1st Edition

The Practice of the Presence of God
Theology as a Way of Life

ISBN 9781472478320
Published November 29, 2016 by Routledge
168 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Exploring the unity of the practice of prayer and the practice of theology, this book draws together insights from world-class theologians including Rowan Williams, Andrew Louth, Frances Young, Margaret R. Miles, Sebastian Brock, and Nicholaï Sakharov. Offering glimpses of the prayer-life and witness that undergirds theological endeavour, some authors approach the topic in a deeply personal way while others express the unity of prayer and the theologian in a traditionally scholarly manner. No matter what the denomination of the Christian theologian - Greek or Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist - authors demonstrate that the discipline of theology cannot properly be practiced apart from the prayer life of the theologian. The prayer of the theologian shapes her or his approach to theology. Whether it be preaching, teaching, writing or research, the deep soundings of prayer inform and embrace all.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Oracles, Prophets, and Dwellers in Silence James Alison


Part 1. Foundational Soundings

1 Theology as a Way of Life Rowan Williams

2 Undergoing Something from Nothing Brian D. Robinette

3 The Trinity as our Ascetic Programme Nicholaï Sakharov


Part 2. Personal Accounts of a Theological Life

4 Ecumenical Confessions of an Unconventional Protestant Frances Young

5 Augustine on Practicing the Presence of God Margaret R. Miles


Part 3. Theological and Liturgical Retrievals

6 The Liturgy, Icons and the Prayer of the Heart Andrew Louth

7 To Feel so as to Understand: Hadewijch of Brabant and the Legacy of St. Anselm Rachel Smith

8 Etching the Ineffable in Words: The Return of Contemplation to Theology Martin Laird

9 The Guidance of St. Ephrem: a Vision to Live by Sebastian Brock

10 The Threat of Death as a Test for Theological Authenticity Luigi Gioia

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Martin Laird, O.S.A., is Professor of Early Christian Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University (USA). His publications include Gregory of Nyssa and the Grasp of Faith; Into the Silent Land; A Sunlit Absence; and An Ocean of Light: Contemplation and the Ethics of Silence (forthcoming from Oxford University Press).

Sheelah Treflé Hidden is a Research Associate with the Heythrop Institute Religion and Society at Heythrop College, University of London. Her main interests are Christian and Islamic Mysticism as well as the Mimetic Theory of René Girard. She is editor of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Mystical Perspectives on the Love of God, and contributing editor to The Handbook of Mimetic Theory.


‘Practice, as Michel de Certeau has reminded us, can become a tactic for reclaiming what has been lost or forgotten or taken from us, can help restore to us a more vital and whole-hearted vision and experience of reality. Such is the gift of this honest, courageous and imaginative collection of essays: it performs or practices what it seeks to illumine. And in so doing, it reopens a conversation that has long haunted the Christian tradition concerning the profoundly immersive, communal and transformative character of theological reflection. A way thinking, a way of being, and yes, a way of life.’

Douglas E. Christie, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University, USA


‘George Herbert described prayer as "God’s breath in man returning to his birth". This volume allows us to hear it. It is difficult to imagine a more inspired and inspiring group of contributors. We must all be grateful to the editors for bringing together what must surely become a classic work.’

Carol Harrison, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Christ Church, Oxford, UK


‘From the reflections of Rowan Williams on "theology as a way of life" to the closing thoughts of Luigi Gioia on death as the test of authenticity, this rich and inviting, prayerful and scholarly collection is proof that contemporary Christian theology is still in touch with the great tradition of practical, penitential, meditative, and mystical attentiveness to the word and presence of the living God.’

Carol Zaleski, Professor of World Religions, Smith College, USA