Many have noted a decline in many aspects of the American church. By appealing to Christians' desire for holiness, Elaine Heath advocates an ancient three-fold way of purgation, illumination, and union in returning to the church's mission. Heath looks at contemplative spirituality as the way out of the church's predicament, not actively engaging others in witness but rather attempting to bring the church back to outreach by looking inward. Less a manual about how to evangelize and more a crazy quilt of mystic biographies, a diagnosis of the church, and a memoir concerning a friend's religious journey, this book discards traditional evangelistic techniques for a focus on a contemplative vision for evangelism.
Although each generation searches for effective ways to be salt and light, Elaine Heath argues that the church is currently in an especially difficult place--a dark night of the soul. She calls the church to embrace, rather than ignore, its difficulties and find different ways of doing outreach.
Heath brings a fresh perspective to the theory and practice of evangelism by approaching it through contemplative spirituality. By looking to mystics, saints, and martyrs of church history--such as Ignatius of Loyola, Julian of Norwich, St. Francis, John Wesley, Mother Theresa, and Henri Nouwen--she suggests we can discover ways of thinking about God that result in a life of outreach.
Elaine A. Heath (PhD, Duquesne University) is McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism and director of the Center for Missional Wisdom at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. An ordained United Methodist minister, she has served several churches and has taught at several seminaries. She is also the coauthor of More Light on the Path.
Elaine A. Heath (Ph.D., Duquesne University) is McCreless Assistant Professor of Evangelism and director of the Center for Advanced Study of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. An ordained United Methodist minister, she has served several churches and has taught at several seminaries. She is also the coauthor of More Light on the Path.
Elaine Heath argues that the church is in a dark night of the soul. It has thus lost its prophetic voice, its effectiveness in proclaiming the good news of redemption. Rather than resisting or decrying this state of affairs, the church, says Heath, ought to embrace its situation as a starting point for renewal of its vitality, and consequently, its witness. A solution is proposed in the wisdom and contemplative spirituality of the great saints and mystics, people such as Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Phoebe Palmer, Henri Nouwen, and others. As our vision of God is renewed, mission is reenergized.
This book brings fresh insights into the theory and practice of evangelism by examining it through the lens of the classic threefold path of purgation, illumination, and union. Different ways of thinking about evangelism are drawn from the lives and teachings of the mystics. Different ways of practicing evangelism are then proposed via narrative theology. The result is a holistic perspective, offering a corrective to programmatic and consumeristic forms of evangelism so prevalent today, and offers a unique contribution to the discussion on evangelism in our postmodern world.