Sunday, September 20, 2009

Essential Ingredients for Spiritual Growth

Sermon Statement

The essential ingredients for spiritual growth is a correction understanding of the fullness of Christ in us, the old self, the new self, the work of the Holy Spirit and our appropriate response.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on creative visualization.It should be very much helpfull

Karim -
Positive thinking

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Matthew R Green said...

So does this imply than an incorrect understanding of the fullness of Christ in us or the new and old selves will result in no growth? Can God produce growth despite faulty theology? To what extent?

And don't you hate comment spam links? (And why is spam so often riddled with misspellings?)

9:43 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Matthew,

That is a good question. My understanding of spiritual growth (actually I prefer spiritual development)is that it is a (re)discovery that we are already fully developed (i.e. have the fullness of Christ) and is a matter of reworking our understanding and perspective to this new status.

I do not think that spiritual growth is development from a seed, progressively growing into a tree. This is a farm metaphor and does not accurately reflect our inner Christian spiritual life.

This (re)discovery of ourselves; involves theological understanding of the putting on and putting off our old and new selves, and to submit ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit by giving up (submitting) our love for control.

Does spiritual development occurs despite faulty theology? I will gladly answer with a resounding yes! That's the wonder of grace. I believe that many people are able to grasp the concept instinctively. I have met enough people with suddenly changed lives by God to recognise this. Most of these people have no theological background (newly converted Christians, drug addicts, people who have no prior exposure to Christians, mentally impaired, mental illness) but their commonality is a belief in God.

I don't know if you agree with this but spiritual transformation is often affective, rarely cognitive.

I don't get the part about spam :)

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Matthew R Green said...

My comment about spam was in reference to the fact that the first comment on this post is spam - it is not reflective of the content of your post; it is merely a means of getting a link onto your web site. And, as does most spam, it has spelling errors...

There are always flaws in metaphors, but that doesn't negate the usefulness of the metaphor. There definitely is an element of discovering that we are already complete in Christ, but there is also a sense in which we are not (mistaken beliefs, psychological distortions, etc.), and in that sense, the plant metaphor seems to work.

As for spiritual formation being only affective, I disagree. I think it is partially cognitive, partially affective, partially volitional, but primarily something that doesn't exactly have a category. The primary realm of formation is one of belief, which is something that is held beneath the intellect and emotions. Western culture tends to greatly downplay the relevance of emotions, so formation is often strongly affective to counter this imbalance, but a change in what our hearts truly hold as real and true at an experiential and unconscious level is more fundamental, I think.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Matthew,

Metaphors can be very useful if we are aware of its limitations and not put it beyond what is means. The plant metaphors is useful, and I do use it sometimes. Unfortunately, many people perceive the plant metaphor as dogma or a doctrine of spiritual growth. I am not comfortable with this.

We need to differentiate spiritual formation and transformation. Please not that I mention spiritual transformation and not formation. I agree with you that spiritual formation is " partially cognitive, partially affective, partially volitional..." However intellectual and cognitive affirmation do not lead to transformation or we will have lots more 'saintly' theologians. Belief is a form of intellectual affirmation. Neither emotive or spiritual experiences lead to transformation or we will have more 'saintly' charismatic and Pentecostals. Also we cannot will ourselves to transform or our discipleship programs will be very effective. So what then?

May I invite you to read my article Reframing spiritual formation and trasnformation. I am most interested to know your thoughts about it.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Matthew R Green said...

I'll take a gander at your article when I have a moment, but before I do, I submit that true belief is not intellectual. If you check out Romans 10:10, it says that belief is something accomplished by the heart, the center of the person and the originator of thought, emotion, and volition as well as the seat of desire. Infants develop beliefs about their world long before they can intellectualize about it. Thus, belief is something more fundamental than thought. We may have no idea what we actually believe about God, ourselves, and the universe, but we always know what we think. They're quite different faculties.

9:37 PM  

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