Transforming Spirituality

Integrating Theology and Psychology

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


"I've never seen a book quite like this. Shults and Sandage do no less than provide a vision of how the integrative enterprise would be different if psychology and theology were fundamentally relational in nature. Theoretically rigorous and immensely practical. Highly recommended."--Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami

Building on the acclaim of their book The Faces of Forgiveness, winner of the Narramore Award from the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, LeRon Shults and Steven Sandage continue the dialog between theology and psychology with Transforming Spirituality: Integrating Theology and Psychology.
In this collaborative work the authors closely explore the growing academic and cultural interest in spirituality and spiritual transformation. They argue that "we are witnessing a new horizon of converging interest in the intersections between science, religion, and spirituality." Organized in three parts--transforming spirituality in psychology, transforming spirituality in theology, and modeling spiritual transformation--Transforming Spirituality fills a void in the current literature. In turn, its nine chapters discuss spirituality in relation to health, human development, the biblical tradition, philosophy, and the natural sciences. 


Not only does this work examine the positive aspects of spiritual experience, but it also discusses negative phases in spiritual development, such as the reality of suffering and the "dark night of the soul." The book concludes with case studies that model and illustrate how to apply the authors' interdisciplinary approach. Transforming Spirituality is essential for classes in psychology, human development, theology, pastoral counseling, and spiritual formation at the undergraduate and graduate levels.     


"We are spiritual beings attempting to become mature, healthy, and whole human beings. Why is this so difficult and how do both theology and psychology assist us in this process? Shults and Sandage provide the answer by integrating reforming theology with transforming spirituality in a stunning interdisciplinary project that will immediately become the lodestar for a whole new generation of integrative studies. We have already seen the turn to relationality in philosophical anthropology as well as in interpersonal psychology. We are relational beings created in the divine image. Taking seriously the darker side of human spirituality as the sin that isolates and alienates us from the grace of divine presence and healthy human relationships, the authors describe and demonstrate a transforming spirituality that is biblically sound and therapeutically effective. Hurting humanity, wounded in spirit, needs pastors, counselors, and therapists who are equipped to understand the deep spiritual dimensions of that hurt and to become agents of transformation, change, and growth. This is the book that I should have read twenty years ago and should have had my students who were preparing to be pastors and therapists read. Here it is. Read it!"--Ray S. Anderson, formerly senior professor of theology and ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Transforming Spirituality takes the recent discussion of spirituality to an entirely new level. Theological depth and interdisciplinary sophistication combine in a book deeply committed to the church. An outstanding contribution."--Richard R. Osmer, Thomas W. Synnott Professor of Christian Education, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Persons who work across the disciplines of theology and the social sciences will find this book crucial to their own research, teaching, and writing. Those who do not will find themselves challenged to venture out for a new view. This is what theology can look like when it does not lose its own way and when it is enlivened and deepened with insights from the social sciences!"--Janet Ramsey, professor emeritus of pastoral theology and ministry, Luther Seminary

"I've never seen a book quite like this. It brings together careful scholarship, theological sophistication, and a familiarity with the suffering and setbacks of real people in real relationships. Each time I turned the page, I found something new and surprising to catch my attention. Shults and Sandage do no less than provide a vision of how the integrative enterprise would be different if psychology and theology were fundamentally relational in nature. Theoretically rigorous and immensely practical. This is a book for grown-ups. Highly recommended."--Michael E. McCullough, professor of psychology, University of Miami

"As I consider what I've read over my professional career, I cannot contemplate a more important and transformative book. Its depth, expanse, and engagement with subjects as diverse as Orthodoxy, Reformed theology, apophatic mysticism, psychodynamic interpersonal depth psychologies, sex therapy, quantum physics, and the sorrow, desire, and joy of being human are a breathtaking glory of imagination. This is the gift of two passionate authors, whose labor is really a doxology, an encounter with the Spirit, that will animate wonder and prompt countless conversations. We may finally have the starting point for articulating a truly believing, postmodern spirituality."--Dan B. Allender, profssor of counseling, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology; author, The Wounded Heart, To Be Told, and Leading with a Limp

The Authors

  1. F. LeRon Shults

    F. LeRon Shults

    F. LeRon Shults (PhD, Princeton University; PhD, Walden University) is professor of theology at Agder University in Kristiansand, Norway, and the author of several books, including Reforming the Doctrine of God and Reforming Theological...

    Continue reading about F. LeRon Shults

  2. Steven J. Sandage

    Steven J. Sandage

    Steven J. Sandage (PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University), a licensed psychologist, is the Albert and Jessie Danielsen Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Theology at Boston University and director of the Danielsen Research Center at the Danielsen Institute....

    Continue reading about Steven J. Sandage


"The only constant in human life is change, or so it seems. [The authors] . . . have addressed this issue using a deep and practical approach that combines insights from both Christian theology and psychology. Although erudite and thoroughly researched, the book is not intended as a theoretical treatise. Rather, the authors hope to provide practical models based on solid philosophical, theological, and psychological foundations that will help readers understand and experience in the relations of their everyday lives the redemptive and transformational power of spirituality. . . . The book is effectively written and argued and is intended for a broad general audience, but its use of technical language and its extensive background theoretical discussion limit its appeal to other professionals, academics, graduate students, and very well-informed members of the general public. Recommended for academic libraries and for large public libraries with a comprehensive religion collection."--Charlie Murray, Library Journal

"Transforming Spirituality is an important contribution to the growing literature on psychology, psychotherapy, and spirituality. Its most remarkable feature is its conversational method, in which a theologian and a psychologist/psychotherapist engage in ongoing and extended cross-disciplinary work. This conversational method allows each scholar to speak out of the richness of his discipline, and his unique location within that discipline. . . . Shults and Sandage demonstrate how to engage in a cross-disciplinary conversation with an awareness of the particularity of their perspectives and an appreciation for the complexity of their subject matter."--Carrie Doehring, PsycCRITIQUES

"[This book] adds considerable depth to the understanding and interpretation of spirituality and spiritual maturity."--David O. Moberg, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

"[The authors] skillfully demonstrate that truth can be discovered when different disciplines address each other's worlds. . . . [They] write with passion, liveliness, theological insight, psychological discernment, and interdisciplinary sophistication. . . . A diverse group of readers will find Transforming Spirituality challenging and meaningful. Practical theologians interested in issues of method will have to engage this postmodern and postfoundational approach to their discipline. Christian clinicians, therapists, and those interested in matters of spirit and psyche will receive a pneumatological anthropology and clinical approach that integrates theology and psychology. Also, Christians who are trying to discern what it means to be a Christian in today's world will discover a model of spiritual maturity and the good life. . . . Shults and Sandage have provided an important resource and vision. Transforming Spirituality is a crucible of sorts, a container strong enough to withstand immense pressure as it transforms raw materials into a qualitatively different substance."--Jaco J. Hamman, Interpretation

"This work makes important contributions to the fields of social science, spirituality, and Christian theology, which always and already interpenetrate one another, and also to the field of interdisciplinary studies, which seeks to thematize this mutual interpenetration. It is thoroughly grounded in what Shults refers to as the philosophical re-turn to relationality, and thus avoids some problematic anthropological and theological formulations that hinder Christians from understanding the dialectical dynamics of transforming spirituality. It brilliantly serves the purposes for which it was written."--James R. Wilson, Pneuma

"Shults and Sandage have collaborated to articulate and demonstrate a model and method for integrating theology and psychology that keeps pace with changing times while honoring timeless wisdom. . . . Their method and model is a step out and beyond other approaches to integration that are from within a single disciple or a commentary across or between two disciplines. . . . Shults and Sandage have undertaken a considerable, but immensely worthwhile, endeavor to articulate and model a relational integration of theology and psychology that favors spirituality that is both transformed and transforming. They have utilized their own relationship as a resource for modeling what interdisciplinary dialogue looks like and the fruit that such meaningful engagement yields. Rather than relying on 'borrowed functioning' from one another with respect to their discipline, they have each taken ownership of knowing and studying the other's field to enrich and deepen themselves and what they bring to the conversation and to the field. This effort shows in the particular richness I found in reading the parts of the book on which they actively collaborated. . . . Transforming Spirituality is as the authors intended more than just putting new wine in old wineskins. . . . Shults and Sandage offer us a new wineskin in which to pour the new wine, which is from the harvested fruit of deep engagement with one another and the personal transformation they themselves have experienced which was obviously necessary for, and evident in, their offering this cup of communion to us. Let us drink from the cup together and share this new wine with those we teach, counsel, and shepherd."--Theresa C. Tisdale, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care

"An integrative, interdisciplinary, and theoretical description of the nature of spiritual transformation. . . . Transforming Spirituality is obviously a noteworthy achievement, modeling one way in which theology can be put into dialogue with social science. . . . Christian psychologists will be enriched by the theological discussion, and systematic theologians will be served food for theological thought. And, of course, the book is a timely contribution as discussions about spiritual formation are increasing. This book is a must for those researching spirituality, but pastoral theologians, ministers, church leaders, and Christian counselors, as well as seminarians who will soon no longer have the luxury of simply thinking about cultivating spirituality in the church, will be aided by the thoughts of Shults and Sandage."--James R. A. Merrick, Trinity Journal