So where are you on your spiritual formation journey? Are you just exploring? Are you in process and interested in knowing more? Have you tried it before and became frustrated? Are you serious? Are you willing to put in the time?
Are you sure what it actually means?
A cursory Google search will render multiple ideas on what spiritual formation is and looks like… So I want to express my biases on how this series will proceed… I will approach this topic with a heavy slant from a Wesleyan tradition, as I am Methodist. In addition to that, I also approach my spirituality from a more conservative slant. So as we proceed, agree or disagree with this series or parts of it, because the Wesleyan tradition is big on tolerance. Take what’s useful and feel free to question and explore further what you believe is not.
In this post I will provide a working definition of spiritual formation so that we can all work from the same blueprint. I will approach this in a systematic way through scripture, personal experiences, thoughts from John Wesley in the Wesleyan tradition, and other authors and theologians.
So let’s begin with Wesley’s Quadrilateral…The late, Albert Outler of SMU coined the term” Wesley’s Quadrilateral.” The 4 components of the Quadrilateral consist of, Reason, Experience, Tradition and Scripture. I remember these as “RETS”. In Methodist circles we approach these in this order:
- Scripture – we always go to God’s word first to see what it has to say.
- Tradition – we value the early church traditions that consisted of many councils throughout history that debated Christian doctrines. So we believe that if something has withstood the test of time through these councils, then they should carry some weight. It’s not the end all of end all’s but certainly must be considered.
- and 4. Reason and Experience – We believe that God gave us a mind that we have the ability to reason – think. So we’re open to, “what do you think about this?” We are also big on, “what has been you experience?” Your live experiences also have value.
With that in mind, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 provides a good foundation for what spiritual formation can be:
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 The Voice
17 By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. 18 Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.
As we progress in our journey we’ll consider spiritual formation as the process of becoming more like Christ – lives transformed into something better than the life we started with.
Richard Rohr, in his book Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the The Two Halves of Life, notes that Scott Peck once told him…”…he felt most Western people were just spiritually lazy. And when we’re lazy, we stay on the path we already are.” While studying under Roberta Bondi, at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, she once said, “the hardest part of prayer is just showing up.” which she echoed in her book, To Love as God Loves.
So as we move forward on this journey, know that the hardest part of spiritual formation may be just showing up!
In future posts we’ll be exploring prayer, the spiritual disciplines, monastic asceticism, christian perfection, and so much more! When all is said and done I hope to have given you the tools to help you transform your life into something more like Christ’s life, no matter what spectrum you may be presently on in your journey. Or as scripture states, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.