Three dimensions of
We could endlessly discuss the nature of spiritual growth, but more productive is the empirical finding that there are at least three basic dimensions.
The cognitive dimension: the transformation of the intelligence leading to a change of attitudes. When people get involved in reading, attending lectures, etc. deep-seated attitudes and beliefs change in the process.
The devotional dimension: developing self-reflexivity. When people spend time in prayer, bible reading, traditional devotions, retreats, silent time, etc. they become more self-reflexive.
The action dimension: the works of faith. When people get involved in works of charity, social justice, parish activities, sharing their faith with others, etc. they also deepen their faith lives.
These three dimensions have been analyzed in over 1,000 churches where people filled out a questionnaire about their faith, their spiritual practices and their works of charity. The results were combined to produce for a given church an average score for each of these three dimensions. A variety of typical churches appeared: the complacent churches (low score on all three dimensions), the introverted churches (high on prayer but low on action), the extroverted churches (high on works, low on prayer), the average churches with only average performances, the self-motivated churches where people are active but lack leadership direction, the troubled churches in permanent conflict with the pastor, the vibrant church where faith is strong and people are involved in all kinds of practices and activities.
Individuals can similarly define their spirituality in terms of these three dimensions. Some people may recognized themselves as either complacent, introverted, extroverted, average, self-motivated, or vibrant.
Are Sermons and theology mainly ratiocinations? Is spirituality mainly thoughts and talks?
1) Many sermons only offer generalities not leading to anything specific in terms lived faith, devotions and works of faith. They usually preach a religious moralism divorced from biblical revelation. Do you agree?
2) Many people assume that a religious discourse is automatically spiritual. PhD dissertations in theology are obviously religious, but not necessarily spiritual. A dissertation about doctrine without lived faith is often just ratiocination – although of some intellectual value. Can we go one step further and say that much theological discourse is mainly cerebral ratiocination?