Sunday, March 21, 2010

Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 3/6

However, there is something to be said for casting a critical eye across a mode of spiritual formation that centres upon looking for change only within deeply stirred emotions.

Wilhoit suggests that The Emotional model says we are changed most when our spiritual experiences are shaped by that of what is assumed to be deeply emotional.

My generation of Salvationist will remember music or youth camps where we geared ourselves for the Thursday emotional devotional, where as young teenagers, confronted with all that was wrong in our lives, we got caught up in, what I am sure Richard Dawkins would call, induced mass hysteria! I actually look back at those experiences and can not dismiss them, for their significance remain with me even today in my faith journey. However, there is something to be said for casting a critical eye across a mode of spiritual formation that centres upon looking for change, only within deeply stirred emotions.

A model of spiritual formation that depends on feel good emotions, where growth is measured by an emotional state that is always positive, is paper thin when it comes to supporting people through dark nights, desert experiences or hitting the wall in the maturing our faith. The emotional model of spiritual formation that is exposed by descriptions of worship that centre on personal preference, rather than alignment with God's way, is often reduced to being measured by the strange concept of 'God turning or not turning up!' Being blessed, usually equating with I have got my own way!!!

I don't think that Thomas Merton got to the place of understanding where he realised that 'the desert is ... the logical dwelling place for the man who seeks to be ... dependent upon no one but God', through a series of 'real' worship emotional highs ... I could be wrong!

Wilhoit, J.C (2008:51ff) Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Baker

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