Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.
Dallas Willard Comments on Spiritual Formation
“The more advanced they are in the process of spiritual formation, the greater and more pervasive will be their spirituality.”
“[F]rom the viewpoint of those responsible to lead in Christ’s program of making students from all ethnic groupings, immersing them in the reality of the triune name, and teaching them to do all things he has commanded us (Matt. 28:19-28), Christian spiritual formation is simply indispensable.”—from Idaho Springs Inquiries Concerning Spiritual Formation
“Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That’s essential. We can’t evade it–formation by the Holy Spirit. But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. None without the Holy Spirit. But there’s always more involved. And here again we run into the problems of passivity over against activity. Here lies the deepest challenge to the very idea obedience to Christ in our times. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake …There has to be method.” from Spiritual Formation, What is it and How is it Done? by Dallas Willard
Rick Warren on Spiritual Formation
“From time to time God has raised up a parachurch movement to reemphasize a neglected purpose of the church… The Discipleship. Spiritual Formation Movement. A reemphasis on developing believers to full maturity has been the focus … authors such as … Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have underscored the importance of building up Christians and establishing personal spiritual disciplines…. [this] movement has a valid message for the church…[it] has given the body a wake-up call. —Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 126.
Calvinists and Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism?
First of all, what is Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)? According to Ken Silva, a former Roman Catholic, CSM is “nothing more than refried Roman Catholic mysticism with its pietism and asceticism romanticized for those who are ignorant of Church history”! I want to say that this is important, CSM is “counter-Reformational”. Remember the five solas of the Reformation: “by Christ alone”, “by grace alone”, “by faith alone”, “by scripture alone”, “Glory to God alone”? CSM is not in keeping with “scripture alone” in that it promotes subjectivity and “experiences”. Buzz words for CSM: spiritual formation, centering prayer, spiritual disciplines, the silence, lectio divina, breath prayer, labyrinths, etc. So when I hear that Calvinists are practicing CSM I am baffled. Ultimately, CSM promotes the abandonment of the four other solas, in that the “practitioner” takes their focus off of Christ while they become focused on themselves, or become “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2). Christians are called to be Christ’s and to holiness. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace through His ordained means, the the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the gospel is about Christ and what He has done on our behalf. Jesus Christ became man and dwelt among us, lived a sinless life, and died an agonizing death on the cross at Calvary atoning for and taking on the penalty of our sins as our substitute, He was buried and on the third day rose again, and is now at the right hand of God the Father, and Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And not only are we saved by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone, we are also sanctified through the preaching of the gospel. We must not add on to that by doing works that purportedly bring us closer to God and have not been prescribed by God Himself.