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Theology and Spirituality: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners?

  • Sandra M. Schneiders (a1)

After tracing the history of the term “spirituality” and the discipline of spirituality up to the mid-twentieth century, this article describes the contemporary understanding of spirituality as lived religious experience and of the academic discipline which studies this subject. This phenomenology of the discipline grounds a position on the relationship between lived spirituality and theology on the one hand, and the academic disciplines of spirituality and theology on the other.

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1 See Alexander Jon, “What do Recent Writers Mean by Spirituality?Spirituality Today 32 (1980), 247–48.

2 Besides the program at Institut Catholique in Paris and the Institute di Spiritualità at the Gregorian University in Rome there are several doctoral programs in the United States, notably at Fordham University in New York City and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

3 The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Herbermann C. al. (New York: Encyclopedia Press, 19131922).

4 New Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Catholic University of America staff (New York: McGraw-Hill, 19671979).

5 Dictionnaire de Spiritualité Ascétique et Mystique, ed. Viller M. (Paris: Beauchesne, 19371984).

6 The series began under the general editorship of Richard Payne and is being carried forward by John Farina.

7 Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, ed. Wakefield Gordon (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983).

8 The history of the term “spirituality” was studied in great detail by Tinsely Lucy, The French Expression for Spirituality and Devotion: A Semantic Study Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, 47 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1953).

9 See Jean Leclercq, augmenting Tinsley's work, in an article entitled ‘Spiritualitas’”, Studi Medievali 3 (1963), Ser. 3, 279–96. In this section of the paper I am much indebted to Leclercq.

10 For a brief summary of the relevant biblical material, see Sudbrack Josel, “Spirituality,” Sacramentum Mundi (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 6:148–49.

11 See Leclercq Jean, “Introduction,” tr. Coyne Monique, The Spirituality of Western Christendom, ed. Elder E. Rozanne (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1976).

12 Cf. Lumen Gentium V:4041.

13 Pourrat Pierre, Christian Spirituality, 4 vols., tr. Mitchell W. H. and Jacques S. P. (Westminster: Newman, 19531955 [1927]).

14 Tanquerey Adolphe, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology, tr. Branderis H. (2nd rev. ed.; Tournai: Desclee, 1930).

15 Ibid., p. vii.

16 Ibid., p. 1.

17 Ibid., p. 5.

18 Ibid., pp. 5-26.

19 Pourrat , Christian Spirituality, 1:v.

20 Garrigou-Lagrange Reginald, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, 2 vols., tr. Doyle T. (New York: B. Herder, 1948).

21 Most notably, Revue d'ascétique et de mystique which began publication in 1920 changed its name to Revue d'Histoire de la spirituaiité in 1972.

22 Alexander , “What do Recent Writers Mean?” pp. 251–52.

23 Panikkar Raymundo, The Trinity and the Religious Experience of Man: Icon-Person-Mystery (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1973), p. 9.

24 Macquarrie John, Paths in Spirituality (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), p. 40.

25 Wakefield Gordon, “Spirituality,” Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, ed. Wakefield G. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983), p. 361.

26 Hardy Richard P., “Christian Spirituality Today: Notes on its Meaning,” Spiritual Life 28 (1982), 154.

26 Williams Rowan, Christian Spirituality: A Theological History from the New Testament to Luther and St. John of the Cross (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), p. 1.

28 Duquoc Christian, “Theology and Culture: Religious Culture, Critical Spirit, the Humility of Faith, and Ecclesiastical Obedience,” tr. Foster J. R., in Concilium 19 (New York: Paulist, 1966), 89.

29 See Ricoeur Paul, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1976), p. 79.

30 See, on the nature of the field-encompassing field, Harvey Van A., The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966), pp. 38–67, esp. 5459.

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