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To minister effectively we must minister from our personal centre. This means we must journey within
ourselves and encounter both the self that lies beneath the superficial ego and the God in whom our existence
is grounded.

The way we respond to this God, and the way we minister, will depend largely on two factors, personality
type and socialization. The sort of people we are and the particular Christian tradition that has nurtured us
will predispose us towards acceptance of a particular theological model of spirituality.

An increasing number of writers are in the process of exploring the relationship between personality type and
personal spirituality. Many find the Jungian paradigm and the Enneagram particularly helpful.

This paper will leave this issue aside. It aims, instead, to tentatively explore a number of theological models
of spirituality. These models, which represent an element of caricature, are not pure types. Christians will
recognize elements of themselves in several of the models. In fact, it is contended that spiritual maturity can
be measured in part by the degree to which people have incorporated into their personal spirituality elements
of all of the models, particularly those with which they were initially unfamiliar.

Each of the models will be distinguished by a particular combination of theological indicators. That is, each
will be seen to have a distinct view of God, of people, of salvation, of the church and of the world.
Furthermore, while the list of models is not exhaustive, it is reasonably comprehensive.

The Evangelical Model

The Evangelical model is cerebral-rational. It is concerned with the past and future more than the present. It
appeals to middle class Christians, for whom law and order rather than social justice is a primary concern.

In the Evangelical model, the most significant thing about God is his holiness or righteousness. He is also seen
as loving.

Persons are viewed primarily as sinners, though this emphasis is being challenged. Certainly, there is more
emphasis on our sin than on our being made in the image of God. There has also been a tendency for persons
to be seen as tripartite beings, consisting of body, soul and spirit--a vestige of the Aristotelian penchant for
categorization. It is also argued that persons cannot be educated to goodness, as Rousseau, and to a lesser
extent [45] Aquinas, suggested, and that God needs to intervene to rescue them from themselves.

Salvation results from the mission of Christ and the exercise of faith. Faith involves the acceptance of
evidence and a trusting of oneself to Christ and culminates in repentance, and, in some traditions, believers'
baptism. The consequence of this response is rebirth.

Evangelical spirituality views the world as the sphere of the devil. Christians venture into this world, in their
Christian service as distinct from their work-a-day lives, in rescue teams.

Over recent years there has been a healthy reaction against the Evangelical neglect of social justice and the
earlier tendency to privatize faith.

Evangelicals nurture their faith through a devotional reading of the Scriptures, through prayer and through
attendance at worship. They also feel responsible to share their faith with others, an experience that
strengthens commitment.

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The positive contribution of the Evangelical model is many-sided. It emphasizes the importance of the Bible
as the Christian's authoritative source document. It highlights the need for an individual response to the
gospel and the possibility of inner transformation. It emphasises God's call to individuals and to the church to
evangelize and underlines the impermanence of present world structures.

In critiquing this model a number of points need to be made.

In the hands of certain advocates the Evangelical model appears to be in search of absolutes, absolutes that
attract persons looking for emotional security.

The righteousness of God, that which most distinguishes him, is often conceived of negatively. It is argued
that he cannot look on evil. Though it is emphasized that God is a loving God, his acceptance is sometimes
regarded as conditional on our behaviour and our acceptance of what he has done for us in Christ.

A body-spirit dualism, Platonic in origin, is also evident. The feeling self and the body, particularly sexuality,
are frequently regarded as tainted and the revivalist stereotype of rebirth is often considered mandatory for

Because of the strong cerebral bias of this approach, Evangelical spirituality is also in danger of preaching
salvation by belief, a form of salvation by works, and of substituting fascination with "grace" as a concept for
the affective experiencing of grace. [46]

The Devil often serves as a convenient scapegoat. Furthermore, some Evangelicals dichotomise their attitude
to the world. They criticise evils associated with alcohol, tobacco and sex, leaving grosser injustices without
remedy. At the same time they sometimes fail to scrutinize the morality of their business and social ethics.

It needs to be acknowledged, however, that over more recent years a growing number of Evangelicals,
awakening to issues of welfare, justice, ecology and peace, are injecting a new vitality into the Christian
response to these concerns.

The Liturgical Model

The Liturgical model enlists the service of the imagination. Its principal focus is on the past, though a past
that is relevant to an experienced present. God is located in ritual and mystery. Those attracted to the
liturgical model are drawn from many socio-economic levels. Most were nurtured in the faith from childhood.

For those who appreciate the Liturgical approach, God is experienced as awesome, yet numinous and
immanent. Knowledge of God is preserved in the Church and in tradition.

Within the rich ritual tradition, persons are seen as the objects of God's mercy.

Salvation, which is of God, reaches those operating out of a Liturgical spirituality primarily through the
sacraments, as a grace received through the ministrations of priests who generally claim some form of
apostolic lineage. Salvation is a process fostered through liturgical nurture.

Liturgical communities, most of which would be classified sociologically as "church type" bodies, work
within secular society, and often with its leadership, to effect changes in society.

God is experienced primarily in the corporate worship of the Church. Ritual celebration, buildings and art
forms symbolically and sacramentally mediate God's presence. Personal prayer, Christian literature and,
frequently, the meaningful recitation of the daily offices, enhance this experience.

The positive emphases of the Liturgical model are numerous. It focuses on the apostolic rootedness of the
faith and emphasizes the corporate nature of the Church. The Church is viewed as a worshipping community
and as a community within the wider human community with which it is intimately related. The educative
and nurturing functions of the Church are also stressed.

There are also numerous dangers associated with this approach. [47]

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The first of these is that ritual can substitute for God's real presence, worship can become purely formal and
the God of the past, a God of old buildings and ceremonies, can appear to have little contemporary relevance.

The older rituals, particularly those influenced by Cranmer, placed too much stress on human perversity and
divine judgement. In fairness, however, it needs to be mentioned that, as newer rituals develop, the concept
of persons as the recipients of God's love, persons who exist within a relational nexus between God and
humankind, have come more to the fore.

Those drawn to a Liturgical spirituality need also to ensure that mystery does not become magic.

Because the larger liturgical communions are "church type" bodies, particularly those that are state churches,
they are often uncomfortable confronting governments over social injustice. There are, however, sufficient
instances of great personal courage manifesting as uncompromising prophetic denunciation, to temper this

The Activist Model

The Activist model engages the will. Its focus is the present. It is a mixed bag and made up mostly of an older
generation committed to the social gospel, of theologians of liberation and of persons experimenting with
alternative lifestyles.

Those operating out of this model view God as a pilgrim God, the God of the prophets. He is at work in a
world of rampant injustice, seeking to make human life more human. He is the God of justice and peace.

Each person is viewed as a unity, made in the image of God. Persons are communal and political beings,
responsible before God for their private and public morality. They are seen as the product of structures, as
well as of genetics and personal environment.

Salvation is viewed as personal and social liberation. It is this-worldly. Response to God's love involves costly

The Activist views the world in its organic wholeness, with a strong theological focus on creation. As a
physical, social and political reality, it is the object of God's concern. There is an obligation to side with the
poor and those discriminated against. Institutional evil is the devil. It is argued that we should work with God
to bring about a better world, rather than withdrawing from it in anticipation of an eschatological cataclysm.
Christians are urged to ally with all persons of good will who are striving for [48] the same end. This
perspective refuses to draw a clear line of demarcation between Christians and non-Christians.

Activists feel close to God when they are responding to hurt and injustice. They feel that they are
co-operating with him in making human life more human. They are nurtured by scriptural and other stories of
the overcoming of injustice. Worship, particularly the Eucharist, inspire and resource them.

The positives of the Activist approach are numerous. It is world-affirming. God is seen as active in the world
and as calling Christians to involvement. This model argues that commitment to God involves commitment to
others and emphasises political aspects of the gospel. It is also contended that sin is social as well as personal
and that salvation is concerned with the whole person.

Numerous dangers face the Activist.

This approach has a particular fascination for persons fuelled by unresolved anger deriving from childhood
and later experiences.

One of the more serious dangers facing the Activist is the temptation to overlook personal sin and the need
for personal salvation.

Where the Activist does not face an inner violence, where activism is not balanced with a more introspective,
particularly contemplative spirituality, integrity is likely to be compromised, energy and patience exhausted
and a loss of direction experienced.

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The Contemplative Model

The Contemplative model focuses on the human spirit. It is concerned with the present, or rather the "eternal
now", which is discovered in solitude. Those drawn to a contemplative lifestyle represent a wide
ecclesiological spectrum. They are united in their passion for the life of prayer.

God is seen as "Other" and yet immanent in nature, oneself, others and the pain of the world. Relationship
with God involves the interplay of intimacy and distance. This compassionate God, in his grace, is ever
revealing himself in an experience, for the worshipper, of both denouement and healing.

Persons are viewed as spiritual beings, but spiritual beings that are embodied. They are made for union with
God but are seriously flawed. Self-centredness is persistent and incapably of being completely overcome.
Persons are both OK and not OK. They need space for growth and respond to vulnerability, gentleness and
humility. They also need self-discipline. [49]

Salvation is union with God, divinization. God comes to us in our brokenness as a wounded healer and we
relate to his weakness. God and his salvation are best appropriated through contemplative prayer.

While the world is God's, it is also seductive and jaded. Withdrawal, generally temporary withdrawal, from
the world is encouraged, but only for the purpose of being more fully involved in it, with one's bearings
correctly taken. The individual is prepared for involvement by the transformation of their still centre through
prayer. Groups of Christians, living contemplatively together, can be Christ in the world as gifted

Clearly, those drawn to a Contemplative spirituality find nurture and a closeness to God in a style of
personal, and sometimes corporate, prayer that becomes a lifestyle. For most, worship and the reading of
contemplative literature, particularly the Scriptures, is also important.

The positive contribution of Contemplative spirituality lies in the fact that it gives priority to prayer,
particularly contemplative prayer, which is seen as a means of self-confrontation and growth, as well as an
important preparation for responsible action in the world.

There are several dangers associated with this approach. It can attract those who merely want to escape from
life. Furthermore, there is not the same stress on the need for a decisive act of commitment, or acts of
commitment, that one finds in Evangelical and Activist approaches. The cross and resurrection are in danger
of being down-played, though it must also be admitted that they may be more truly realized in terms of the
crucifixion of a dominant "I" dom. There is also a temptation to quietism.

The Relational Model

The Relational model engages the affect and is focussed on the present. Christianity is seen to be concerned
primarily with relationships, with God, oneself and others. This model is reflected in Barth, Brunner,
existential theologians like Macquarrie, Tillich and Rahner and such popularizers of relational theology as
Keith Miller, Bruce Larson and John Powell. It is a model that appreciates the nature of God "from below",
by reflecting on human nature and on our experience of God.

This model argues that God loves us unconditionally. God does not love us more for behaving well and living
for others, though an openness to him that makes this possible may mean that we are more thoroughly
transformed by the flowing of his love into and through us. God's love is both a feeling love and a volitional
love. It is this love which constitutes his holiness. He always acts for our good. His wrath, expressed in the
consequences of our own and others' sinning, is meant to discipline us and return our attention to him. He is
non-judgemental and changes us through accepting us, as Zacchaeus [50] discovered. His love for us was
costly, culminating in an act of utter self-giving on the cross. His grace is initiatory and ever-active.

Persons are made in the image of God, that is, for relationship with God. The wholeness that results from
such a relationship, constituting the holiness to which we are called, is holistic, involving our minds,
emotions, wills and bodies. For relational theologians there is an acceptance of our body-selves and an

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intimate connection between spirituality and sexuality.

Persons are so made that in their freedom they are capable of co-operating with God's grace. The source of
such freedom is the God-given ability to say "no!" to God. Sin is regarded as a perversion of what is
essentially good, as a sickness and is considered to result largely from society's estrangement from God.

The Relational model draws more on the insights of psychology than sociology.

Salvation is made available through the cross. Christ died for us, but not in a crudely substitutionary way. It is
we, and not God, who are alienated. We are released and reconciled by God's unconditional acceptance of
us. Increasing self acceptance leads to self-forgetfulness and healing and enables us to deny ourselves
healthily, from a position of strength.

The world is seen as a God-given but crippling environment. We are called to bring healing into the area of
social relationships. God works within us, and even outside of us, to make the world a more human place.
What we cannot change we need to learn to live with, comfortably. Compared to the Evangelical model, this
approach posits less of a sharp dichotomy between Christians and those who make no profession of

Those operating out of a Relational model of spirituality are nurtured through personal prayer, worship and
group life that concentrates on affirmation. Literature relating psychology and spirituality and psycho-therapy
may also play a part.

The positive contribution of a Relational spirituality is that it argues that God, as a God of love, is concerned
to bring persons into a fruitful love relationship with himself. It suggests that individuals, whose basic
problem is alienation, are changed through his unconditional acceptance of them. Their increasing wholeness
results from his love being accepted at ever deeper affective levels of the personality, a process that frees
their attention and energies for involvement with others. This perspective emphasises the primacy of the
divine initiative.

The Relational approach confronts several obvious dangers. [51]

One's relationship with God can become too comfortable and the sense of personal responsibility can be

The stress on the need to develop our basic humanity may not be balanced by a growing capacity for self
denial. It is also possible that people could become so accustomed to God's grace that they imagine that the
resources they call upon are theirs apart from Him.

There is also the danger of being preoccupied with navel gazing, together with a selling out to therapeutic

The Charismatic Model

The Charismatic mode is affective-ecstatic. Attention is directed to the present and future, though both are
seen to be rooted in the past. The focus is on the Spirit's unifying presence. Those attracted to this model are
drawn from churches within the Pentecostal tradition and congregations associated with mainline churches
that would be happy to describe themselves, or their worship style, as Charismatic.

The majority of Charismatics are theologically conservative. There are clear affinities between this model and
the Evangelical model of spirituality.

From the perspective of this model God is seen as a life-giving and renewing Spirit. He is awesome, yet
loving, and expresses himself as affect and power. He works more apart from than through the world. He
impinges upon individuals and communities and yet also stands apart from them in his transcendence. While
experienced in community, he works individually and personally.

This model argues that persons were created by God to enjoy him. They are sinful but capable of being lifted

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from their predicament by God's initiative, provided they are open to him.

Salvation is viewed as a two-stage process involving conversion and sanctification. Some consider
sanctification to be closely connected with baptism in the Spirit. Christians are nurtured in worship in which
singing plays a major role.

The world is to be a place from which one needs to escape. It is enemy territory. God rescues Christians from
its corruption. Christians are called to work in Spirit-gifted ministries that have the power to reclaim captives
to the demonic. Healing plays an important part in Charismatic spirituality and is sometimes accompanied by

Some also argue that we assist God in his salvific activity when we produce the preconditions that enable him
to work, a phenomenon that sometimes manifests as revival. [52]

The positive contributions of the Charismatic model are numerous. It suggests that persons were created to
enjoy God in an experience that is vital and exuberant. It emphasises the central role of the Holy Spirit in
salvation and sanctification. It focuses on the power of love in an experience of togetherness, in which gift
ministries are exercised in the building up of the community. It stresses the importance of praise and the
centrality of healing.

The are also several dangers associated with this approach.

While Charismatics emphasize the importance of affect, they have a tendency to overlook the need for
psychological and spiritual integration, except where the latter is seen to result from the direct action of God.

Human reason tends to be down-played and at times even disparaged. Music, so vital to worship, is
sometimes used almost hypnotically to induce a state of uncritical receptivity.

Furthermore, in the Charismatic view of salvation there is a tendency to stress personal uprightness to the
neglect of social righteousness.

Ecclesiologically, within strongly charismatic congregations, there are generally less checks and balances
capable of countering the personal authority of leaders who, in the worst instances, are capable of developing
cult-like followings.

In addition, the stress in some circles on demonology and exorcism can lead to more prominence being given
to the devil than to Christ.

The Ecumenical Model

The Ecumenical mode is rational-volitional. It is concerned with the present and the immediate future. The
distant future is left to God. The past is a source of interpretive stories and symbolic myths. This approach
breathes a spirit of acceptance and tolerance.

The Ecumenical model has close affinities with the Activist model.

Its emphasis is on the Church and its mission in the world.

God is seen as a God of righteousness and justice. Individual salvation is important but is not
over-emphasized. This God, who is primarily the God of creation, has given the Church the gift of unity and
is working within the Church to help his people realize their oneness. He is a God who is concerned for the
well-being of all people. [53]

Ecumenical spirituality emphasises the corporate rather than the individual aspect of our personhood. We
were created for community but are fallen, sinful, at odds with our brothers and sisters. We mostly overlook
the injustices done to others and the burdens they carry.

At an individual level persons are considered as integrated unities, in the Hebrew sense, and our bodies and

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material circumstances are seen to be as much a concern to God as are our spirits. Humankind, as homo
politicus, is potentially an ecumenical community.

Salvation is freedom from sinful self-centredness. Our response to God's offer of freedom is expressed in
active, costly discipleship. We are called to work with him in establishing a Kingdom of righteousness and
justice. Our response also involves repentance and the peril of owning and working not only with the
ecumenical Church, but also with those outside the Church who are willing to identify with the poor, the
disfranchised and the suffering. This salvation is this-worldly.

The world is God's world. It is the subject of his active concern. The Church is the centre of his broad assault
on its evils. His concern is truly ecumenical and includes all peoples, races, cultures and religions. All are
accepted as subjects of his love and are credited with reflecting facets of his self-revelation.

Because Ecumenical spirituality has affinities with Liturgical, Activist and Contemplative models, and, in
some cases, with the Evangelical, ways of nurturing an Ecumenical spirituality are as various as
commonalities and diversities among those models would suggest.

Positively, Ecumenical spirituality emphasises the oneness and universality of the church and argues the
importance of working for and celebrating its unity. It also underlines the importance of a comprehensive and
positive ecclesiology and suggests that there is a close and critical relationship between the Church and the

Ecumenical spirituality is also prone to the dangers associated, particularly with the Activist model, but also
with other of the models with which it shares kinship.

While generally tolerant, it has at times shown itself to be intolerant of others who are intolerant of its
tolerance. It can also be so broadly ecumenical that the Christianity it represents forfeits all sense of its


This review has been brief, and, because of this, the models are overdrawn, with an element of deliberate
overstatement. [54]

At this point a further confession needs to be made. If greater attention was given to the dysfunctions of the
Evangelical model, in comparison with those of other models, the reason for this was not that the Evangelical
model was more prone to error or abuse than the rest, but rather to the fact that this was the model in which
the writer was initially nurtured. Its weaknesses have, therefore, been more obvious because they were
experienced at first hand.

These theological models of spirituality and ministry, are by no means mutually exclusive. There is
considerable overlap, though some will be less tolerant towards certain models at particular stages in their
pilgrimage. It is hoped that an acquaintance with the variety of theological models of spirituality, and the
understanding that different people respond to God in different ways, depending on the model or models of
spirituality out of which they operate, will foster both tolerance and fresh insights.

As was stated at the outset, a mature spirituality will be marked by a roundedness that is theological as well
as personal and phenomenological. Thus, while different individuals, because of their personality style and
the mix of theological influences to which they have been exposed, will be drawn to a particular theological
model of spirituality, as they mature their personal spirituality will increasingly incorporate elements found in
other of the models.

The unique theological mix of characteristics that constitutes our spiritualities will have considerable bearing
on the way we minister and on the issues our ministries address. This also means that it is important that we
continue growing personally and theologically, for it is through such development that the effectiveness of
our ministries will be enhanced.1 [55]

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1 This chapter first appeared as "Theology, Spirituality, Ministry", in St. Mark's Review, No. 144, Summer 1991, 22-27

[SFM 45-55]

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Copyright © 1998, 2000 by Graeme Chapman

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