Monday, March 27, 2006

Isn't that an oxymoron?

Many would agree with T. Hartley Hall of Union Seminary that reformed spirituality is an oxymoron. It is certainly true that people of reformed faith have historically been very suspicious of any sort of individual spirituality. In his book Reformed Spirituality, Howard Rice says that we are reluctant to even talk about our experience of God. But since we are all called into relationship with God, I think we of the reformed persuasion still have a responsibility to provide seekers with tools to enhance their walk with God. So one of my major goals in ministry is to provide my congregation with meaningful information on spirituality which is grounded in the Reformed Theological tradition reflecting our belief that we are called to participate in the ministry of Christ and that through His incarnation, life and ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension in the flesh, Christ invites us into the very life of the Trinity.

The problem with spirituality

Spirituality is a word that has come to mean all things to all people. But by spirituality, I mean the experience of relationship with God through interraction with God's Spirit in our lives. The whole testament of the Bible and all of the history of God's interraction in our world demonstrates God's desire to be in relationship with us, both personally and in community. Although I agree with the need for community and share some of the traditional suspicion of individual spirituality which has ever been a part of our tradition, I think the reason why Presbyterians are often called "the frozen chosen" is that we have neglected for too long the personal aspects of relationship with God. God really wants to be in relationship with us. Indeed, though the cross has a multitude of meanings, it is quite clearly an indication of the immensity of God's love and God's desire to relate to us, regardless of the cost.

In Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, Eugene Peterson defines spirituality as simply "the Christian life." He also says that if our life is truly in Christ and our ministry is a participation in the ministry of Christ, then the goal of spirituality has to be looking around to see what God is doing through Christ in the world, and then getting in on what God is doing.

That, I believe, is the essence of Reformed Spirituality. And, in addition to Word proclaimed in community, sharing the sacraments, prayer, and assembling together to offer praise to God, I believe there is a place in Reformed spirituality for listening to God and looking for what God is doing through the use of classical spiritual disciplines.

Well, the ceiling of the church didn't cave in and I haven't been struck by lightning so maybe I can proceed with that project.

I'll keep you posted.


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