For some, the essence of the Christian life is the practice of spiritual disciplines. It’s a kind of machine-like approach to the Christian life: get your life enmeshed in the disciplines and spirituality will be the product. I exaggerate. But few will doubt that many focus spirituality on disciplines nor that the focus on spiritual disciplines — like solitude, fasting, etc — has arisen dramatically in the last twenty five years or so.
If we address this topic from a biblical perspective, we might be surprised:
[BTW: If you want to see the whole thread of comments, double click on the “comments.”]
To begin with, the focus in the Bible is almost never on “my” personal, spiritual development and spiritual formation. No one seems to be much concerned with this question: “Where am I in my personal developing relationship with God?” Or with this one: “Where is my inner self today?”
Let’s think together today on how Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John would understand spiritual disciplines and how they would understand the essence of spirituality. How did Jesus frame life? (Would he call it the “spiritual” life?) How did Paul frame the Christian life? How did James frame the Christian life? (Would he call it “Christian”?) How did John frame the Christian life? Do any of these discuss the spiritual benefits of spiritual disciplines? (Like prayer, fasting, solitude…)
This post was provoked by a new resource I will be dipping into on this blog:
Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality, The (Brazos Introduction) by Evan B. Howard. This is one of the most complete textbooks I’ve ever seen on Spirituality: introduction, human experience, God, Christian experience, divine-human relationship, Christian transformation, Christian spiritual formation, prayer, care, discernment, and the renewal of Christian spirituality … with lots of notes and bibliography at the back. A publishing coup.