Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Types of Christian Spirituality...

It is easy to think and to limit ourselves to a single approach to Christian spirituality. A 'if it works for me it should work for you approach' tends to narrow our appreciation of other ways which actually impoverishes our experience of spirituality.

Urban T. Holmes has developed a means of exploring spirituality and helps develop an appreciation through discovering links between spirituality, temperament and predisposition.

The diagram illustrates his ideas together with potential inherent dangers. The vertical continuum speaks and helps us understand our relational orientation to God. This ranges from engaging with God through understanding and theological process to a more emotive response.

Horizontally speaks of a persons preferred means of pursuing the spiritual life. Kataphtic speaks of affirmation and the need of something tangible in an individuals spirituality- this may take the form of worship, art, even imagination with the use of metaphors, symbols and images playing a central role. Apophatic sees a more emptying approach to prayer and spirituality embracing more of the mystery of God where God's hiddenness is emphasised. Clearly, no one is one extreme exclusive to any other as we are a complex composite. What is releasing is that we are different, it is worth trying to understand that difference.

Boa points out the potential dangers of extreme to look out in each quadrant:
  • Quietism - where at extreme it is possible to be excessively introspect to the exclusion of the world;
  • Rationalism - reflecting an approach to spirituality that could be overly dogmatic, stressing logic to the exclusion of mystery;
  • Pietism - characterised by an extremity of emotionalism, experientalism and anti-intellectualism;
  • Moralism - with mindset of cultural condemnation and an emphasis on action over being.
Boa, K. D. (2001). Conformed to His Image. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

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