Monday, January 26, 2009

Can Anyone Show You the Way?

People are unique. People grow, think, learn, and express these differences in many ways. This is why a democratic form of government is the best for human flourishing! Democracy allows the individual to choose what community, which people and what ideals/values they will affirm, and commit to....

There has been a big flurriy in conservative segments of evangelicalism to "mentor" another in "spiritual formation". What does spiritual formation mean? What is the "end result" desired? Is the "end result" a programmed universal? or is it fine-tuned to the needs of the individual? What is useful for spiritual formation? Is the "mentor" to choose the material, or is it left to the individual? If "spiritual formation" is about "making disciples", then it is a form of bringing about conformity to traditon.

Some groups are goal focused, such as Alcoholics Annonymous, Parenting W/out Partners, or Grief Support. These groups help individual to cope, manage and grow in different ways. There is nothing wrong about these groups, but they are not mandated.

"Spiritual formation" groups are useful in those traditions that believe that there is a universally understood 'goal" to be sought in the discipleship process. These groups hold others accountable to spiritual disciplines, like prayer, bible study, self reflection, or other forms of reading. There is nothing wrong with these groups either, but is the individual free to choose which group s/he will commit to based on interests? or is there a hierarchal "eldership" that determines where the individual "has" to grow and how they are to grow, and therefore, the relationship, and group is determined? I believe that determination is anti-humane, if not immoral, because, the individual must be motivated to change. Al-Anon encourages those who live with alcoholics to not try to change the other, but to change themselves. This is good because it supports the abused, to know how to respond and how to accept. But, "spiritual formation", if understood as a "program" would not understand diversity in decision or choice, as spiritual formation would be forming "christ" in the individual, instead of allowing the individual free discovery and expression. It is a form of spiritual dictatorship. And especially if the major source of authority is Scripture.

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