Monday, September 28, 2009

Missional Monday: Pseudo-Spirituality

I had been warned! I had been warned by many that seminary would kill my spiritual life. But it is not the only thing that can. There are numerous pseudo-spiritualities that lull us into a way of life that only mirrors a vibrant life with Christ, but is in reality only a dim reflection.

A friend recently reflected with me about his struggle with the pseudo-spirituality of seminary life, where it is easy to think that reading Genesis 1-50 (in one sitting!) is simultaneously homework and devotion. Where one reads Trinitarian theology for 5 hours and allows oneself to claim the time as also a contemplative practice of union with God. But sadly, this is not the case, and seminary life can all too easily fall into pseudo-spirituality.

But unfortunately seminary is not the only place this occurs. Parenting can turn into pseudo-spirituality as we think teaching our children about God, or living as examples of Christ can replace our own struggle and practices of living in Christ. Pastoral ministry of all kinds (vocational or not) can fall into pseudo-spirituality. Leadership meetings, discipleship times, counseling prayer, hospital visitations, or sermon preparation can all lend themselves as spiritual practices of a kind, and it is tempting to allow them to replace disciplined time with Christ. Likewise, social action and community service, with all the time it demands and the concerns it generates can function as a pseudo-spirituality. The list could go on.

Now I’m certainly not saying all the above have no part in forming a vibrant life with Christ. That would be absolutely wrong. But rather the reverse. That all these must be fundamentally connected to Christ, and should never act as a replacement, but rather as an extension of living with Christ.

Here at Life on the Vine, we seek to “live in Christ, with one another, for God’s mission in the world.” But I must remember that I can’t allow living in community or the practices of mission to become the center of my spiritual life because then caring for/being with other and living the gospel life transforms into a pseudo-spirituality. Rather, “living in Christ” is the center that is not a center, because it permeates all things, for it is only by His Spirit that I can do all the others.

So what other forms of Pseudo-Spirituality have you been tempted by?

3 comments:

  1. I may have this wrong, but you seem to be prioritizing a quiet time or "devotional" aspect of spirituality above other parts of spirituality. From a theological perspective do you see a hierarchy of some of the expressions of faith (parenting in a godly way, social action, devotional time, studying scripture, ministry, etc.)? I struggle with the balance of it all seeming to prefer extremes: lots of devotional, quiet, alone time pursuing/listening to God OR lots of service OR intentional spiritual study with my kids OR accountability. It is the pursuit of all of these things at once that seems to make me dizzy. My gut tells me that the pursuit of God in all of these areas is what He desires, but I am curious whether you think one is more important than another. Maybe I am just not quite getting it since I am not in vocational ministry or theological studies. ;)

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