In this volume of Resonance, we explore the wonder of the spiritual life. “Spiritual formation” is a term often associated with the cultivation of inner spiritual disciplines. There is a deep tradition within Christian history and practice that focuses on this inner formation as a witness to the transformative work of God in the life of the Christian. However, “spiritual formation” also speaks to the wider and more holistic notion of Christian discipleship. The inner personal disciplines are cultivated not in isolation, but through the church-community, and ultimately to train one’s heart to the distinct calling of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual formation, then, is one way of talking about whole-life formation – formation that is for the work and glory of God.
Once again, we are privileged to host a variety of compelling authors and perspectives around our topic. Drew Poppleton takes us back to the beginning, to Genesis 1-3, as he introduces an anthropology that emphasizes relationality over individualism in our quest for spiritual growth and formation. Dana Hallin then recounts her own harrowing journey of learning to surrender to God in the face of deep pain and looming tragedy. Next, Kevin Hall takes us through key New Testament passages to show us how Christian hospitality is a framework for discipleship, and then Jason Koon highlights justice and mercy themes in the Old Testament book of Malachi. I’ve written the Crux article for this issue, reflecting on the nature of hope as an enduring call of our theology and practice of holistic discipleship. Gail Hutchinson then highlights the motifs of pilgrimage and companionship as necessary elements of spiritual formation, particularly for those going through unsettling times of transition or change. Next, Ann Gillian Chu takes us through the nuances of narration and dialogue in Joshua 3 to show how a close reading of Scripture is an essential element for spiritual formation. Donald Minter then weaves a personal tale of engaging with new and old theological conversation partners, where he discovers anew the passion and tools necessary for lifelong formation. Finally, Sean Kiilehua shows us how Trinitarian worship practices ultimately inform and shape our understanding of who God is and, then, we are to be in the world. Throughout these articles a theme emerges: spiritual formation is not just we do; as Christians it is who we are.
It is with this conviction that spiritual formation is integral to the lifelong journey of discipleship that Resonance is excited to include a new feature in our print volumes: For a Better Worldliness Learning Guides can now be found appended to the end of the journal! We have been producing these Learning Guides since Fall 2017 for individuals and small groups to use in conjunction with the journal. We hope by including them as part of the print edition, we can spark additional conversation and dialogue for our readers in their ministry contexts. Previous Learning Guides and journal volumes are accessible for all our members on our website, including those who sign up for a free digital subscription.