There is extraordinary interest these days in what it means to be a Christian. A decade ago the interest was focused more on what Christians believed than on what they were. Now the reverse seems to be true. In the last few years, over 500 books have crossed my desk relating in one way or another to spirituality or living the Christian life. There is no indication that this flood will slow down anytime soon.
Although considerable diversity exists in this veritable deluge of material, it is still possible to pinpoint some trends. Whether the ideas are a reflection of the way things are or just represent what is desired is difficult to say. I suspect it is a mixture of both.
What stands out is a fundamental stress upon such ideas as wholeness, unity, and integration. There is a shift toward looking at life as a whole. In theory, body, soul, and spirit have given way to psychophysical unity. In practice, spiritual, emotional, and physical problems, considered as discreet difficulties, have given way to “personal” problems having various components. The relation of diet to prayer, exercise to worship, emotion to thought, vitamins to meditation, sex to well-being—even glamour to successful living—are all being looked at. Nothing is seen as independent of anything else; all is related to the whole human fact.
Along with this stress upon unity is a stress upon personal relations. Individualism is giving way to a “man in community” ideal. The value of personal devotions is not denied, but it is often observed that if private devotions do not revitalize personal relationships in the family, church, and society, they are no more than spiritual self-indulgence. It is possible that the “me generation” is now becoming a “we generation”—at ...1
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