Christian formation, growth toward wholeness in the image of Christ, is becoming a person radically abandoned to God in love, manifesting in cruciform availability to God for others.
The Christian Formation Process is our effort to be more intentional and accountable to what we’ve always sought to be about at Asbury: Formation. From classroom to chapel, library to lunchroom, sanctuary to soup kitchen, Christian formation is the journey of learning Christ.
Called to a Journey
A useful analogy for understanding the Christian life, especially in the Wesleyan tradition, is as a spiritual “journey,” or pilgrimage toward being formed in the image of Christ. Jesus alluded to the step-by-step nature of the believer’s experience when He urged them to “Follow me.” He framed his centrality to their experience by using journey imagery like “I am the Way…”. The first picture of discipleship is fraught with images of people leaving, picking up, and wandering together in mission throughout ancient Palestinian towns and countryside. Jesus invited his first and all subsequent followers to follow him in a life of Christian discipleship.
Classical Christian writers on the Christian experience repeatedly refer to journey. Key examples are Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan, 17th century), Pilgrim’s Regress (C. S. Lewis, 20th century), The Stairway to Perfection (Walter Hilton, 13th century), and “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” (traditional African-American spiritual).
Recognizing the rich imagery of journey within our heritage, Asbury Seminary (in its Christian Formation Plan) has framed its learning ideals around the metaphorical concept of the journey that requires a “map.” Seminary is not the Christian life, but it is, for those who choose this step of intensified preparation for service, a significant formation path on the Christian journey.
Though the ultimate destination transcends the temporal realm of this life, genuine possibilities of eternal life breaking in on the temporal order are available to those who follow Christ. To use the words of the prayer the Lord taught, believers are to petition God that they and the communities of which they are a part may live “on earth as it is in heaven”. Those being formed as Christians are journeying toward heaven while committed to expressing the values of heaven now.
One concept, selected from the grander journey metaphor of faith, is of particular use to the seminarian on journey with us in the Asbury Seminary Community. It is that of the map. The journey of growth, the path to holiness, is necessarily one that must be guided, and so language such as sign, landmark, map, itinerary, pilgrimage, and guide is useful in conveying how one is to journey for and toward Christ, and is of particular use to seminarians and families, faculty, administration, and staff journeying together in the Asbury Seminary community.
Mission, and therefore Christian
formation, is about participation in the
outreaching, healing, redemptive love of God and is not
primarily about self- actualization (CFP)
Today 70 percent of all Christians live in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceana, and are increasingly urban…
… To fulfill the vision of Christian formation theological education can
no longer ignore or exclude global Christian spiritualities. (CFP)