Points of unease with the spiritual formation movement.


Talbot School of Theology

Publication Date

Fall 2012


This paper offers a critique of certain aspects of the spiritual formation movement as it has been manifested in evangelical churches in the past few decades. My experience with this facet of the spiritual formation movement has grown out of my former ministry as a pastor in a large, evangelical, suburban congregation and out of my current role as a professor serving at a Christian university and seminary. It is a friendly critique, offered by a person who has been directly involved in facilitating spiritual formation in various settings within the evangelical community. Taken together, the points of unease I will identify are not a "cease and desist" order, but rather a cautionary word for all of us who seek to press the spiritual formation movement forward. These points of unease include: 1) unease about a dualistic tendency to value spirituality at the expense of the material world, 2) unease with devotional practices grown in the soil of monastic Catholicism rather than Protestantism, 3) unease with a rhetorical strategy that sharply distinguishes between being and doing, 4) unease with devotional practices that fail the "soccer mom" test, and S) an unease with certain ways of using Scripture which are devotionally fruitful but hermeneutically faulty


Spiritual formation; Church

Publication Title

Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care





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