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Dynamics of Spiritual Life [Paperback]

Richard F. Lovelace
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 15 1990
Richard F. Lovelace draws from biblical models and church history to present a comprehensive approach to spiritual renewal.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Richard Lovelace Feb. 8 2002
Format:Paperback
In Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Lovelace gives a scholarly, yet non-technical, analysis of the elements of revival (which Lovelace correctly dubs normal "spiritual life"). The book looks at scriptural principles, examines past revivals, and establishes a theologically sound model for implementing the lessons learned from the scriptures & the wisdom of the past. Drawing much upon Jonathan Edwards, Lovelace proposes that the elements of revival are: conviction of sin, deep understanding of justification, movement of the Spirit, prayer, community, missions, & social compassion.
Richard Lovelace is an under-recognized great Christian thinker. This volume is scholarly, insightful, and surprisingly devotional. The principles are applied and oft quoted by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York. Redeemer has grown and planted about a dozen churches over the last decade. I consider this a must read for anyone who wants to understand how God works radically in normal "spiritual life."
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Richard Lovelace Feb. 8 2002
By Wayland Wong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Lovelace gives a scholarly, yet non-technical, analysis of the elements of revival (which Lovelace correctly dubs normal "spiritual life"). The book looks at scriptural principles, examines past revivals, and establishes a theologically sound model for implementing the lessons learned from the scriptures & the wisdom of the past. Drawing much upon Jonathan Edwards, Lovelace proposes that the elements of revival are: conviction of sin, deep understanding of justification, movement of the Spirit, prayer, community, missions, & social compassion.
Richard Lovelace is an under-recognized great Christian thinker. This volume is scholarly, insightful, and surprisingly devotional. The principles are applied and oft quoted by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York. Redeemer has grown and planted about a dozen churches over the last decade. I consider this a must read for anyone who wants to understand how God works radically in normal "spiritual life."
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spiritually rejuvenating book July 25 2006
By Donner C. S. Tan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book has had a riveting spell on me since I first read it a decade ago and has continued to shape the fundamental landscape of my understanding of theology and spirituality ever since. He traces his conversion from atheism to his reading of Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, that led him to a journey of spiritual inquiry, where he met Christians of different shades and backgrounds. It was however the Reformed tradition/Puritans that had the most profound impact on him and opened him up to the transforming power of the gospel.

He sees a missing link between justification and sanctification among many believers which he dubs the 'sanctification gap'. He sees how it is possible to have confessed Christ, continue a life of religiosity and remain spiritually dead. In fact, either an encounter with the grace of God without an ensuing commitment to sanctification or an exposure to the righteous demands of God's law without a concomitant experience of his grace can lead to aberrant forms of the Christian life. He offers a way forward by explicating how justification and sanctification are brought together conceptually and in practice.

Presenting his understanding from the Reformed perspective, he outlines the fundamental core of the gospel message that can truly set us on a vibrant course of growth and renewal. This includes depth conception of sin, and encounter with the life-transforming grace of God, justification as well as sanctification by faith, an experience of God's complete acceptance of us through the righteous achievements of Christ, claiming our authority through Christ's defeat over the diabolic, prayer and complete reliance on the Spirit, disenculturation (freedom from cultural binds)of our faith and theological integration.

He includes some additional musings on music, eschatology, live orthodoxy and Christian social concern, each of which is inspiring and thought provoking. I have found the book to be beautiful and succint in its expression and spiritually and theologically challenging. He has written a simpler version of this book with discussion questions more recently for the benefit of some who found this original work less accessible but I have found that it is nothing like reading and drinking in again and again Lovelace's very fine book 'Dynamics of Spiritual Renewal' in all its depth and beauty.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Chip's Top Ten (wordsntone.com) Sept. 10 2005
By Stephen M. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was one of the first to reveal that my sanctification is part of a larger, grander scheme than my private, personal spirituality. Dynamics reaches back into Church history and outlines the spirit's work through men and events, culminating in a premise for renewal that is bigger than "I." This book is both history and spiritual journey, with a framework of theological reflection similar to the book of Acts mixed in. A book like this needs to be re-read in this generation of church-growth gurus and mega-church ideology.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Theology of Holistic Reformation and Renewal Nov. 2 2008
By Douglas Groothuis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For four years in the early 1980s, I taught from this book in a year-long course I taught at the University of Oregon (Eugene), the third quarter of which addressed Christian social ethics and theology of culture. What a feast it was.

Dr. Lovelace approaches the theology of renewal as a church historian, who draws wisely from many movements and thinkers, of whom Jonathan Edwards features prominently. While Reformed theologically, Lovelace appreciates the best of the Protestant traditions and accept the ongoing power of the charismatic gifts. His reflections are deeply biblical, theologically rich, and spiritually heartening. To give just one example, his discussion of justification and sanctificatin is clear and cogent. It is also foundational to any Spirit-led renewal. Twenty years after I taught this material, one of my students email to say how helpful this was in her young Christian life.

The American church desperately needs renewal and reformation. This book, though written in 1979, can help chart the way. I cannot think of any book as profound, wise, and challenging on these matters. Yes, it is high time to reread this modern classic. Thanks to InterVarsity for keeping it in print all these years.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent presentation and challenge to churches and individual believers Oct. 9 2012
By Adam Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Book Highlights

From the back cover of this book, we have the following summary: "Richard Lovelace gives a history of spiritual renewals in light of biblical models. Isolating the elements of live orthodoxy, he proposes a comprehensive approach to renewal. Lovelace looks at such practical issues as renewal of the local congregation, the ways revivals go wrong, the evangelical thrust toward church unity, and Christian approaches to the arts and social concern. A book for all concerned to revitalize the church."

This book helps us to see the big picture of the historical development and the current challenges in the evangelical movement. Lovelace covers a broad range of historical church movements. He begins with Jonathan Edwards; then moves to the Great Awakenings and other revival movements over the past 400 years. He examines models of renewal and the need for continuous renewal by fighting our common enemies of sin, the flesh and the world. Spiritually, the church needs to have a deep understanding of justification, sanctification, the empowering or filling of the Holy Spirit and exercising the authority of Christ in spiritual warfare through prayer.

Second, Lovelace examines missions and prayer and their importance for renewal. He also emphasizes the importance of a unified community of believers, theological integration (not allowing minor issues to divide us) and "disenculteration". This last term means that we need to see our societal culture for what it is and our particular church culture for what it is; and deepen our understanding of our collective strengths and weaknesses.

In the second half of the book, Lovelace examines the local congregation and its need for renewal. He criticizes the lack of sanctification in individual believers and how that can lead to division and a drifting away from renewal. He examines the concept of "live orthodoxy". He says that live orthodoxy is the way in which we live out our faith coupled with the way in which we think (having sound doctrine and a renewed mind). He contrasts live orthodoxy to dead orthodoxy. That is, it is possible to have the correct creeds and confessions and have lives that are still unrenewed. On the other hand, it is possible to have personal commitment to Christ without any clear doctrinal commitment. Lovelace advocates that we must have both to have an effective witness to the world. His vision comes from Ephesians 4:12-16 which calls for unity and a deep theology that is thoroughly biblical and essentially normative.

Lovelace goes on in the final chapters to examine issues such as church unity, apostasy, separation from corrupt denomination structures, ecumenical dialog and the development of a healthy unity that presents a united front to the world, while not doing away with the existing denomination structures.

Given all the above discussion, Lovelace asks whether or not it is possible for western culture to be renewed. Can we see springs in a dry land, roots nourishing the tree? Are we in a trough that will soon be a mountain-top? Are we at the point of no return? Lovelace is optimistic. He sees renewal happening across the globe. The church is alive and well on the whole, even if the West has in recent times rejected the church as the answer to its problems.

Finally, Lovelace tackles social renewal in the structures of society that help the poor and educate our children. He says we have a duty to help the poor even with our higher duty to preach the gospel. We must not lose sight of either mandate. Jesus ministered to the poor. He did not simply come to preach and train up 12 disciples and then die on the cross. He had compassion on the real needs of people.

In the final chapter, Lovelace examines eschatology. He says that no matter what the personal views are of when Jesus will return to claim the Bride of Christ, that churches have the responsibility to be missional. We must push for the spread of the gospel in the world with a sense of urgency and excitement. In this push, we will eventually see the Lord fulfilling his plans for his people and the world at large.

Book Evaluation

I believe this book is important for Christians to consider. We need to have an understanding of church history, especially the history of evangelicalism. We need to see where we fit in and gain an understanding of the big picture and how we can help to further the cause of the gospel and the building up of the church. Our mandate from our Lord demands it. He told us to "Go and make disciples of all nations". I think this book can help us to understand our past, rightly assess our current challenges, and gain insight and motivation for where we need to concentrate our efforts going forward.

One point where I would criticize Lovelace is that he is fine with mystical practices and that they may be helpful in personal renewal. He seems to think that they are okay as long as we avoid extremes. I would hold to the view that mystical practices such as contemplative prayer and inwardly focusing on the presence of God are unsafe and not helpful in our spiritual growth. Paul tells us to renew our minds in Romans 12. This requires that the Word of God become central in our thinking and the prime motivator of our actions.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to everyone. I believe it will inspire you to a deeper commitment to Christ, a better understanding of the church and a deeper commitment to do your part in expanding the kingdom of God.
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