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Spiritual Perspectives

Concerns Purpose, meaning, truth, goodness, passion, Ego-transcendence Study of God as source of creation; God as fullness of truth and goodness. Deification/theosis. Participation in the divine nature; growing the divine life.
Goal Authentic human living, individuation, integration, enlightenment. Embracing God's will as means of realizing one's destiny as a unique creature. Relational union with God. Transformation of human nature by the Holy Spirit.
Examples Humanistic and transpersonal psychology, nontheistic religion. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, some branches of Hinduism. Most explicitly affirmed in Christianity, especially in its mystical tradition.
Spiritual Disciplines Awareness, listening, reflection, dialogue, focusing, Enneagram, MBTI, various tools for inner exploration, responsible decision-making, relationships, right-lifestyle. Prayer, study of sacred texts, practice of religious virtue, examination of conscience, community life. Prayer, study of Scripture, discernment, exercise of charisms, Sacrament, examen of consciousness, communal life, worship, living in love.
Academic Discipline Human sciences and philosophy Theology-study of God. Theotics, or mystical theology.

complied by Philip St. Romain, D. Min.
adapted from The Core of Human Spirituality: Mind as Psyche and Spirit, by Daniel Helminiak

  1. The movement from the philosophic to the theotic reflects a widening embrace of concerns and possibilities, one level taking up where another leaves off.
  2. The higher perspectives do not invalidate the lower; e.g., what is true at the philosophic level is not invalidated by the theistic -- unless there is bad theology happening, or inauthentic undersanding/living.
  3. Spiritual practices, goals and means at a lower level are foundational to the higher. The higher, in turn, can serve to inform, support and energize these foundational disciplines. E.g., Christians are not exempt from practicing awareness, listening, and responsible decision-making; these basic spiritual practices help to enhance theotic realization.
  4. Religion, formally speaking, moves in the theistic and theotic levels.
  5. Spirituality, as a uniquely human phenomenon, is grounded in the philosophic level.
  6. Spirituality moving into theistic concern is theistic (or Jewish, Islamic, etc.) spirituality; when embracing theotic concerns, it is theotic (Christian) spirituality.
  7. There is another perspective -- the positivist/scientific -- which is not a spiritual concern, per se, but is committed to understanding the way things are . . . the de facto nature of things, or what happens to be the case. It might enter into religious and spiritual matters as when establishing what practices people do, what their beliefs are, how they feel about people from other faiths, etc. This is not spirituality, however, even though it pertains to spiritual topics.