"Spiritual Formation"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by FlyForFun, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    How many of you have encountered or participated in various "Spiritual formation" events, seminars, classes, etc?

    To clarify: "Spiritual formation" refers to "...spiritual practices that will sustain them on their journey -- practices like sharing faith journeys, lectio divina ("sacred reading"), breath prayer, holy listening, daily examen (a spiritual self-assessment), and simple journaling."
     
  2. kyredneck

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    I have not heard of these things until coming to this site.

    Question: where do these have their roots? It sounds like something from monasticism to me.
     
  3. FlyForFun

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    It is -- it started with Thomas Keating's search to "recover ancient christian practices."

    See: Keating's book
     
  4. kyredneck

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    Thanks. That is a whole lot like eastern mysticism.
     
  5. FlyForFun

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    It sure is, and it's racing like a cancer through the church.

    Beware.
     
  6. kyredneck

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    Probably showing my ignorance, but are there similarities between eastern mysticism or this spiritual formation and gnosticism?
     
  7. FlyForFun

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    I'm not familar with spiritual formation in gnosticism, but the dualistic nature of most of these writings "Center on your spirit, ignore your thoughts and your body" sure seems gnostic.
     
  8. kyredneck

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    I wouldn't be surprised if gnosticism were to 'raise it's ugly head again', and this may be some form of it. There's nothing new under the sun, what has been will be.
     
  9. webdog

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    Unfortunately, new age is creeping into the churches at an alarming pace. Our church (to my dismay and non support) has implemented the whole RCC's Cursillo (koinonia) movement into the adults and teen ministries. I have shared my concerns with the elders to no avail.
     
  10. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    Funny how when you give something a Latin name it always seems more substantive and important: lection divina, examen.

    Seminaries are talking more and more about spiritual formation, but I do not have data on whether these mystical techniques are involved.
     
  11. FlyForFun

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    Our relatively new pastor's wife has been pushing this stuff after they got established here. I've raised concerns several times (I'm vice chair of deaconate) but I'm just a malcontent.

    It's a shame, but we're essentially being driven out of our church. I can't condone, support, pay for, participate in any of it.

    In the past year we "celebrated Lent" by "giving up something", had a "tenebre" service on Good Friday, had classes on breath prayer, centering prayer, examen, etc, and a "devotional" series using the writings of Henri Nouwen.

    When Evelyn Underhill came up in a class I mentioned that she was a mystic, who believed in universalism and was far from the gospel. The reply?

    "I read and studied Evelyn Underhill in seminary to great profit."

    Oh. My. Lord.
     
  12. Tom Butler

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    Being and old Baptist fogey, I generally look suspiciously on new religious terms. So I'm naturally skeptical when I hear such terms as "spiritual formation," "incarnationally," and "missiologically (or missionally).

    I understand terms like "being authentic," or "come alongside" someone. They may be perfectly okay. But I don't think I'm going to incorporate them into my vocabulary.

    Sometimes I think it's just language that young whippersnappers have developed to keep us geezers guessing as to what they're talking about.

    It sorta reminds me of something my granddaughter typed on the computer while chatting online. GPLOS. It means Grandparent Looking Over Shoulder.

    Aah well, maybe it's just me, being old and out of touch, and naturally suspicious of new stuff.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    Spiritual formation often includes the Eastern Mystical practices of prayer or contemplative prayer.
     
  14. FlyForFun

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    You're exactly right -- it's intentional obfuscation of language in order to slip in less palatable "new" doctrines.

    "Hath God said...?"
     
  15. Thinkingstuff

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    I've never heard of this either. Spiritual formation? Huh. I think we should share our faith (as a faithful matter to the great commision). Lectio Divina I know because my Father, brothers, and sister are Catholic and its just reading with an aspect of repeating and meditation. I've never heard of breath prayer. I think we should all make a practice of listening to God. I think we should daily examine ourselves and stive to be more Christike. And journaling, though not a requirement, is a good idea unless you're a sordid politician.

    I think its encumbant on the Christian to study the scritpures, have a prayer life, and always be ready to answer for the hope that is within you. This Matures the christian. So this techinical term "spiritual Formation" what does it really mean? Because you can negatively spiritually form youself as well.
     
  16. FlyForFun

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    ...and that's the danger inherent in this stuff.

    It "sounds" about right -- "Who can be against more spiritual walk?"

    But a little research will reveal the univeralist, gnostic, eastern foundations. The other danger is the emphasis on the "Saints" of Rome -- Teresa of Avila, the Desert Fathers, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, et al.
     
  17. Thinkingstuff

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    Any meditation that is not on the scriptures leads to the possibility of leading someone astray. Before long experiences become more reliable to the person than the scriptures themselves. I would stay away from this type of thing.
     
  18. FlyForFun

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    I tried sounding the alarm, but it's pointless.

    Churches with low Biblical literacy will fall for this stuff, as there is very little discernment.

    "It's spiritual! [Big Celebrity Christian] said it's good!"
     
  19. preachinjesus

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    The seminary I attended required first year students to attend spiritual formation classes. It was okay, mostly an odd group of random people stuck together who were forced into spiritually intimate conversations that none of us were comfortable with...didn't work so well.

    I'll echo the thought that just by giving something a Latin name doesn't mean its either bad or mystic...frankly I have alot of respect for some Christian mystics like Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, Anselm, Brother Lawrence, Blaise Pascal just to name a couple.

    Also, for the past several years I've been following the daily lectionary in my daily devotions. Is that bad? I don't think so. I've grown tremendously. I thoroughly enjoy reading others faith journeys, taking time to practice the discipline of solitude on a long walk through nature, and I do practice a daily examen and journalling. During a particularly dry time in my life spiritually several years ago I followed a daily office of intentional prayer four times a day. It was deeply meaningful and brought me through a dry valley.

    Am I evil? I don't think so. My walk with Christ is deep and meaningful. Why are these practices bad? Maybe just misunderstood.
     
  20. Marcia

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    Mysticism always undermines doctrine because it places experience above objective truth. The usual definition of mysticism is union with God with no intermediaries. The medieval monks had 3 levels to go through to find union with God (see "The Cloud of Unknowing" which I've read). It is esoteric garbage.

    Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton and others who have influenced this modern mystical movement believed in meditating with Buddhists and Hindus and thought the Buddhists and Hindus had spiritual insight and wisdom. Keating says the goal is to be with God in the state where subject and object disappear. IOW, there is no distinction between you and God. This is not Christianity - it is an Eastern religious worldview.

    I have an article on it here:
    http://christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html
     

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