Him.

            Third, if we love God, all life, both ministry and `secular' work, become a means of expressing our love to our fellow man, through providing physical and spiritual means of life to them.  No calling is seen apart from its source in God or apart from its end in love to God and to others.  This is very much like the message of Ecclesiastes:  There is nothing better than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor--it is the gift of God (3:12-13).  All of life becomes holy and a calling before God for which we will be judged.

            Fourth, if we love God each person God brings into our life is a potential disciple, in that I am to love all people and make every effort to bring them all to Christ and to completion in Christ, as the Lord leads us to be involved together.  No aspect of life, no relationship escapes this holy calling: family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow members of local assemblies, brief acquaintances, co-members of community groups, and all others.

            Fifth, loving God will also effect our concepts of the means of growth in the Christian Life.  Positional truth and the Christ life (Romans 6) are sources of spiritual truth which we draw upon in faith to live the Christian Life.  All the methods of Bible study, prayer, witness, and spiritual discipline are for our growth in faith and the enriching of our walk with Jesus.  Fruit bearing and holiness are the results of spiritual growth (Galatians 5; I Peter 4), not of hours of ministry involvement or intensity of spiritual practices apart from the proper heart relationship.

            Sixth, because we love God, the growth of the Kingdom of God, the development of the Church, the edification of the saints, the witness of salt and light to the world, all these are goals of the church and also results of our walk with Jesus Christ.  Surely we will not see these corporate efforts succeed apart from the walk of faith. Bockmuel has said something very much like this as well:

Theology has this task of teaching and maintaining God's creational ordinances and commandments and so helping to fulfill God's cultural commission to sustain human life. Without this ongoing work, nations will sink into Godlessness, anarchy, and self-destruction. At the same time, this means setting up the presupposition for the fulfillment of Christ's Great Commission. The third contribution of theology towards the preservation of culture and human existence lies in the practical presentation of regenerate men and women who have a distinct and regenerating effect on the life of society also. (1986, p. 8)

            Seventh, if we love God the means to walk with God is simply stated: Walk by faith.  Faith, or belief, is mentioned more than 500 times in the New Testament.  Romans, written as an introductory letter to a church Paul had not visited, focuses on faith (chapter 3 and 4) as the means to salvation, and on walking by faith (chapters 6, 8 and 12; synonymous, in practice, with walking in the Spirit) as the means to growth and obedience.


            These actions of the Spirit in salvation roughly parallel His work in inspiration of scripture, as He works in and with the human authors, and also parallel His work in sanctification in maturing the believer to become like Jesus Christ.

            An example of the leading and work of the Spirit is found in the case of Cornelius.  Peter says, "I see that God is not a respecter of persons, but in all nations the one who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to Him." (Acts 10:34-35).  Since Cornelius' spirit was open to seeking God, we know that the Spirit of God had already been at work based on general revelation and on the exposure to Jewish religion.  Peter does show the necessity of such an acceptable person moving deeper by sharing the gospel with Cornelius and those present.  In our evangelical theology we often lack this category in theory and in practice.

            Second, the Spirit re-creates our spirit to bring it into being as God intends; that is, He regenerates us, as discussed above.

            Third, He begins to renew our minds through the ministry of the Word (according to Romans 12:1-2). This begins a re-structuring of our values (the affective domain) and leads to a new way of living based on spirituality - holiness.  Again, these works of the Spirit affect us both subjectively and objectively.  We also have the ability to make decisions regarding all of life in dynamic harmony between the spiritual, innate, and reflective areas (heart, soul, and mind).  However, there must be more to the spiritual area than a functional ability and internal interactive capability.  Spirituality needs to be developed.

            Fourth, when we continue to walk in the Spirit, we are led into the truth and a deeper walk of faith with Christ.  This takes place for most people in the context of the mediation of the church in some local form through assembly with believers.  John describes a cleansing which occurs while we are in fellowship with God (1 John 1:7) and an ongoing growth (1 John 2).

            The key to the early church was that where the presence of the Spirit is clear, God is at work.  The test of spirituality is not the same as the test of orthodoxy.  Orthodoxy is tested by the content of doctrine.  The early church was interested first in the presence of the Spirit to work in the hearts and lives of people in their world, and second in the doctrine.

            The presence of the Holy Spirit means that God is present.  If God accepts these people as heirs of His Son, then the church needs to take its lead from the Spirit and acknowledge the reality of spiritual life.  This does not void the tests of orthodox doctrine or biblically based practice.  But the ground of primary examination is moved to spirituality. In Galatians 1 this was the most important ground for Paul.

            This is not easy.  The test of orthodoxy of doctrine is somewhat public and fixed; we know the contours of orthodox faith, even if we cannot agree on the details.  But placing the test of spirituality on doctrinal grounds makes the ability to rationalize in keeping with the traditions of the church in Europe the test of true faith, and this was never designed or designated by God.  It began at the first church council at the direction of the emperor.  Do we decide who has correct faith, or does the Holy Spirit show us who has life by evidence of living faith and the reality of fruitfulness?

            Apologetics has usually tended to give weight to the reflective and social areas of experience.  Much of this has been developed in the past two hundred years, since Kant's tri-part response to Descartes' and others' quest for certainty.  In our time (since the late 1960s), the move to post-modernism (but not deconstruction) has opened the doors for secular people to examine experience more through the personal and spiritual aspects (cf. Williams, 1997).  While we need not surrender or devalue the gains of the past two hundred years, we now have an opportunity to see how to present the claims of Jesus Christ and the law and promises of God to the world in some new and relevant ways.

            Such development would be in keeping with a renewed emphasis on the ontology of spiritual life and the importance of recognition of the work and leading of the Holy Spirit.  Modern work on these areas of apologetics has long since begun in evangelical circles (Carnell, 1957; Lewis, 1970; Clinton, 1984; Clark, 1989; Scholes, 1991; Willard, 1997) and gives promise of continuing as we seek to give reasons for the hope which lies within us.

            Similar development is taking place in the area of spiritual formation.  New articles and books are added monthly.  But knowledge without practice does not develop spirituality.



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