Some History: Our mission statement at Tidewater Bible College (TBC) is to provide affordable theological education that dynamically integrates Christian spirituality with the classroom experience. What does this mean? In a partial response to this question, TBC established the Center for Christian Spirituality and Formation (CCSF) to investigate and then implement a dynamic integration of Christian spirituality with the classroom experience at TBC.
Some Thoughts: As TBC began investigating what a “dynamic integration of Christian spirituality with the classroom experience” meant, it became quickly clear that understanding what Christian spirituality and formation meant would be necessary. Habitually, Christianity spiritually has meant going to church, worshipping in some manner, and leading a pure life, etc. Or to state it in another manner, Christian spirituality is a collection of “practices that grow out of the theological understandings of those whose chosen path to God is by way of discipleship to Jesus Christ.” Thus, the Azusa Street revivals fostered the development of a collection of practices that frame the experiences of men and women in the Pentecostal/Charismatic (P/C) movement of the early 20th century. These experiences have in turn led to additional periods of revival or “re-freshings” that are further defining not only the theological understandings, but also are defining the outward expressions of the participants. As an indication of the magnitude of these P/C definitions, an Internet search reveals over 127,000 hits covering the breadth and range of thoughts associated with “P/C revivals.” A review of some of the web pages associated with P/C revivals indicates that a dominant theme is that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit seen in the first century Christian Church (see e.g. the book of Acts), such as miracles, prophecy, and glossolalia (speaking in other tongues or languages), are available to contemporary Christians and may be experienced and practiced today. Additionally, it can be stated that there is a general consensus that these Holy Spirit: manifestations reveal a working activity within the human spirit; an activity that can in some sense be understood. What is this activity then, but spiritual formation? Averbeck states in his article A Biblical Theology for Spiritual Formation that spiritual formation “focuses our attention on the dynamics of how the Holy Spirit works in us, among us, and through us. Spiritual formation is, first, dynamic in its emphasis on the divine power and means of formation, and second, deep in its focus on the inner workings of the human person.” Thus one sees that Christian spirituality and formation deals with the workings of the Holy Spirit within the human person. In other words, Christian spirituality and formation is the understanding of the processes associated with the working of the Holy Spirit within frail human spirits, participating in those processes, and the stimulation of those processes, resulting in the manifesting of P/C experiences similar to that revealed in the early church.
THE QUESTION: Is this what Christian Spirituality and Formation is about? CCSF will continue to investigate this and determine what next steps are required to come to a better understanding of the question.