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Christian Spiritual Formation in the Church and Classroom Paperback – November 1, 1989
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From the Back Cover
In this thought-provoking new volume, Susanne Johnson counters what she sees as 'wrong-thinking' in much contemporary Christian education by offering forceful ideas about spiritual formation and faith development.
About the Author
Dr. Susanne Johnson teaches Christian education at Perkins School of Theology. Among her publications is Christian Spiritual Formation in the Church and Classroom.
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Johnson developed a concise description of a model of spiritual formation based on the Christian Story. Spiritual growth was when we recognize that we each have our own stories and that we need to link our stories to that of the Christian Story. The Christian Story forms the content of spiritual formation while the local congregation forms the context of our formation. The key to this formation is participation in worship, praxis and instruction, using the means of grace.
For this model to work, the congregation must be a spiritually vital and spiritually growing one. Much of what Johnson has written depends on the congregation providing the context, the teaching and the modelling. What happens if the congregation is weak? What if most if not all of the members are worldly, attaching their stories to other cultural stories rather than the Christian story? Would spiritual formation take place in that congregation? One must take into account that the congregation also teaches the explicit, hidden and null curriculum.
This model also depends on strong Christian leadership who is aware of the Christian story and who can lead and design programs that involve participation, give group or individual guidance, teach the spiritual disciplines and live a life of worship.
It is interesting that Johnson took issue with modern psychology which she likens to a religion in itself and in faith developmental theories which she is afraid will be used legalistically by some Christian leaders. While there is some truth in her fears, one must also be reminded that these are wonderful tools which can help us to understand ourselves and our faith/moral development. As all tools, it should be used to produce results and not as an end for itself.
In summary, Johnson has produced an excellent seminal work on spiritual formation in the congregation based on the meta-narrative of the Christian Story.