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Our perception of reality is influenced by and cannot occur apart from (1) the effect of all our experiences (preunderstandings) and our (2) decisions, both conscious and unconscious, about reality (presuppositions).

In a similar way, understanding a text is controlled by the text’s genre and context. We all use different rules to interpret different genres, whether personal letters, poetry, or newspaper articles. In addition, one cannot adequately understand a text without knowing its context, both the specific purpose for which an author created the text (historical context) and the text’s place within a larger literary unit (literary context).

This comparison between reality and texts suggests that we may view reality as a kind of text. Texts have objective meaning that exists apart from our exact knowledge of it. Likewise, reality has objective meaning that exists apart from our exact knowledge of it. The knowledge we do have of reality is controlled by our interpretation or perception of it. And this perception is a product of our preunderstandings and presuppositions.

Furthermore, it is helpful to think of our perception of reality itself as a text, a story. This story is the reality in which one lives and by which one interprets reality. Though this reality, this story, is analogous to objective reality, it is not the same as objective reality—it is one’s perception of reality, your story.

To illustrate: Why do different people (e.g., a husband and wife!) and different people-groups interpret the same facts differently? Ignorance? Sin? Different stories?

Our stories do not function in isolation, but (more…)

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What label should one use for the post-conversion life of a Christian believer? The institution at which I teach uses the term “spiritual formation.” In this academic context, “spiritual formation” is synonymous with “practical sanctification” (as opposed to what theologians call “positional” or “definitive sanctification”).

A study of “spiritual formation,” as described above, must address many questions. A few of those questions include the following ones: What is the goal of spiritual formation? What does the spiritual formation “path” look like? What is the believer’s responsibility in his or her own in spiritual formation? What is the church’s role? What is the place of the so-called disciplines in spiritual formation?

The following chart addresses these questions in summary form. Admittedly, such two-dimensional representations of abstract thought have inherent limitations. However, they also can provide one with a tentative map that may help direct one’s exploration of a subject. With that goal in mind, I have presented this chart to my students and now share it with you.

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Disciplines in Spiritual Formation by Robert Milliman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

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