Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Markers of Christian Maturity

One of the comments I have in my earlier posting is how do we define spiritual maturity?
St.Paul’s words come to mind, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal.4:19). Interesting, as if St.Paul have experienced childbirth before! However “Christ is formed in you’ is the goal of spiritual formation, discipleship, and Christian education. It is more than bearing the fruit for the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). It is becoming like Christ or bearing the image of Christ in ourselves

To take on the character of Christ is to restore the imago dei inside of us. We distorted the imago dei or the image of God when Adam sinned against God. The noun selem is used in the Old Testament means “something made in the likeness of something else…used for human being created “in the image of God”:…it is a moral and spiritual likeness…The concept may also be relational: men and women have the unique ability to image God to one another as well as to image God back to God.” In the New Testament, the Greek word is the noun eikόn which is used to identify Christ as the perfect representation or likeness of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col.1:15). In kind it is used to refer to the “image” of God in the Christian (1 Cor.11:7), who is being transformed into the perfect “likeness’ of Christ (Rom.8:29; 2 Cor.3:18).”

A fascinating survey comes to mind. The Search Institute in the United States of America conducted an Effective Christian Education Study: A National Study of Protestant Congregations survey in 1989. Its purpose is to examine the effectiveness of congregation based Christian education. The study group states that “the primary aim of congregational life is to nurture-among children, youth, and adults-a vibrant, life-changing faith, the kind of faith that shapes one’s way of being, thinking and acting.” (Benson and Eklin 1990, 9). To do that, they first have to define mature faith, which will be the outcome of the congregational life. They did an open ended survey with several hundreds theology scholars, denomination and local congregation leaders and ended up with “eight core dimensions of faith” which defines a person with mature faith.

These are:
(1) “Trusts in God’s saving grace and believes firmly in the humanity and divinity of Jesus
(2) Experiences a sense of personal well-being, security, and peace
(3) Integrates faith and life, seeing work, family, social relationships, and political choices as part of one’s religious life
(4) Seeks spiritual growth through study, reflection, prayer, and discussion with others
(5) Seeks to be part of a community of believers in which people gives witness to their faith and support and nourish one another
(6) Holds life affirming values, including commitment to racial and gender equality, affirmation of cultural and religious diversity, and a personal sense of responsibility for the welfare of others
(7) Advocates social and global changes to bring about greater social justice
(8) Serves humanity, consistently and passionately, through acts of love and justice”

(Benson and Eklin 1990,10)

These 8 core characteristics are useful markers to measure spiritual maturity.

What do you think?

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Anonymous alwyn said...

small technical issue: how come this post doesn't appear in the main page?

9:48 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi alwyn,

being a non technical person, I have no idea.

Anybody out there can help?

12:01 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

funny thing is that it works now, but is it because blogspot did something or is it because i'm in Swedeon? ;>)

11:11 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

maybe Sweden woke some sense n blogspot :0

Enjoy your conference

4:05 AM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

regarding the "marks", i've always thought that the Sermon on the Mount and the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5) are the key 'badges' of a Jesus-transformed heart. as is 1 Cor 13's love passage, of course. what do u think?

2:52 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

I agree totally with you. What you have mentioned are the marks of maturity. Please note that I use markers of maturity which implies something that is measurable.

6:03 PM  

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