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Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal Paperback – July 13, 1979


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Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal + Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life + Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 455 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (July 13, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087784626X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877846260
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard F. Lovelace (Th.D., Princeton) is emeritus professor of church history at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the author of Homosexuality and the Church (Revell) and The American Pietism of Cotton Mather (Eerdmans).

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Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
I first read this book in the mid 1980s.
David George Moore
While Reformed theologically, Lovelace appreciates the best of the Protestant traditions and accept the ongoing power of the charismatic gifts.
Douglas Groothuis
This book is both history and spiritual journey, with a framework of theological reflection similar to the book of Acts mixed in.
Stephen M. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Wayland Wong on February 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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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Donner C. S. Tan on July 25, 2006
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.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Anderson on September 10, 2005
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on November 2, 2008
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam Smith on October 9, 2012
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.
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