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Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal

Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal

Lovelace, Richard F.

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Listen to a lecture by Richard Lovelace entitled What God is Doing Now. (C. S. Lewis Institute)


Recommended by John Leonard of Westminster Theological Seminary. See all of Professor Leonard's recommendations.

Publisher Review:

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 to social concern. A book for all concerned to revitalize the church.

456 Pages
Published July 1979

About the Author

Richard F. Lovelace (ThD Princeton), emeritus professor of church history at Gordon-Conwell theological Seminary, is the author of The American Pietism of Cotton Mather.

Book Details

456 Pages
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: July 1979
ISBN 10: 087784626X
ISBN 13: 9780877846260

"There is nothing quite like learning from a church historian who really cares about the outcome of the church’s history—who wants to shape what could happen, not just study what did happen. Richard Lovelace, who formerly taught at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is just such a pastoral historian. With good reason, his Dynamics of the Spiritual Life is still in print after 30+ years, whereas many current best-sellers will be forgotten by next year.

"I read this book multiple times in the 1980s. Though I’ve not reread it since, I still cite from memory many significant Lovelace insights: “characteristic flesh,” “the sanctification gap,” “n-step sanctification,” “the need for a tuned and adapted form of nouthetic counseling.” We all gain from his wisdom on the interrelationship of individual and corporate sanctification, and on the relationship between justification and sanctification.

"Lovelace’s breadth of knowledge and judicious sense for “We’ve seen that before” can shape wise ministries able to combine both earnestness and patience, able to combine the right kind of enthusiasm with the right kind of caution. Of course, some of his examples are dated, and you may not always draw the same conclusions he did. But Lovelace’s sense for how Christian wisdom balances many complementary emphases is worth more than gold."
- David Powlison, from Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor

"I took several courses with Richard Lovelace at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, including the first course “Dynamics of Spiritual Life” in Fall of 1972 that eventually became Lovelace’s book. Along with that course I also took a course he did on Evangelical Awakenings–a history of revivals. To say that these courses were seminal to my thinking and way of doing ministry is a pretty big understatement. Anyone who knows my ministry and reads this book will say, “So that’s where Keller got all this stuff!”

"Twenty-five years ago, when church planters came to me and asked me “what should I read?” I always gave them two books–Lovelace’s Dynamics of Spiritual Life and Michael Green’s Evangelism through the Local Church. The former gave them a way of using the gospel in people’s lives that not only brought them to saving faith but also kept renewing them individually and corporately. The Green book was a practical how-to book on getting that gospel out in a hundred different ways. Dynamics of Spiritual Life is somewhat long and a bit repetitious–but it’s still a book that I think we can’t do without. It was amazingly prescient and will be found still quite relevant to many of today’s debates."
- Tim Keller, from Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor

"Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace is rarely far from my thoughts. The same is true for certain works by Jonathan Edwards, Francis Schaeffer and my dad. These writers have shaped how I see the gospel, life and ministry at a level as deep as perception itself.Lovelace’s Preface defines his book as “a manual of spiritual theology”—in my view, a rare and precious genre. On page 58 he boldly asserts that “virtually all of the problems in the church, including bad theology, issue from defective spirituality.” I wonder what you think of that. My hunch is, some of us doubt that analysis. But I get ahead of myself. Lovelace’s Table of Contents alone deserves thoughtful contemplation. (Page 75 reproduces this outline in briefly expanded form.) It sets a compelling agenda for pastoring and church planting."
- Ray Ortlund, from Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor

“Disciples of Jesus Christ who know the cost of discipleship, heirs of grace who treasure its costly gifts, and men and women of taste and scholarship and civil impulse have good reason for wishing the author luck. No, put that not 'luck' but 'steadfastness' and 'grace.'”
- Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago

“We need a book like this at this time. Lovelace has done the job in a sensitive, insightful, readable way. His work deserves a readership far beyond the Evangelical tradition out of which it grows.”
— Mark J. Link, S.J., author of hese Stones Will Shout and he Seventh Trumpet

“Here is more evidence of growing Evangelical concern with renewal, spirituality and the historic witness of Christianity. Dynamics of Spiritual Life is a major new contribution to our understanding of God's action in the church and in history. While writing from an essentially Reformed perspective, Lovelace remains open to other traditions, including contemporary Neo-Pentecostalism, and is sensitive to God's renewing action historically within Roman Catholicism as well as in Anabaptism, Pietism and other Protestant renewal movements.”
— Howard A. Snyder, author of The Problem of Wineskins and Liberating the Church