I never heard about spiritual disciplines until I took a class on it while in college. In those early years of my spiritual development, I was directed to books like Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, and Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. As a lifelong athlete training who loved to train for physical fitness, I really liked the idea of spiritually training/discipline for godliness. I am grateful for this period of time in my life where I was not only taking the call for spiritual growth seriously but also the call to gospel ministry.
Fast forward four years, and I am ending a four-year stint in youth ministry and entering seminary. It was at this time that God began to work deeply in my about the sufficiency of the gospel, and more specifically understanding how my union with Christ changes how I live as a Christian. When I looked back at the intentional efforts of being spiritually disciplined, I realized how little attention was being paid to the gospel. For whatever reason, the gospel was absent from a lot of the literature pertaining to spiritual disciplines, and the consequence (in part) was that the gospel was assumed in a lot of my spiritual development.
Over the past 2-3 years, there has been a renaissance of gospel-centered literature, and for that I’m extremely grateful. I have attempted to argue for years that the greatest need in evangelical life is the recovery and rediscovery of the gospel. In the midst of all the excellent literature coming out on the gospel, I have not seen anything written on the relationship of gospel centrality to spiritual disciplines. They appear to have two different approaches to spiritual formation, angling in two different directions for living the Christian life.
And yet I don’t think that must needs be the case.
I have recently thought about this, in particular how the gospel-centered life and importance of spiritual disciplines work in concert for a believer’s spiritual formation. The result is a triperspectival diagram that I want to break down for your consideration. For now, I’m simply going to post the diagram. In the coming days, I hope to explain it in detail for those interested in my attempt to bridge the gap between gospel centrality and spiritual formation through a triperspectival framework.