“What father among you, if his son asks fora fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then,who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 11-13)
Dr. John Kleinig, a theology professor from Australia, seems to be one of today’s most highly respected Lutheran teachers (you can even listen to his lectures here!) Many revere him as an excellent guide on the topic of true spirituality, and I to, have found his teaching to be both profound and helpful. Here and here and here and here are some of the good things that have been recently said about his book Grace Upon Grace (this is the kind of book of which people say stuff like: “I was underlining/highlighting but then I realized I had done this to the whole page”, etc)
I am re-reading this book and will be posting parts of it that resonate with the focus of this blog. In the first two posts, we will see Dr. Kleinig framing spirituality as a matter of “receptivity” :
“Luther distinguished his own practice of spirituality from the tradition of spiritual formation that he had experienced as a monk. That tradition followed a well-tried, ancient pattern of reading, meditation, and prayer. Its goal was ‘contemplation,’ the experience of ecstasy, bliss, rapture, and illumination through union with the glorified Lord Jesus. To reach this goal, a monk ascended in three stages, as on a ladder, from earth to heaven. The ascent began by reading a passage from the Scriptures aloud to quicken the mind and arouse devotion; it proceeded to heartfelt praying and meditating on heavenly things; it ended in waiting for the experience of contemplation, the infusion of heavenly gifts, and the bestowal of spiritual illumination.
In contrast to this, Luther proposed an evangelical pattern of spirituality as reception rather than self-promotion. This involves three things: prayer, meditation, and temptation. All three revolve around ongoing, faithful attention to God’s Word. The order of the list is significant, for unlike that traditional pattern of devotion, the spiritual life begins and ends here on earth. These three terms describe the life of faith as a cycle that begins with prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit through meditation on God’s Word, and results in spiritual attack. This, in turn, leads a person back to further prayer and intensified meditation. Luther, therefore, does not envisage the spiritual life as a process of self-development, but as a process of reception from the triune God. This process of reception turns proud, self-sufficient individuals into humble beggars before God .” (p. 16 and 17, italics mine)
Part II coming in a couple days.