Spiritual theology isn’t a new term. The late Eugene Peterson served as a professor of spiritual theology at Regent in Vancouver. Richard Lovelace writes about spiritual theology in his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life. The term, spiritual theology, has been around for years but has been lost in the lanes of Christianity that you and I are most likely swimming in. But we can retrieve it.
Maybe you are familiar with the spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, prayer, fasting, and so on). Spiritual theology isn’t only about those practices and habits of personal growth in Christ. Spiritual theology is about those disciplines and more. It is about the habits of growth and the living of what we learn and love about God and his word. It's doctrine and devotion. It's loving God and living with God.
Spiritual theology is the attention we give to living what we know and believe about God.”
— Eugene Peterson
This is the Christian life. Knowing the grace of God and then living from it, for it. Knowing Christ forgives any sinner who comes to him, then confessing our sins to him, and inviting others to do the same. Knowing God is patient, so we ask him to grow us in patience— and we are mindful of pursuing patience as a child spills milk on the cloth seats of your truck and the smell baked in over the weekend.
Learning, Loving, Living
Jen Wilkin captures the important intersection of theology (learning) and spirituality (living) when she says, “The heart cannot love what the mind doesn’t know.” And I’d like to add—the body lives what you love. We act from our affections. The heart is the mission control of our daily lives. Spiritual theology give attention to this dynamic of learning, loving, living.
The apostle Paul tells us how Christians ought to live. Or, I guess we should say who we are to live for.
And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
— 2 Corinthians 5:15
We no longer live for ourselves, but for Jesus, the one who died for our sins and then rose from the dead, and who is alive and well in the heavenly places. That’s the point of spiritual theology—pointing us toward Jesus. The Christian life is looking to Christ.