Spirituality in Ministry
A Shockingly Brief OverviewElizabeth Drescher, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Christian Spiritualities
What is spirituality?
Approaches to Spirituality in Ministry
• Spirituality for ministers of the church• Mystical• Ascetical
• Spiritual instrumentality of ministers of the church• Liturgical• Sacramental• Pastoral
Lex orandi – Lex credendi
• Attributed to the 5th century anti-Pelagian monk Prosper of Aquitaine
• Bonus Question: What was the Pelagian heresy?
Dialectical Christian Praxis
• “The Latin tag, lex orandi, lex credendi…may be construed in two ways. The more usual way makes the rule of prayer the norm for belief: what is prayed indicates what may and must be believed. But from the grammatical point of view it is equally possible to reverse the subject and the predicate and so take the tag as meaning that the rule of faith is the norm for prayer: what must be believed governs what may and should be prayed. The linguistic ambiguity of the Latin tag corresponds to a material interplay which in fact takes place between worship and doctrine in Christian practice: worship influences doctrine, and doctrine worship.”
[Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life. A Systematic Theology (London: Epworth Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980) 218; emphasis added.]
A Contemporary Extension with Spiritual
Implications↕Lex orandi – the law/rule of praying
↕Lex credendi – the law/rule of believing
↕Lex vivendi – the law/rule of living
↕Lex agendi – the law/rule of ethics
Biblical/Theological Grounding of Christian Spiritual Praxis1 Timothy 2:1-10Instructions on Worship1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
NT Roots of Contemporary
Xtn Concepts of ‘Spirituality’
•“To be united to Christ is to enter into the sphere of the spirit (pneuma)” [1 Cor. 6:17]
•“Faith in the Lord is from and in the Spirit” [1 Cor. 2:10f]
With important caveats…
• Latin spiritualitas attempts to translate Greek pneuma;
• Not contrasted with the material or bodily (as with Greek soma; Latin term corpus);
• The soma is, in Paul’s use, an accomplice in sin, but it also is the carrier of redemption; it is neither inherently good nor bad
• The sarx, the human being corrupted in the flesh by sin, does not participate in redemption
• It is contrasted with all that is opposed to the Spirit of God –Greek, sarx; Latin, caro
• The opposition of the pneuma with the soma is at the core of many Gnostic teachings
Some Contemporary Definitions of ‘Spirituality’
• Bernard McGinn: “Christian spirituality is the lived experience of Christian belief in both its general and more specialized forms ... It is possible to distinguish spirituality from doctrine in that it concentrates not on faith itself, but on the reaction that faith arouses in religious consciousness and practice. It can likewise be distinguished from Christian ethics in that it treats not all human actions in their relation to God, but those acts in which the relation to God is immediate and explicit.”
• Sandra Schneiders: “…the experience of consciously striving to integrate one’s life in terms not of isolation and self-absorption but of self-transcendence toward the ultimate value one perceives.”
Some Definitions Proposed by Anglican
Scholars• Urban T. Holmes, III: Spirituality is “(1) a human capacity for
relationships (2) with that which transcends sense phenomena; this relationship (3) is perceived by the subject as and expanded or heightened consciousness independent of the subject’s efforts, is (4) given substance in the historical setting, and (5) exhibits itself in creative action in the world.”
• Arthur Holder: “…the lived experience of Christian faith and discipleship”
• Elizabeth Drescher: “…the concrete forms of Christian practice as they are undertaken personally, in community, and in the world”
• Pierre Bourdieu: Practice is a “dialectic of the opus operatum [the finished work] and the modus operandi [the process of working]; of the objectified products and the incorporated products of historical practice; of structures and habitus.”
• Habitus: “…a system of lasting, transposable dispositions which, integrating past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions and makes possible the achievement of infinitely diversified tasks, thanks to analogical transfers of schemes permitting the solution of similarly shaped problems, thanks to the unceasing corrections of the results obtained, dialectically produced by those results…”
Xtn Spirituality as Incarnational Habitus
• Practice can be understood as “cognitive doing” or “embodied knowing” whereby, in Christian terms, we enact our understanding of fundamental human relatedness with God through the actions of prayer, meditation, contemplation, fasting, worship, witness, service, etc., and these, in turn, institute—structure—our knowledge of God.
• BCP: Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Xtn Spirituality in Relation to Other Religious and Secular
Spiritualities• Understanding spiritualities as “practices” in the more complicated
sense of habitus insists that within every spiritual practice is a theology or ideology that is communicating itself through action, enacting itself in the body, mind, and community of the practitioner
• ‘Woo Woo’ / New Age / Grass Roots spiritualities, e.g., have identifiable ideological groundings:• Eshana: “‘Woo woo’ refers to the commercialized, self-focused
transformational workshopping craze which has become associated with the ‘New Age.’ ‘True woo woo,’ on the other hand, is the use of similar depth/spiritual techniques for the development of psychological and ecological wholeness.” [Eshana (Elizabeth Bragg), “Towards Ecological Self: Deep Ecology Meets Constructionist Self-Theory, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 16, quoted in Christopher Hugh Partridge, The Re-Enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture (New York: Continuum, 2006), 70.]
• Robert K. C. Forman: “Grassroots Spirituality involves a vaguely pantheistic ultimate value that is indwelling, sometimes bodily, as the deepest self and is accessed through not-strictly-rational means of self transformation and group process that becomes the holistic organization for all of life.” [Grassroots Spirituality: What is it? Why is it? And where is it going? (Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic Press, 2004), 51]
What’s up with Woo-Woo and Why does it matter to
Christians?• “The salvation Jesus offered was the same as
Buddha’s: release from suffering and a path to spiritual freedom, joy, closeness to God. In that light, the real Jesus is as available today as he ever was, perhaps more so. Instead of relying on faith alone, we can go beyond worship to find a body of teachings consistent with the world’s wisdom traditions, a corroboration in Christian terms that higher consciousness is real and open to all.”Deepak Chopra, The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore (New York: Harmony Books, 2008), 139.
On Resurrection of the Body of Christ
• “With the resurrection a flesh-and-blood man was transformed into completely divine substance—the Holy Spirit. There is no need, then, to use history to find the real Jesus. Spirituality is about truths that cannot be understood from a strictly rational perspective. Because the Holy Spirit is transcendent, Jesus must be found not on earth, but in the Kingdom of God. He is a fact of the soul, not of archaeology.” [The Third Jesus, 136]
• “Only someone who knows the reality beyond good and evil can know me. I am in all things without division. This Satan wants you to believe that he rules in the place where I am not. But even he is made of God.”
• “Only someone who can see the demons as part of God is free. Good and evil dissolve. The veil drops away, and all you see is divine light—inside, outside, everywhere. The sight of a rotting corpse becomes as blessed as a rainbow. There is no reality but the light, and you are that light. Your soul is the world’s soul. In your resurrection will be the resurrection of the world.”Deepak Chopra, Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 220-221.
Contemporary Spirituality Questions for Ministers
• What questions do woo woo/new age spiritualities pose to Christianity? To Anglicanism?
• What questions do Christianity, in general, and Anglicanism, in particular, pose to woo woo/new age spiritualities?