Spiritual Formation

The spiritual formation movement is spreading rapidly throughout the Christian community. The concept of being formed spiritually is not wrong in itself, but many practices that accompany the movement miss the mark. Often, mystic rituals do not glorify the true God but can instead lead us into dangerous spritualism.

What is Spiritual Formation?

As Roger Oakland writes in his book Faith Undone, the term spiritual formation “suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate him. Thus the idea that if you do certain practices, you can be more like Jesus” (emphasis in original).

Getting close to God and becoming more like Him are wonderful, Biblical goals (See Psalm 73:28 and Philippians 3:8-11). However, we must carefully choose the right means by which we seek a relationship with God. Oakland continues, “Rather than having an indwelling of the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, spiritual formation through spiritual disciplines supposedly transforms the seeker by entering an altered realm of consciousness.”i

Lighthouse Trails calls spiritual formation a “channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church.”ii

Spiritual formation, then, can be seen as a way of seeking a relationship with God and a transformed inner self through the practice of spiritual—and often mystical—disciplines. Unfortunately, many earnest Christians and Christian leaders are entering into a spiritualistic lifestyle without even realizing it. Their desire to draw near to God is leading them to mystic and even occult rituals hidden among godly practices.

The following articles focus on aspects of the spiritual formation movement that we need to be wary of. Learn the definition and dangers of particular disciplines, see how these practices are infiltrating 21st-century Christianity, and rediscover healthy and Biblical ways to live in God's Spirit, which is "of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). 

i. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Oregon: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007): 90.

ii. "Exposing Contemplative Christianity," Lighthouse Trails Research Project: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com.

Ahead to  Lectio Divina