Contemplating Contemplation

Been teaching on discernment and decision making so thought I would repost this, originally written in March 9, 2010

I have been thinking through spiritual formation as I am currently taking a class on that right now in seminary (or was when originally written). In a prior post I have compared the two views of Foster and Wesley regarding the spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer. Here I hope to examine this mystical side of spiritual formation (SF) from a larger theological perspective.

What is Spiritual Formation?
Before I do that let me back up and define SF. Better yet let me let the main proponents define it. In a CT 2005 article that transcribed an interview with Dallas Willard and Richard Foster SF was defined as follows:

Spiritual formation is character formation. Everyone gets a spiritual formation. It’s like education. Everyone gets an education; it’s just a matter of which one you get.

Spiritual formation in a Christian tradition answers a specific human question: What kind of person am I going to be? It is the process of establishing the character of Christ in the person. That’s all it is. You are taking on the character of Christ in a process of discipleship to him under the direction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It isn’t anything new, because Christians have been in this business forever. They haven’t always called it spiritual formation, but the term itself goes way back.

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The Daily Prophet – a look at guidance and decision making

Decisions. Life is full of them. You are here reading this post but at some point you had to decide whether to click on the link that brought you here. And right now you have to decide whether you will continue reading it.

Most of us find decision making hard. Why is that? There are several reasons that may make a particular decision hard.

  • uncertainty about what the future holds
  • afraid of making a mistake
  • knowing we have to live with the consequences
  • too many choices to choose from
  • we don’t have enough information
  • we have conflicting information
  • we have not analyzed the information we do have
  • your feelings and/or friends are going against what you know you should do

These are just some of the reasons that decision making is hard. So it is not surprising that we would want help in the decision making process. Continue reading