Saturday, February 11, 2012

Homo Unius Libri

I have just come to a new understanding of a phrase I've been hearing and misapplying:  spiritual formation.  I have heard it for several years, but I never dug into the meaning or the practice until today.  I thought it was a good thing--people were seeking to become spiritual and to recognize God in daily life.  Well, maybe not.

Maybe they were seeking candles or aromas or things of nature to provide a peaceful and meditative mood.  To feel the sun on the skin and the cooling breeze does not make one spiritual.  It may make you sunburned or cool you off, but this is not a spiritual experience. I have read Thomas Merton who was a contemplative monk.  I valued his insights, but I don't intend to retire to a monastery or a convent and stare at the wall waiting for God to speak to me.  

God speaks to me through the words in the Bible.  Sometimes I get inspired by other people who read the Bible and express opinions and revelations.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one who inspires me a lot, and Andrew Murray, Mother Teresa; these and others I read speak of the Bible, not rituals or manufactured evidence of peace and harmony.  Their writing and their lives reveal God, not some vague concept of peace floating on a cloud.

Homo unius libre means "man of one book."  This is a phrase John Wesley used meaning that he sought inspiration and guidance from the Bible.  We may read other books, but they must align with the Bible and be judged by it.  

I think I have even done some of the "spiritual formation" in classes or speeches.  I have given the instruction to clear you mind of everything and wait for God to speak to you.  This is really dumb.  Better if we read a scripture and focus on it and memorize it so we can carry it with us.  Then God's word may become a "lamp for the feet and a light for the path."  

The next time someone tells you about "spiritual formation," be very cautious and question what kind of spirit they intend to form.  Seek the Bible's truths and God's path for you, and don't be lured to the nothingness of a vague filmy expanse of highway that leads nowhere.  Become a man or woman of one book.

1 comment:

unikorna said...

I personally believe that faith is a very private matter, each individual has its own way of communicating and connecting with God. That is why maybe I was never very much impressed with that kind of ministers that invade the television and threaten us with the wrath of God. I believe in a merciful God not a cruel and vengeful one.