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Evan Howard: The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality


Evan B. Howard, The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2008), 496 pages, ISBN 9781587430381.

Evan Howard has constructed a college or seminary textbook on spirituality that is thorough in its approach, wide in its scope, and deep in its content. The format that he employed benefits the reader by opening each chapter with effective introductions, outlines, and stated objectives. These are wrapped up by summary statements, study questions, and in-depth suggestions for further reading. Howard provides an application on “Practicing Christian Spirituality” that is well suited to engage the reader experientially. Sidebars and character profiles interspersed throughout help illustrate how theories of spirituality have been lived out. On a lighter note, Howard has inserted appropriate cartoons to tease the truth out of the quirkiness of the churched culture, which is a welcomed comic-relief approach to include in a college textbook. Finally, the book concludes with a glossary of the religious terms utilized by the textbook.

The strength of Howard’s textbook rests on his commitment to explain the systems of thought, theology, psychology, and sociology in the history of Christian spirituality. Not presuming on his reader’s knowledge, he has been careful to explain each step and process. For example, when discussing the concept of prayer as a dialogue with God, he first explains theories of human communication. However helpful this may be to the new learner, it becomes tedious to one who is familiar with the theories. Herein lies the tension, how can any author present the mysteries of the spirit via the means of an academic text? How much can anyone learn about spirituality from a textbook?

The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality is well suited for upperclassmen or for seminarians who have not yet laid a foundation of Christian spirituality. Howard’s textbook has the potential to augment the guidance of a spiritual mentor or director who is active in spiritual discipleship.

Reviewed by John R. Miller


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Category: Fall 2009, Living the Faith

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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