Posted tagged ‘Spiritual Formation’

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: The Gospel Forms

April 26, 2012

At the conclusion of my last post about the triperspectival framework, I mentioned the role of gospel “forms” in the diagram I created to explain gospel-centered spiritual formation. Before I jump into the perspectives individually, I want to explain what I mean by gospel forms and how those forms overlap to give greater gospel focus to spiritual disciplines through the triperspectival framework.

Tim Keller and Gospel “Forms”

One of the most significant articles Tim Keller has written on the gospel can be found at Christianity Today, entitled “The Gospel in All Its Forms“.  In this article, Keller borrows from Simon Gathercole’s chapter in God’s Power to Save to explain the various “forms” of the gospel. Contrary to liberal theologians, Keller says there is not multiple gospels, but one gospel expressed in different forms.

For instance, when Jesus speaks of the gospel in the Synoptic Gospels, kingdom language is employed (“gospel of the kingdom”). In this case, the gospel speaks to the inauguration of Christ’s reign as King, and the focus is more communal and social.  When the Apostle John writes about the Gospel, there is no mention of kingdom language but rather “receiving eternal life,” and the focus is more individual and personal. When you get the writings of Paul, you hear little emphasis on “kingdom” or “eternal life” but instead the focus is on “justification by faith“. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul are all talking about one message, but that message is expressed in different forms. Through an analysis of these forms, what you find is that the gospel can be expressed as story-arc focused (creation, fall, redemption, restoration) as well as content-driven (God, man, sin, Christ). Not to be left out, Keller stresses the eschatological implications of the gospel with the in breaking of God’s kingdom and renewal of all things.

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Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: The Triperspectival Framework

April 25, 2012

In my first post, I provided a little background to the development of this paradigm I’ve created, called gospel-centered spiritual formation. I argued that the literature on spiritual disciplines largely does not factor in the gospel, and gospel-centered literature has yet to address the role of spiritual disciplines in the life of a gospel-centered Christian.  This dichotomy is an unfortunate one, and I think it can be addressed, which I intend to do through a triperspectival framework.

Brief Primer on Tripespectivalism

Although I have written several articles on triperspectivalism, I don’t want to assume everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The two pioneering theologians on triperpsectivalism (or multiperspectivalism) are John Frame and Vern Poythress.  Generally speaking, triperspectivalism focuses on the three offices of Christ’s mediation, namely prophet, priest, and king. In his book Symphonic Theology, Poythress says “each of the three main offices can be expanded into a perspective on the way in which Christ mediates the presence of God to human beings” (39). Ultimately, prophet, priest, and king–the three roles of Old Testament leadership–culminate in the person and work of Christ.

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Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation: A Little Background

April 23, 2012

I never heard about spiritual disciplines until I took a class on it while in college. In those early years of my spiritual development, I was directed to books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. As a lifelong athlete training who loved to train for physical fitness, I really liked the idea of spiritually training/discipline for godliness.  I am grateful for this period of time in my life where I was not only taking the call for spiritual growth seriously but also the call to gospel ministry.

Fast forward four years, and I am ending a four-year stint in youth ministry and entering seminary.  It was at this time that God began to work deeply in my about the sufficiency of the gospel, and more specifically understanding how my union with Christ changes how I live as a Christian.  When I looked back at the intentional efforts of being spiritually disciplined, I realized how little attention was being paid to the gospel. For whatever reason, the gospel was absent from a lot of the literature pertaining to spiritual disciplines, and the consequence (in part) was that the gospel was assumed in a lot of my spiritual development.

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been a renaissance of gospel-centered literature, and for that I’m extremely grateful. I have attempted to argue for years that the greatest need in evangelical life is the recovery and rediscovery of the gospel. In the midst of all the excellent literature coming out on the gospel, I have not seen anything written on the relationship of gospel centrality to spiritual disciplines. They appear to have two different approaches to spiritual formation, angling in two different directions for living the Christian life.

And yet I don’t think that must needs be the case.

I have recently thought about this, in particular how the gospel-centered life and importance of spiritual disciplines work in concert for a believer’s spiritual formation. The result is a triperspectival diagram that I want to break down for your consideration.  For now, I’m simply going to post the diagram. In the coming days, I hope to explain it in detail for those interested in my attempt to bridge the gap between gospel centrality and spiritual formation through a triperspectival framework.