Course Description

Since Pentecost, the Spirit of God has been at work in the Church, teaching Christians His Word, leading them in paths less travelled and enabling them to grow and mature in Christ.

While partaking in the one and the same Spirit of Christ, Christians have often experienced the teachings and guidance of God in diverse ways. Working through the classic spiritual writings, we will explore various themes of Christian spirituality, like struggle, light and darkness, embodiment and the senses, action and contemplation.

The objective of this course then, is to survey the history of Christian spirituality, that is, the diverse writings and experience of Christian men and women from 1st to 15th centuries of Christian history. Drawing from this deep well of ancient wisdom, we trust that their spiritual insights may still be used by God to guide us in our everyday spirituality.


Dr Tan Seng Kong

Lecturer in Systematic and Spiritual Theology

Dr Tan Seng Kong is Head, Technology and Resources at BGST and Lecturer in Systematic and Spiritual Theology. A graduate from Regent College, Vancouver (MA, Spiritual Theology). Seng Kong completed his PhD in Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he focused his research on Jonathan Edwards' Doctrine of Salvation. Seng Kong was formerly an architect. He currently serves at Bethel Assembly of God. When he isn’t preoccupied with theological materials, he dabbles with indoor gardening, watches Korean media with his wife and eats Indian food with his son.
  • Location:

    Online via Zoom (Live)
    with Blended Learning

  • Dates:

    Sep: 12, 26
    Oct: 10, 24
    Nov: 14

    Registration Close Date
    Sept. 7, 2023


  • Time:

    7:15pm - 10:00pm

Course curriculum

  • 1


  • 2

    Session 1 (Live)

    • Patristic Spirituality A - Asceticism

    • Zoom Recording - Lecture 1: Introduction to Desert Spirituality

    • Lecture 1 Slides - Introduction to Desert Spirituality

    • Sayings of the Desert Fathers – Alpha (excerpts)

    • Pachomius, Instruction Concerning a Spiteful Monk

    • Optional Reading: Desert Mothers and Wandering Virgins

    • Optional: How was it made? A traditional Korean inlaid lacquer box

  • 3

    Session 2 (Online)

    • Byzantium/Orthodox Spirituality – The World as a Luminous Sacrament

    • Icons – Holy Images

    • Rowan William, “Idols, Images & Icons”

    • Sunday of Orthodoxy (at Mother of God Orthodox Church)

    • Theodore the Studite, “First Refutation of the Iconoclasts”

    • John Calvin, “Knowledge of God the Creator”

  • 4

    Session 3 (Live)

    • Patristic Spirituality B – The Gift of Mystical Darkness

    • Recording - Spiritual Life as Pilgrimage

    • Slides - Spiritual Life as Pilgrimage

    • Lessons from the Benedictines - Stability & WFH

    • Podcast - "A Secret Badly Kept"

    • Simon Oliver, "Why Study Negative Theology?"

    • Kallistos Ware, "Mystical Theology of the Eastern Fathers"

    • Paul Rorem, "Negative Theologies and the Cross"

    • Gregory of Nyssa, "From Glory to Glory" (excerpts)

    • Background: Nonna Harrison, "Gregory of Nyssa"

    • Ps.-Dionysius, "Mystical Theology"

    • Background: John Jones, "(Pseudo) Dionysius the Areopagite"

  • 5

    Session 4 (Online)

    • Medieval (Italian) Spirituality A – Nature

    • Thomas McDermott, “Catherine of Siena”

    • Lawrence Cunningham, “Francis of Assisi: In His Own Words”

    • Catherine of Siena, "The Dialogue" (Excerpts)

    • Francis of Assisi Canticle Later Rule

    • Background: Darleen Pryds, "Catherine of Siena"

  • 6

    Session 5 (Live)

    • Orthodox Spirituality: Embodied Prayer

    • Recording - Hesychasm and Gregory of Palms

    • Slides - Hesychasm and Gregory of Palamas

    • Practice: Maxym Lysack, "The Jesus Prayer for Beginners"

    • Pokrovsky, The Way of a Pilgrim - 1st Narrative

    • Gregory of Sinai, “Instructions to Hesychasts”

    • Gregory of Palamas, “The Hesychast Method of Prayer, and the Transformation of the Body”

    • Background: John McGuckin, "Gregory Palamas"

  • 7

    Session 6 (Live)

    • Medieval (German, English, & French) Spirituality B: Action and Contemplation

    • Recording - Action & Contemplation and Quietism

    • Slides - Action & Contemplation

    • Bernard McGinn, "Mystical Language in Meister Eckhart"

    • Cloud of Unknowing, chs. 17-21

    • Steven Chase, "Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing."

    • Fenelon, "One Thing Needful"

    • Walter Hilton, "Treatise Written to a Devout Man," chs. 1-7

    • Wolfgang Riehle, "Ch. 8: Walter Hilton, England's Mystic Theologian."

    • Madame Guyon, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

    • Bo Karen Lee, "Madame Jeanne Guyon: A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer."

    • Meister Eckhart, "Sermon 9."

  • 8

    Session 7 (Live)

    • Medieval (Flemish) Spirituality C: Community & Solitude

    • Rob Faesen, "Jan van Ruusbroec - Life and works," Part 1

    • Saskia Murk Jansen, "Hadewijch and the Beguines"

    • Optional: Rob Faesen, "Jan van Ruusbroec - Life and works," Part 2

    • Hadewijch, "Visions."

    • Verle Fraeters, "Hadewijch of Brabant and the Beguine Movement."

    • Ruysbroeck, "The Sparkling Stone"

    • Ruysbroeck, "The Book of Supreme Truth."

    • Arblaster & Faesen, "John of Ruusbroec’s Life and Works."

    • Carolyn Schneider (trans.), "On Love and Self-Control."

    • Gregory of Nyssa, Life of St. Macrina

    • 03 Macrina and Naucratius

  • 9


    • Course Evaluation Form

  • 10

    Assignment Submission

    • Final Assignment Submission

    • Research Review

    • Reflection Paper