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Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life [Paperback]

By Simon Chan (Author)
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Item description for Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life by Simon Chan...

Post-Enlightenment theology has tended to divorce spirituality from systematic theology. Now, respected theologian Chan strives to reunite them as he explores the connections between Christian doctrine and Christian living. Covering the topics of sin, salvation, the church, and God, he offers illuminating reflections on the implications of these key concepts for the spiritual life.

Publishers Description
A 1999 Academy of Parish Clergy Top Ten Book Theology is "the doctrine of living unto God," wrote the Puritan theologian William Ames. Unfortunately, post-Enlightenment theology has tended to divorce "doctrine" from "living unto God." And to the degree that this split has been deepened and perpetuated, both theology and spirituality have been impoverished. Spiritual Theology is a rare book. In it, Simon Chan surveys the little-explored landscape where systematic theology and godly praxis meet, highlighting the connections between Christian doctrine and Christian living and drawing out the spiritual implications of particular aspects of systematic theology. Allowing rational formulations to drop into the background, he brings the mystery of the faith to the fore. Chan begins with the principal doctrines of God, sin, salvation and the church. He then progresses to a reflective consideration of the practice of the spiritual life, from prayer to spiritual direction. Unabashedly evangelical and truly ecumenical, Chan grounds his exploration in the sources of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox traditions. His work is well abreast of contemporary theological currents and crossculturally conversant from an Asian perspective. Spiritual Theology is a book for those who care deeply about theology and spirituality, and strive to integrate the two. It is well worth careful reflection and prayerful reading.

Awards and Recognitions
Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life by Simon Chan has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Book of the Year - 1999 Winner - Top 10 category

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   300
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.01" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.88"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1998
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830815422  
ISBN13  9780830815425  

Availability  89 units.
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More About Simon Chan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Simon Chan (PhD, Cambridge) is Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. He is the author of Man and Sin, Pentecostal Theology and the Christian Spiritual Tradition, Spiritual Theology; A Systematic Study of the Christian Life and Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community. He is also the associate editor of the Global Dictionary of Theology and the Dictionary of Mission Theology.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life?

Theology well done  Oct 4, 2005
The first half is a typical theological treatise. The second half is about spiritual disciplines to put theology into practice. The author pulls from all streams of Christianity not just one denomination. Well written.
Well Done  Dec 10, 2003
There is little doubt that from a purely dogmatic standpoint, this is one of the more thorough and exhaustively documented treatments of spiritual theology available today. It is highly intellectual, extensively documented (and I do mean extensively), and a top work of scholarship. As I will discuss below, it is an improveable effort in at least two ways, but from the standpoint of scholarship and depth, this book pretty much blows away most everything that's passing for spiritual theology and spiritual discipline development in Christian bookstores these days.

For those interested in Chan's theological perspective, I would classify him, for lack of better terminology, as being in the left wing of Reformed theology. Chan does seem to be in the Calvinistic camp on the question of man's condition and status before God, and it is this Reformed perspective that tends to lay the groundwork for much of the book. Having said this, the book is quite ecumenical, and it is really amazing the sheer volume of Christians, both past and present, that Chan interacts with in this book. If there's one thing that's beyond debate, in my view, it's that the scholarship exhibited by Chan here is breathtaking and will be much appreciated by those looking for a very in-depth and substantive read.

The book attempts to lay out a systematic approach to spiritual development, and urges readers to develop and adopt a rule of life that integrates individual and corporate spiritual development with an eye towards connecting the global Christian community more closely. Chan spends a good deal of time not only developing many familiar (though some unfamiliar) spiritual disciplines, but also interacting with far more than the Western spiritual experience. In a book like this, Chan's extensive interaction with Eastern and Asian forms of Christian spirituality is very informative and most helpful.

Chan is clearly and rightly concerned about the lack of spiritual development that seems to be dominating much of Protestantism today. In our zeal to adopt individualistic spiritualities that spurn the institutional church and particularly ecclesiastical heirarchy, Chan believes that Protestants have lost a very important aspect of spiritual development - community and global development of a distinctively Christian spirituality. He's right. This book is clearly aimed at getting mainly evangelical Protestants to take another look at the spiritual disciplines not as things to check off on a purely personal 'to do' list, but as the truly life transforming disciplines they are, and to see such spiritual development not purely as individualistic or personal, but as corporate and communally interactive. This mentality is mostly welcome, and it is something evangelicals need to reexamine. The medieval church in particular knew a lot more about spiritual development than many of us today, and Chan very properly has no hang-ups about interacting and incorporating their views and practices into a contemporary rule of life for spiritual development, and neither should we - though this is an area where theological discernment is called for, as Chan himself argues. His remark that 'if Christians today were to learn discernment in large numbers, most television evangelists would go out of business' is spot on, in my view.

I will mention 2 regrets that compel me to the 4 star rating. First, Chan's dogmatic and historical scholarship are impeccable, but his interaction with Scripture is not. The reader will find that Chan seems to quote from just about everything and everybody - with the exception of Scripture. His interaction with Scripture is sparse and surface level. Thus, this book deals much more with how the church has pursued spiritual development then with what Scripture actually says about such things. Big weakness. Secondly, it surprised me that in a book on spiritual development via the spiritual disciplines, little to no mention was made of fasting. This strikes me as a rather glaring omission, particularly since fasting is the one spiritual discipline that has been most abandoned within evangelicalism and is the least understood in terms of its purposes and goals.

With these critiques in mind, I nonetheless recommend the book as a very substantive and needed survey and development of spiritual theology. This is not a book for the beginner, or for someone looking for fluff and a light read. This book 'definitely ain't that'. But it rewards careful study and contemplation.

Solid Study  Nov 3, 2003
This is an excelent, scholarly treatment of Christian Spiritual Theology from an ecumenical protestant perspective. (Although Roman and Orthodox sources are not ignored.) It might not serve as the best introduction to the subject due to its depth but for anyone familiar with the discipline it serves as a solid, weighty corrective to the wispy fluff usually given as "christian spirituality."
Spiritual Theology is a synthetic discipline and this book is firmly rooted in dogmatic theology (Part 1.) It then proceeds to study the Christian disciplines and aids to the Christian life (part 2.) The second section is not a laundry list of disciplines with a how-to explanation, but rather a study of the logic, rationale and relationship of the elements of a life of prayer. Although the book is for any context, many comments are from an Asan perspective.
I would recommend this to any one who if moderately familiar with Spiritual Theology, I especially commend the author's broad ecumenical scope as well as his use of contemporary theologians as well as traditional "giants."
A rare treasure indeed  Apr 28, 2003
Simon Chan's book is a very edifying read. A unique book of a kind that marries theology and spirituality almost seamlessly. He sets a good theological basis for our understanding of God, church, salvation and sin before drawing out an 'ascetical'(spiritual disciplines) program, that is accessible even to novices. His discussion on sin is very well distilled. The radical nature of sin is well expounded, which helps one see the genius of such doctrines as 'justification by faith'. He then helps us see how that can be lived out in a way that is both congruent and effective, thus healing what Lovelace calls 'the sanctification gap'(between being declared holy and becoming holy).

His writing is peppered with various quotations, making it easy for me to know where he is coming from and pointing to sources for further reading. In so doing, he does not go over grounds which other writers have trodden and yet stands on the shoulders of such giants of the Church. He focuses his insightful comments on specific issues that confront the church today,especially in the context of Asian churches that are swept by such forces as individualism and globalization. His analysis of differences between Western and Eastern thinking helps one to do theology with greater discernment and sensitivity to the pecularities of one's culture. Much more can be said about the book but it certainly serves as a wonderful resource for anyone committed to 'living unto God'.

on Spiritual Theology  Jan 20, 2003
Simon Chan presents a systematic overview of the Christian spiritual life. Although this book has promise and potential to be a great work, I don't think that it delivered on all levels. At times, Chan's work is insightful and inspiring as to the current state-of-affairs regarding the Christian church. He gives some great parameters in which to do this sort of work.

Although Chan does set up some strong criteria and parameters for this study (at any time)--historical, evangelical, global--the book fails to keep to the direct task at hand at all times. As another reviewer stated, this book can be a laborious read and Chan's thought pattern can be somewhat difficult to follow at times. This leads to rabbit trails and a reader that is, at times, behind the point the author is currently making.

On a personal note: I wish that Chan would have been more careful in selecting quotations from various Christian writings for two reasons: 1) at times, there are too many quotes -- making it hard to follow. 2) at times, the quotations come from either very mystical Christians (Teresa of Avila) or questionable ones. [Again, this to personal taste]

Overall, this book is a need-to-read for those doing theology. I have been a bit hard on the writing style, but Chan does have strong points regarding Christian theology and the life of faith. (Another reviewer did not like Chan's theological position, but that needs to be beside the point in order to catch the thrust of his message) Chan makes points that our churches need to hear and heed as well as our theologians.


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