This paper looks at how spiritual formation and growth can develop through a person’s lifetime. The goal is to show how modern day human development theories relate to Christlike living. Erikson’s developmental theory and Kohlberg’s moral development theory both give a guide to maturity in a secular worldview. By looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we can see God’s directions to living a Christlike life in a Christian worldview. It’s also important to look at the influence of the Holy Spirit in developing a person’s spiritual life. By relating a worldly view of personal development with god’s guidance through scripture and the Holy Spirit, we can show how to live a Christlike life in this world.
Developing a Biblical Worldview for Spiritual Formation and Growth
Human development is the fields of studies that “seeks to understand how and why people—all kinds of people, everywhere—change or remain the same over time” (Berger, 2008, p.3). This development occurs in four specific areas; physical, cognitive, psychological, and spiritual. Berger explains that physical, cognitive, and psychological development helps explain why or how a person’s body and mind changes or remains the same over his or her lifetime. Spiritual development or spiritual formation helps explain the spiritual changes through one’s life.
The search to understand physical, cognitive, and psychological development is a science. The understanding of the areas of development comes from research, data, and eventually theories born from the data. Developmentalist Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg both authored theories for how and why a person develops throughout his lifetime (Berger, 2008). Berger explains these theories work to make sense out of the actions of a person through his life span in a secular world viewpoint. Spiritual formation is an intentional growth in awareness and knowledge of God and the role God plays in a person’s life (Bramer, 2007). The Bible tells Christians to strive to be like Christ. In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi, he wrote “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil 2:5-13). Bramer states “The means of spiritual formation are themselves practices and include retreats, reflection through journaling, prayer-reading of Scripture, individual and group spiritual direction, daily and weekly worship, and engagement with those in various forms of poverty and alienation” (p. 357). In order for an individual to develop and change, he must first be aware of the context in which he views his world Worldviews
Hiebert (2008) defines worldview as “the foundational cognitive, affective, and evaluative assumptions and frameworks a group of people makes about the nature of reality which they use to order their lives” (p. 25). How a person sees the world in which he lives defines his worldview. Hiebert describes the functions of worldviews as explaining the reality of how things are as well as explaining why a person may behave the way he does. He cites other functions of worldview as; worldviews give developmentalist a foundation in which to build their assumptions and theories; they help make sense of the culture in which a person lives, they validate the reasons why things occur within a culture; and they help justify cultural changes. Having a Christian worldview is at the heart of discipleship (Hiebert, 2008). In Matthew 5:11-16, Christ calls all Christians to be “the salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” Christians are to be a living example of Jesus’ character by following his examples. In Romans 12:2, Paul warns Christians “Do not conform...