Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dallas Willard - spiritual formation is not optional

Here's a foundational statement from Chapter 1 of Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ: a book every disciple of Jesus—regardless of your tradition or denomination—would benefit from. I'll be sharing more from this revolutionary book. I have to give a shout out to Team Carlson (you know who you are) for giving me the nudge to read DW for myself.

Dallas Willard:

[...] Spiritual formation, without regard to any specifically religious context or tradition, is the process by which the human spirit or will is given a definite "form" or character. It is a process that happens to everyone. The most despicable as well as the most admirable of persons have had a spiritual formation. Terrorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation. Their spirits or hearts have been formed. Period.

We each become a certain kind of person in the depths of our being, gaining a specific type of character. And that is the outcome of a process of spiritual formation as understood in general human terms that apply to everyone, whether they want it or not. Fortunate or blessed are those who are able to find or are given a path of life that will form their spirit and inner world in a way that is truly strong and good and directed Godward.

The shaping and reshaping of the inner life is, accordingly, a problem that has been around as long as humanity itself; and the earliest records of human thought bear eloquent witness to the human struggle to solve it—but with very limited success, one would have to say.

True, some points in human history have shown more success in the elevation of the human spirit than others. But the low points far exceed the high points, and the average is discouragingly low. Societies the world around are currently in desperate straits trying to produce people who are merely capable of coping with their life on earth in a nondestructive manner. This is as true of North America and Europe as it is of the rest of the world, though the struggle takes superficially different forms in various areas. In spiritual matters there really is no "Third World." It's all Third World.

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