A HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY: An Analytical Introduction by

A HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY: An Analytical Introduction

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Father Holmes writes sensible, imaginative books in the best Anglican tradition, but this one doesn't quite work. It aims to fill a large gap--the lack of a comprehensive guide to ""the wide variety and great richness of the Christian spiritual experience""--but offers no more than a hasty outline (roughly one mystic per page) which is liable to leave the beginner in a state of terminal confusion. Holmes is nothing if not ambitious: he tackles everyone from Evagrius Ponticue to Martin Luther King. In brisk summary fashion he graphs their work along a horizontal axis ranging from apophatic (negative) to kataphatic (imaginal) and a vertical axis going from speculative to affective. Along with a generally accurate but absurdly brief abstract of each individual (or school), Holmes provides a catalogue of his (or their) operative metaphors and a helpful select bibliography. Like everyone else, Holmes has his prejudices. He particularly dislikes pietism in any shape or guise; and he argues, more or less convincingly, that John Eudes' devotion to the Sacred Heart and Nikolaus Zinzendorf's cult of the Five Wounds represent the rock bottom of Christian spirituality. Given the immense scope of his survey, Holmes inevitably comes up with some questionable judgments. Few impartial readers of the Libro de Su Vida would agree that Teresa of Avila was the supreme example of a healthy soul. And to characterize Robert Bellarmine as ""a very reasonable man"" is, to say the least, an oversimplification. Holmes has obviously tried to cram too much into too small a compass. This is a job for a team of scholars--or a one-man academy like Hans KÃœng. Students looking for a magisterial introduction to the interior life from the Christian viewpoint will have to wait a while longer.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Seabury