Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LeRon Shults' Relationality

I am studying the works of Reformed theologian LeRon Shults, Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Agder University in Norway. I will share more in this blog later. I find Shults' writings interesting because he develops relationality as the basis of much of his thinking or conceptual space. Relationality or relationship is also the basis of a spiritual formation theology I am developing.

Schults have his own blog and for a starter read this delightful blog entry

The term "purgation" refers to the first of the classical "three ways" of spiritual formation. In the traditional understanding, this phase is followed by "illumination" and "union." In our book on Transforming Spirituality, Steve and I argue that the linear understanding of this process and some of the psychological assumptions behind this model ought to be refigured but that is not so important for understanding the experience itself.

Purgation often evokes the imagery of cleansing or purification, for example by fire. This image can be helpful but we should avoid the way in which the metaphor leads us to think of the soul as a substance that is "stained" or has bad "stuff" in it.

If we think of human personhood in relational terms, then purgation has to do with the transformation of the way in which we hold onto and are held by our relations to other finite things. These relations constitute us, and spiritual transformation involves coming to be related to God in such a way that all other relations no longer threaten or seduce us... allowing us to relate to them peacefully and joyfully.

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