Friday, September 10, 2010

On Christian Spirituality and Spiritual Formation

I've been the silent, mysterious presence on this blog for far too long.

That is to change.

What can dear readers expect in the coming weeks?

I currently have: a computer desktop filled with a semester's worth of articles on spiritual formation, a Harley-riding, Orthodox priest professor teaching my course on Christian spirituality (and leading my spiritual formation group), a growing interest in Christian mysticism and spirituality, plans to attend an Orthodox church on Sunday, and a desire to walk in deeper intimacy with the Lord.

That means I will soon be posting on the above topics (or topic, depending on how one looks at it).

But, for now, I wanted to simply share:

"Christian spirituality concerns the quest for a fulfilled and authentic Christian existence, involving the bringing together of the fundamental ideas of Christianity and the whole experience of living on the basis of and within the scope of the Christian faith."
-Alister E. McGrath

It goes without saying that "spirituality" is difficult to define, and that it is a word and practice received both well and poorly among Christian circles.

Alister E. McGrath argues that "it is possible to be a theologian without any experience of God."  To know God in one's head is different than knowing God in one's heart.

While Christian spirituality may be difficult to define, and may carry a host of negative connotations, it can also be argued that Christian spirituality is about: knowing God rather than simply knowing about Him; experiencing God fully; being transformed, sanctified, and renewed.  Given this broad definition, I believe that spiritual formation is necessary to every believer.

Experiences of God and the presence of His Spirit do not have to counter or contest biblical truth.  Yes, fanaticism and theologically-ill-informed experiences do exist, but I believe there is a robust theology in support of spirituality--and that spirituality doesn't have to be void of biblical grounding.

What are the thoughts of those currently reading this?  Were the Christian mystics on to something that our generation is just now rediscovering?

I'm excited to see what this journey will bring...


soma said...

Yes, God is within each one of us so opening our consciousness to the unity of God's pure spiritual consciousness in Christian Mysticism reveals God in the condition of love, which is a kind of spiritual and physical unity.

Lvka said...

Mind, heart, and body have to be connected. -- that's the trouble with Western compartmentalization: it may help make better products, but it won't help make better people.

Lvka said...

The union of mind and heart in prayer, and spirituality is never divorced from virtuous life (in the body):

Timothy said...

The mystics (it seems to me) were deeply focused on the presence of God or the experience of Christ and perhaps that is something that spiritual persons in each generation discover and call the rest of us to experience.

Your blog seems to have taken an interesting turn. If you and your class are working on a manuscript, then I would be eager to speak with you.
Timothy Staveteig, Publisher