Toward an Analytic Account of Christian Formation
Keywords:Spiritual Formation, Christianity, Individualism, Trinitarian Personhood, Worship, Ecclesiology
The Christian life is not static, but marks an expected, if often unspecified, trajectory of growth into maturity. The study of these practices that encourage growth is often called “Spiritual Formation,” and yet a survey of recent literature in the field reveals no real consensus regarding the definition for this process or its objectives. This essay will attempt to bring clarity to the practice of Christian formation through an analysis of the concept of formation, three key scriptural warrants, the role of the Church in its execution, and especially to the telos of formation. While typical accounts of Christian formation point to a vision for “Christlikeness” as the telos of its practices, in this essay I will argue that a more fundamental grounding—based on the nature of worship—should be located in the Triune Imago Dei. A given doctrine of God tacitly forms the ecclesiological environment in which a given Christian is being formed—or mal-formed.
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