Two Types of Spirituality

Rollins QuoteYesterday’s post (An Emergent Spirituality: the Expansive Event) began an exploration into a new concept for me – an expansive spirituality. This morning I was sharing Peter Rollins’ book Insurrection with an adult class I teach. A comment from Rollins opened new doors for my exploration – namely, that there seem to be two kinds of spiritual formation for the Christian:

“In the sacrifice for religion, Christ loses everything for God, while in the sacrifice of religion Christ loses everything including God.” Peter Rollins, Insurrection (2011), page 27.

Crucifixion spirituality – thoughts, desires, and behaviors are progressively stripped away as the believer’s life and thoughts become more aligned with that of Yeshua, whom we call the Christ. We become crucified with Christ. Nouwen describes this as a “large cone that becomes narrower the deeper you go. … with Jesus … waiting for you at the end.” The Inner Voice of Love (1996), page 51. Being a follower of Yeshua is the goal. For this part of the journey, we sacrifice for religion, losing (almost) everything for God. Rollins reminds us that the church often “acts as a security blanket that enables us to speak of the Crucifixion without ever undergoing its true liberating horror” (page 48).

The crucifixion journey is mapped by disciplines – practices framed to keep the believer on the right track. These practices are designed with the understanding that there are times when we are weak and need external management of our spiritual lives – especially early on in our journey. Some people never progress beyond the crucifixion journey.

For many, crucifixion spirituality leads to a crisis. Go far enough, deep enough into the crucifixion journey and you my experience a genuine crisis (crucifixion) that exposes “its true liberating horror” and opens the possibility of resurrection.

Resurrection Spirituality – now the process reverses. Instead of a narrowing (constricting), life moves out from its center. If the crucifixion journey moves toward Yeshua, the resurrection journey moves out from Yeshua to others, the world around you. As our journeys take on this dimension we begin to experience the sacrifice of religion, losing everything including God. Yeshua is no longer someone to follow; now your journey with him, through him, out from him, and, perhaps, even beyond him. The external Christ is now the Christ within. You are no longer seeking salvation; now you are living a salvic life. You no longer seek Christ; now you are Christ for the world. Resurrection is no longer only the story of what happened to Yeshua; it is now your story, our story, as resurrection bubbles up all around.

Last week I had the opportunity to preach at the congregation I attend. At that time I introduced an addition to the Easter affirmation – “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! We are risen; we are risen indeed!” I was pleased when our pastor ended this morning’s worship with the both the affirmation and the addition. The fulness of the Christian life is about moving beyond crucifixion into resurrection. Rollins puts it this way:

Resurrection life is not some turning away from the experience of death that we find in the event of Crucifixion but rather describes a way of living in its very midst and finding there a truly affirming life. … Eternal life is thus fundamentally a transformation in the very way we live in the present. … Resurrection is not something one argues for, but it is the name we give to a mode of living.” (pages 108, 111, 161)

After experiencing the true horror of death that we find in the Crucifixion, life begin to take on new meaning…  life expands (in John’s gospel Yeshua called it abundant life)…  the caterpillar is transformed into the butterfly and takes flight.

Tomorrow’s post will explore my definition of an expansive (Resurrection) spirituality.

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