The Need for a Theological Spirituality
by Thiago Silva, ThM
On the one hand, we are in urgent need of a more spiritually grounded theology that addresses the entirety of the human being, affirming the sacredness of life and ministry, and reclaiming a language that is personal and infused with deep affection.
On the other hand, however, we must also recognize the absence of a theological spirituality that sets clear boundaries, defines contours, and establishes solid foundations.“We are in urgent need of a more spiritually grounded theology that addresses the entirety of the human being.”
We acknowledge the deep longing within the human spirit, a yearning for intimacy, the sacred, and a transcendent meaning that surpasses our rational narratives—a yearning that reaches into the depths of the human soul.
Yet, we must also acknowledge the prevailing spiritual trend, a wave in our culture that is heavily influenced by narcissism, rooted in modern psychology and self-centered anthropology.
This wave lacks the necessary resources to fill the void in humanity, which was created in the image and likeness of God.
In order to embrace a more theological spirituality, we must identify and address certain crucial needs.
1. We Need a Spirituality Rooted on the Doctrine of the Trinity
The doctrine of the Trinity serves as the cornerstone of Christian spirituality and biblically rooted theology.
It unveils a God who extends an invitation for us to partake in the eternal communion experienced by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As beings created in the image and likeness of God, we were designed for Trinitarian fellowship.
In His “priestly prayer,” Jesus conveys, “May they all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn. 17:21).“The doctrine of the Trinity serves as the cornerstone of Christian spirituality and biblically rooted theology.”
Jesus beckons us to participate in the same communion enjoyed by the Son and the Father.
This invitation becomes accessible to those who have been reconciled with God through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Through the doctrine of the Trinity, we grasp the nature of the new existence found in Christ. Our identity, rooted in the revelation of the Trinity, is relational rather than functional.
Our personhood is not defined by mere actions (what we do) but by our connection with God and others (who we are). We are shaped by what we love.
The Trinity instills in us a sense of ecclesial being, enabling us to comprehend that conversion entails a transformation from “I” to a glorious “we.”
The revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity also illuminates the significance of knowledge.
Athanasius of Alexandria and the Cappadocian Fathers, such as Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa understood that “the being of God can only be known through personal relationships and personal love. Being means life, and life means communion. . . Without the concept of communion, it would not be possible to speak of the being of God” (John Zizioulas). “The Trinity instills in us a sense of ecclesial being, enabling us to comprehend that conversion entails a transformation from “I” to a glorious “we.'”
Knowledge of the Son necessitates the involvement of the Father, and understanding the Father relies on the revelation of the Son. Without comprehending the communion within the Trinitarian being of God, true knowledge of God remains elusive.
The doctrine of the Trinity safeguards us from the perils of a spirituality that neglects the nature of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier God.
It shields us from a god that can be known without Christ’s mediation.
The biblical God is not merely an arbitrary deity but specifically the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Absent a Trinitarian framework, theology becomes exceedingly vulnerable and engenders a spirituality devoid of biblical and Christian foundations.
2. We Need a Spirituality Oriented to the Community
Given that the nature of God is relational, the regenerated person in Christ also possesses a relational nature. Conversion represents a profound transformation from individuality to personhood.
The individual exists as a self-contained being, driven by self-promotion. It tends to be narcissistic, perceiving freedom solely in terms of autonomy and independence, and regarding its limited reality as the only truth.“The biblical God is not merely an arbitrary deity but specifically the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Conversely, the person flourishes in communion, finding fulfillment in affectionate relationships and friendships.
It embraces altruism, viewing freedom as self-giving, obedience, and love, and remains open to revelation beyond itself.
In Christ, this new person receives others in the same way they are received by Christ. Within this transformative dynamic, the church transcends being a mere religious association where self-interest dictates actions and personal preferences dictate friendships.
Instead, it becomes a genuine community of brothers and sisters who mutually dedicate themselves to authentic acceptance and communion. “Conversion represents a profound transformation from individuality to personhood.”
Our relationships are no longer determined by ideologies or shared projects alone; they are grounded in eschatological hope.
The Apostles’ Creed affirms our belief in God the Father, the Creator of all things; in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior; in the Holy Spirit; in the forgiveness of sins; in the resurrection; in eternal life; and in the Church.
The Church is an integral part of the Creed’s foundational convictions. Just as we believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we also place our faith in the Church as the environment of communion for those who are saved in Christ.
It is the community of the Kingdom that gives visible expression to the redemptive work accomplished by Christ in the world.
Belief in the Church encompasses far more than recognizing the need for participation in its mission. “It is the community of the Kingdom that gives visible expression to the redemptive work accomplished by Christ in the world.”
It involves acknowledging that we have been saved and constituted as the people of God—a “kingdom of priests,” the “Body of Christ”—with a mission to bear witness to God’s glory throughout history.
A theological spirituality that is more profound must affirm the Church as the community of those who confess Christ as their Lord.
3. We Need a Spirituality Centered on the Word of God
The purpose of Christian spirituality is our growth in Christ, as we undergo a transformative process through the Word of God and increasingly participate in the life of Christ.
The Apostle Paul emphasizes that since we have been raised with Christ, our lives are now hidden in Him.
Therefore, spiritual life is not about conforming to prevailing social values, but rather embarking on a path of crisis and transformation, where the tension between the Word of God and the world remains ever-present.“The purpose of Christian spirituality is our growth in Christ.”
This tension manifests in two movements: firstly, the confrontation between the Word of God and the dominant social, moral, and religious order.
Reading and meditating on Scripture brings us consolation, edification, and comfort, but it also challenges, provokes, and confronts us.
This confrontation necessitates an ongoing dialogue between the Word of God and the world in which we live. Paul implores the Romans not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds.
He also speaks of the need to possess the “mind of Christ,” whereby our thinking aligns with His criteria, values, and principles.
The second movement involves the confrontation between the Word of God and our inner world.
We all carry memories and images from the past that obscure our understanding of God and ourselves.
Negative emotions such as abandonment, fear, and loneliness can shape within us a self-image of inadequacy and rejection, which, in turn, compromises our perception of God.
We also harbor resentments, grudges, envy, and jealousy that tempt us to use God for our own purposes rather than willingly surrendering ourselves to be used by Him. “We all carry memories and images from the past that obscure our understanding of God and ourselves.”
This leads to a confusing and manipulative relationship rather than a serene and confident surrender.
To counteract this, we must allow the Word of God to illuminate our inner world, transforming us into the likeness of Christ, restoring our lives to the image of God, and reclaiming the image of God revealed in Christ Jesus.
The Bible serves as an instrument of transformation and crucifixion, calling for a devotional approach from us.
Reverence and silence are foundational postures for those who seek comfort, confrontation, and transformation.
It is through the Bible that dialogue is established between ourselves and the world, encompassing both the external and internal realms, ultimately shaping us into the image of Christ.
A spirituality that disregards the Scriptures will inevitably lead to crisis and confusion by denying God’s revelation to us.“We must allow the Word of God to illuminate our inner world, transforming us into the likeness of Christ, restoring our lives to the image of God.”
The nature of the divine is not determined by us; it is God Himself who initiates the act of revealing Himself to us, and He does so through His Word.
We see, however, a large mass of evangelical Christians with little or no awareness of their theological and historical calling, shallow in their understanding of the great biblical truths, seeking in churches forms of religious entertainment that are socially irrelevant and theologically immature. The future does not seem very promising.
Christian spirituality cannot subject itself to the subjective and impersonal spiritual models we have today.“Our challenge is to preserve a more theological spirituality, rooted in the doctrine of Trinity, oriented to the Christian community, and centered on the Word of God.”
Although meditation, stillness, and solitude are part of the long spiritual tradition of Christianity, embarking on a subjective path, seeking a kind of inner satisfaction through meditation techniques without considering all the theological and historical implications of the Christian faith, will place us in an extremely fragile and vulnerable position.
The spirituality of today requires a deep and solid theological foundation. However, it must reject the rational and impersonal models of the past.
Therefore, our challenge is to preserve a more theological spirituality, rooted in the doctrine of Trinity, oriented to the Christian community, and centered on the Word of God.
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