Pastors who wish for an authentically biblical view of spirituality will resonate with this recent work by Dr. Holmes. In 16 chapters, the author fulfills his stated intention to express the Seventh-day Adventist understanding and meaning of spiritual formation. From a discussion of left- and right-brain consciousness to discerning the will of God in retirement, he covers a wide scope of subjects essential to spiritual growth and maturity, with each one presented with depth and insight.
Refreshingly faithful to the Bible, the phrase sola Scriptura appears often. Revelation is the only safe guide to spiritual renewal, not subjective experience or the teachings and methods of great mystics. With clarity and simplicity, he bases his concepts on many quoted Bible passages, employing sensitive exegesis and practical applications. After reading a few chapters, one gets the sense of the Bible as a mighty, towering oak in a grassy meadow, offering shade, solace, and fruits of wisdom.
Not dry theory, the work is the fruitage of the author’s many decades of grappling with the joys and challenges of Christian living. Because the faith walk is primarily experiential, Holmes prefers description over definition. The volume reads like a fireside chat with a pastor who feels deeply, thinks intelligently, and shares humbly and honestly.
The author steers a straight course on the hot topic of connecting with the Divine, warning of the pitfalls of legalism, ritualism, easy “believeism,” pantheism, functional atheism, and intellectualism. He points out the similarities between Eastern mysticism and the emerging church and suggests why the latter has become so appealing to many. In that context, he questions whether our approach to biblical faith has been too abstract and cognitive without enough appreciation for the affective dimension of faith. The cure for all our spiritual and theological problems, he says, is found in a prayerful reading of the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White.
Of particular use to clergy is the chapter on Communion. Holmes confidently believes in the “real Presence,” not in the emblems, but in the atmosphere of humble service, renewed faith, and spiritual healing that Christ mediates through the Last Supper. He suggests that believers need transforming—not the bread and wine.
Theology teachers will find cogent counsel in the chapter discussing training of spiritual leaders. Ministerial authority is related more to personal authenticity than to academic training or ordination. Ministers in training need teachers who are not only orthodox but living examples of a “believing faith.” Spirituality is caught, not taught. If you are looking for a book with vitamin-rich concepts to chew on and digest, read this one. You will be rewarded. —Barry Kimbrough, MDiv, serves as pastor of the Worcester and Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Southern New England Conference.