The Crux of Spiritual Formation

Holy CrossMy wife and I read an excerpt from a book arguing against contemplative prayer and spiritual formation (as well as Catholicism and mysticism).  I was hoping to get an idea of where this particular group was coming from and what made them so vehemently opposed to these things, and the majority of it came down to just a couple of points that were expounded upon in numerous different ways.  That being the case, I thought it might be poignant to posit the following notes on spiritual formation.

1. The crux of true, authentic Christian spiritual formation is the crux of all history and all creation.  It is The Crux – that is, the cross.

2. Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, resurrection, and offer of reconciliation is salvific.  Spiritual formation includes more than this, but only this one, foundational aspect provides salvation.  Skip this, and the rest of spiritual formation and sanctification is ultimately meaningless or impossible.

3. Various spiritual practices have indeed led some to abandon the path of orthodox, Biblical, authentic Christianity, and this is a travesty.  However, the historical record demonstrates that the vast majority of those who engaged in such practices firmly rooted in Christ remained not only faithful to their Father and Lord, but devoted to His Word and focused on Him.

4. Not all spiritual practices are equal.  Some are not based in God but upon self or methods or other non Christian influences and aren’t compatible with the faith.  This is not, however, all of them, and thus it requires careful examination, discernment, and prayer to determine their connection to Christ and the Christian faith.

5. Did I mention that abandoning Christ or the cross is the absolute antithesis of real spiritual formation?

6. There are numerous definitions of and practices called contemplative prayer.  One definition does not encompass all ideas about it, and not all definitions or practices are right or good.  Only that which focuses first on God and His work within the soul have any chance of being true to Him.  When encountering contemplative prayer and practice, it is wise to determine the exact nature of what is at hand to determine whether it is faithful to God.

I could say more, but I’d rather not get into fine detail, and I’d also rather not directly argue with the author and group in question lest there be an opportunity to enter into bickering or to respond in anger or fear.  The idea here was simply to put up these points, to ground anything else that I post in orthodox, Biblical Christianity.  Not all religion is true.  Therefore, not all spirituality is true.  But there must be a spirituality that is true because there is a faith that is, and therefore there must be  a way to enact that faith.

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