Monday, December 22, 2008

Evangelical Anxieties over Spiritual Formation

In the recent issue of Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, 2008, Vol. 1, No. 2, 129–148, there is this interesting article.

Sanctification in a New Key:
Relieving Evangelical Anxieties Over Spiritual Formation
by Steve L. Porter
Rosemead School of Psychology and
Talbot School of Theology (Biola University)

Abstract: This article is meant to be an apologetic for spiritual formation to those within the evangelical tradition who find themselves concerned about its emphases. Eight common objections to spiritual formation are presented with the twofold aim of recognizing any needed corrective and defusing the objection. While more must be said in response to each of these objections, it is hoped that enough will be said here to relieve much of the anxiety surrounding spiritual formation.

The eight general objections to spiritual formation from evangelicals are:
(1) Spiritual formation is just a fad
(2) Spiritual formation is Catholic
(3) Spiritual formation is New Age
(4) Spiritual formation is contrary to the sufficiency of Scripture
(5) What ever happened to old-fashioned obedience?
(6) Spiritual formation encourages works righteousness
(7) Spiritual formation is overly experiential
(8) Spiritual formation neglects mission/evangelism

Steve Porter addresses each one of these objections systematically, showing that Christians especially Evangelicals have nothing to fear from spiritual formation. In fact, spiritual formation as sanctification is very biblical. I am glad that someone has finally written an apologetic for spiritual formation.

In my teaching and researching of spiritual formation, I continually meet the same objections from some pastors and church leaders. Even today, I am on the blacklist of certain pastors and church leaders because of my association with spiritual formation.

Download the article here



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