What is Spiritual Theology?

Spiritual Theology is not another branch of theology. It’s not wholly different from Christology, the precious doctrines on Christ, or Trinitarian studies, or even Eschatology. Spiritual Theology isn’t the snooty cousin, a holier-than-thou practice of theology, looking down on systematic textbooks and Hebrew grammars. That is fleshy theology. No one can look down while focusing on the things above, where Christ is sitting.

Spiritual Theology reminds us of the telos—the end, the point—of theological work is the heart, the soul, the life. Loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and loving our neighbors. Spirituality wants to crucify any cul-de-sacs of theological learning. The risen Christ reminds us that there are no dead ends.

Theology is meant to go from the classroom to the living room, from a stack of books to serving others. Christian theology is all-terrain. Spiritual Theology is the friend that wants to connect our hearing to our doing. Theological information is for the purpose of doxological transformation in the Christian.

“Spiritual theology is simply theology lived.” 
— Eugene Peterson

Spiritual Theology pays attention to the interior reality of the Christian, asking:

  • So what?

  • What now?

  • What am I to do?

  • Who am I becoming?

  • How am I to follow Jesus?

There is a glorious symbiotic relationship in Spiritual + Theology.

Spiritual reminds us that theology cannot be an empty exercise. It’s for life in Christ, in the local church, in the world. Keeping in step with the Spirit is not optional for the theologian. 

Theology keeps our spirituality from spinning out of control into something that has the form of godliness but not the power.  Theology is a governor. Spiritual is an oxygenator. 

The late Eugene Peterson said it well:

“A great deal of theology has to do with doctrine, with getting it right. Spiritual theology aims to bring that together within a lived life. The conviction behind spiritual theology is that the Bible—and all of Christian belief—is livable. It’s not just something to be held in your head or performed through your actions and ethics, but actually embodied. The model for spiritual theology is the incarnation, and spiritual theology is understood in the context of the Trinity, where everything is relational. There is no disembodied Christian truth. There’s no abstraction about the Christian life. It is all intended to be lived in a coherent way.”

Truth renews us. The word of God is living and active for our living and actions. Living water is learned, enjoyed, energizing us to pick up our cross and continue our apprenticeships with Jesus of Nazareth. Spiritual Theology keeps our eyes on the books and on our Lord, where we hear again, “Follow me. Come to me.” Yes, Lord. 

What you will find here in the Spiritual Theology newsletter are writings, devotionals, bread crumbs, and other resources that keep us on the trail of lived theology. Welcome. Let’s learn to walk with our chin up, leaning forward, looking to our risen Lord. As our brother Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” May we have ears to hear, hands to serve, hearts to love.

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