If we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquility, gentleness, and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything that is based on the loftiness of our religious notions, or fervor of our religious feelings. It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquility, gentleness, and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. Tranquility, gentleness, and strength are the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action.
~ The Spiritual Life, Evelyn Underhill
This is a well-written observation by Ms. Underhill. It makes me want to read the book. She is definitely talking about something that transcends Christianity and applies universally. I see you as moving down that road of realization which leads to the knowledge that we are all the same.
Only in Christ. Only as empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
I don’t know anything else about Ms. Underhill, but based on my reading of her suggested test, it would surprise me if she said something endorsing your view.
Read the last sentence again. The character traits are proof of the Holy Spirit’s working in the life of someone who has surrendered to the Holy Spirit. The context of the passage is a person pursing a relationship with God in Christ. How does a person know she is being transformed and that God dwells in her? One of the ways is how much that person exhibits tranquility, gentleness, and strength.
There are two roads. One is the road Underhill travels where she makes positive statements about gentleness, tranquility and strength and places them above doctrine. This road contains “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” On this road is the belief that while gentleness, etc can attest the Spirit, that gentleness, etc can also be present in people not holding to Christian doctrine.
The other road is the old COC. “Whoever is not immersed as an adult for the right reason is going to hell.” As an observer of your writing I think you want to be on the first road. However, there is something pulling you back. Statements like “Only in Christ. Only as empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.’ are part of the second road, and, I believe, would not be found in Underhill’s writing. Such negativity would not fit her writing and I don’t think it really fits with your own view of where you want to be. I saw you post as an affirmation of Underhill.
“Only in Christ” is not negativity, it is a conviction that our best as human beings is a gift of God’s Holy Spirit. To be fully human as created by God – to be in righteous relationship with our Creator, with the world around us, and with ourselves – only truly happens in Christ. It’s inspiring. It’s humbling. Sure, people who are not Christian can demonstrate love, but I believe that love is still a gift from God. It’s not exclusion, it’s an invitation to more.
Underhill’s writings are considered by most to be Christcentric. My views and hers would be very similar.