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End of Faith as its Beginning: A Christ-Centered Developmental Spirituality

Does the pilgrim progress? Bruce Hindmarsh (Regent College) explores the question of progress in the spiritual life of the Christian. How does the spiritual life begin, how does it develop, and how does it come to its proper fulfillment? These questions are ancient ones and from the beginning were bound up with basic questions of anthropology and psychology. So we will survey the classical account of spiritual development in the doctrine of ascent in terms of the triplica via (the threefold way) and the Reformation revisions of this doctrine, before giving an account of spiritual progress in the early evangelical movement. From this more humanist and historical perspective, we will turn to consider perspectives on spiritual development derived from an evidence-based empirical psychology of human development, before, finally, seeking to integrate this with Scripture in a constructive Christ-centered account of spiritual progress. This is in many ways simply to reprise Charles Wesley who wrote of Christ in one of his hymns as alpha and omega, “end of faith, as its beginning.”