Yesterday the Center for Christian Spirituality hosted a panel presentation along with a question and answer session on the topic "What is Christian Spirituality?" The Center for Christian Spirituality is housed at St. John's Episcopal Church near downtown Mt. Pleasant. I was asked to be one of the five panelist.
The task was and remains an intriguing one - what is christian spirituality? Each of the panelists approached the question with a different perspective sharing in many ways from the religious traditions from which they came and from personal experiences.
My presentation centered around the holiness movement that helped give shape to the Free Methodist Church. The goal, as Free Methodists would understand it and as I concur with, is that we reach a state of glorification. Those in the eastern church could understand this as deification, or in roman terms, complete union with the trinity.
This has led the holiness churches to at times run from things which could hinder a persons progress toward union with God, and at times to become legalistic. Yet the grace of the Gospel is that as we read Jesus and encounter Jesus, he reminds us that His life is one of grace, and an embracer of life, a healer of the wounded. Thus at the moment we are a community that anticipates the incarnation to be embodied in the church, often a church that is not yet complete, yet remains a work in progress, being made holy by the Lord.
In the past we tended to define Christian Spirituality by what one did not do. Today we often define Christian Spirituality by what one does, or what resources one takes advantage of. Underlying both however is the teleological doctrine of glorification, mystic union with the triune God. We look for it in the future, we long and pant for it now, we receive all we can with thanksgiving, and rejoice in God's great mercy.
What do you think Christian Spirituality is?