Monday, May 10, 2010

A Unified Definition of Spiritual Formation???

Each event in our lives, everything we experience, provides a point of change. For good or bad, our spirits transform each and every day. A paraphrase of C.S. Lewis: "Each day we are becoming either a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror."
A part of the conversation now taking place on the fringes of the established church centers on spiritual formation. For decades if not centuries, spiritual formation has been neglected by most of the Protestant wing of the Church. An unhealthy focus on a bad interpretation of "faith without works" has caused much of the problem.
Spiritual formation is not something to be shunned by falsely depicting it as a means to work for salvation. To the contrary, disciplines involved in the pursuit of positive spiritual formation are means of grace. Without God, they would be meaningless, but by grace, we partner with God in the transformation of our very selves. [THEOOZE]

What Is Spiritual Formation?
Spiritual formation is the activity of the Holy Spirit
which molds our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
This likeness is one of deep intimacy with God
and genuine compassion for all of creation.
The Spirit works not only in the lives of individuals
but also in the church, shaping it into the Body of Christ.
We cooperate with this work of the Spirit
through practices that make us more open
and responsive to the Spirit’s touch,
disciplines such as sabbath keeping, works of compassion and justice, discernment,
worship, hospitality, spiritual friendships, and contemplative silence.
—definition of the Office of Spiritual Formation, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Spiritual Practices and Disciplines
“The practices and disciplines are means of grace, not tasks to accomplish or instructions to
follow in order to grow in the life of faith. To do the latter would be to engage in the practices “according to the flesh” rather than “in the Spirit.” Instead, these practices and disciplines are gifts to the community, by means of which God may use the community to establish and sustain all people in the new life given in the Spirit.” “...our basic task is not mastery and control. It is instead trust and grateful receptivity.” “The practices of faith are not ultimately our own practices but rather habitations of the Spirit, in the midst of which we are invited to participate in the practices of God.”
Craig Dykstra, Growing in the Life of Faith: Education and Christian Practices.
Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 1999.

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