Inter-Religious Spirituality and the Contemplative Renaissance: How Our Friends From Other Faiths Helped Christians Rediscover Our Spiritual Heart

Carl McColman | 2/8/2019 | Staff
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Christianity has a long history of contemplative practice.

But many scholars and spiritual teachers within the faith recognize that in the centuries immediately preceding and following the Reformation, the church (at least in the west) largely lost its contemplative heart.

Robert - Davis - Hughes - III - Topic

Theologian Robert Davis Hughes III addressed this topic in his book Beloved Dust. Hughes wrote that after the Reformation, “spirituality, especially the more contemplative or mystical side, is marginalized as dangerous to the forces of good order.”

The Reformation, on one level, was a fight over authority: is the leadership of the church the final word on earthly religious authority, or is the Bible? In such a debate, contemplatives and mystics, who find at least some sense of authority in the authenticity of their own experience, are indeed likely to be seen as “dangerous to the forces of good order”—by all parties.

Marginalization - Contemplation - Church - Rise - Science

And if the marginalization of contemplation began in the church, the rise of science and modernity meant that the spirituality of inner experience became even more suspect. Is it any wonder that dictionaries (like the Oxford English Dictionary) began defining “mysticism” as, for example, “self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought”?

While the late 19th century saw some resurgence of interest in the interior dimension of spirituality, thanks to the work of psychologists like William James or theologians like Friedrich Von Hügel, the 20th and 21st centuries will probably been seen in ages to come as the age of the renaissance of contemplation in the west.

Age - Age - Encounters

But our age is the also the age of interfaith encounters.

Indeed, ours is the first era of human history when so many different faith and wisdom traditions have become so readily accessible even to the average person, at least in urban centers (and more recently, through cyberspace).

Ways - Spiritual

What is interesting to consider is the ways in which these two spiritual...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Carl McColman
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