Monday, June 4, 2012

Incarnational Spirituality

I'm posting from a retreat center in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, where I'm sharing in the leadership of a retreat for ten Master of Divinity students at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity with a focus on "Incarnational Spirituality." In three plenary lectures and associated small group dialogue sessions, I'm advancing an eightfold thesis regarding the nature of early Christian spirituality (ca. A.D. 100-500) and its retrieval in the service of the church's task of spiritual formation today--namely, early Christian spirituality was:

  • A spirituality for everyone (in the sense of the catechetical/liturgical spirituality in which all Christians were formed rather than a monastic spirituality for spiritual elites, though the two expressions of early Christian spirituality are interrelated)
  • A doctrinal spirituality
  • An embodied spirituality
  • A sacramental spirituality
  • A Scripture-steeped spirituality
  • A Psalter-shaped spirituality
  • A narrative spirituality
  • A cruciform spirituality
These eight dimensions of early Christian spirituality belonged to its essence and are essential to a vital spirituality today.

Half the students participating in the retreat will be continuing in a Readings in Spiritual Classics course with me during the remainder of the summer term. In that course students will apply the thesis outlined above to their reading of selected primary texts that include the Catechetical Lectures and Mystagogical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom's homilies on wealth and poverty and on marriage and family life, and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (and Mothers).

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