Evangelicals, Sanctification and Henri Nouwen

Anyone who is deeply committed to the art of spiritual direction and spiritual formation comes across the work of Henri Nouwen, particularly his book “The Wounded Healer.” His book, “The Genese Diary” was assigned for one of the courses I teach, and I read it many times.

One of his metaphors is looking at our wounds like we look at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is a scar, but it has become a point of radiating beauty and it calls to beauty in our souls as we view it. So many I have come across in Evangelicalism testify that at the point of their greatest pain and shaming moments Evangelicalism lost its voice. I find that Evangelicalism as I know it and am committed to it, gives us its best in the doctrine of the New Birth. I find that its doctrine of sanctification has huge gaps. Perhaps this is why most Evangelical churches do well at the point of beginnings. It struggles a bit more as the soul looks out on the landscape of sanctification in all of its twists and turns and complexities. Those who desire “simple sanctification” fit into the Evangelical harness more easily. There are those of us who still call Evangelicalism home but have to borrow from other traditions to maintain ourselves while yet remaining.

Here is the first of three episodes on Henri Nouwen on CBCRadio. I hope you can find the time to listen.

Winsome Words 5/15/15

Prayer in the Scriptures is a renunciation of human means. It is not merely the point beyond which I could not go, the limit of my power which dissolves into impotence, but it is indeed a stripping bare, the abandonment of all human apparatus in order to place myself, without arms or equipment, into the hands of the Lord, who decides and fulfills.  Jacques Ellul