Revisiting the Call to Spiritual Formation
Well, it’s been two years since The Spiritual Formation Alliance gathered people together to write a definition of spiritual formation, available online at the Call to Spiritual Formation site. Has anything happened with it since then? It seems not.
I wasn’t terribly happy with the definition back then, and with nothing changing, I’m not overly happy with it now, so this doesn’t hurt me any. I was just glancing back through the archives here and spotted it, and I wondered what had become of it. Few additional people have signed their agreement to it, including some of those supposedly involved in its creation, and I haven’t caught references to it from the formation community or books (though I’ll admit that I haven’t been reading too much beyond academic mumbo jumbo lately, what with my studies). Google doesn’t even register any links to it. It seems like a project that didn’t actually go anywhere.
As I said, this doesn’t overly rankle me, though it does give evidence of the disparity of the formation ideal. There isn’t a cohesiveness to the interest in spiritual formation. There is no major association or definition that seems to tie things together, and I imagine that’s reflective of the times. People have been struggling for a while to define the Evangelical Church when such a moniker gathers groups from various different denominations while not generally encompassing the whole of any. We know what it is when we see it, but we don’t know how to define it.
There are figureheads and forerunners to the community, like Willard, Foster, and Barton, but they aren’t leaders at the same time. They do not define the path for everyone. I don’t agree with everything that any one of them says, though I appreciate much of their work. The same could surely be said of others like me. The community in some ways really does act like a community move than an organization. That might be a good thing.
There may not be a particular point to my musing here at the moment. Perhaps I’m just voicing my own pondering. The Call to Spiritual Formation seemed to have come and gone. I hope it did good while it was here. Perhaps it stirred some of those involved in writing it to more carefully consider things. Perhaps it stirred others like me to more critically examine our own ideas. God will have used it as He will, but it seems it may not have had the impact or import that the designers intended. Perhaps even for themselves.