What is spiritual formation? What makes spiritual formation distinctly Christian in relation to other religious and ideological spiritualities in our world? What dynamics are involved in Christian spiritual formation? This course seeks to address such questions and to be both formational and informational as it does so.
First, students will be guided in developing an appraisal framework that is truly holistic as well as conducive to and compatible with the Christian revelation. This appraisal framework, based on the Formative Spirituality of Adrian van Kaam, will provide students with specific perspectives by which to reflect upon human experiences in order to discern various dynamics of spiritual formation. Second, students will be guided through a survey of classic Christian texts from a variety of Christian traditions throughout history in order to deepen their appreciation for the rich and varied ways, unique and communal, in which people have experienced knowing the Holy Trinity. Third, this course will engage students in several classic spiritual practices throughout the course, including: Scripture reading, reading Christian devotional texts, prayer, journaling, and retreat. Through these and other means, students will nurture their attentiveness to the presence and work of God in their everyday lives, thus complementing the seminary experience of learning “about” God with the experience of growing in their attentiveness to and their love for God.