Benjamin Franklin may have been an early follower of incarnational spirituality. He was quoted as saying “God helps those who help themselves,” in a 1757 edition of the Poor Richard Almanac. Incarnational spirituality is a faith based way of embracing life and extending ones own power toward the work and goals of God. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines spirituality as “something which according to ecclesiastical law belongs to the church, sensitivity or attachment to religious values or the quality or state of being spiritual.
” However, in the book The Holy Longing: Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality author Ronald Rolheiser states that spirituality is more than that. Spirituality is a presence that one can embrace and become a part of. According to Rolheiser, God is a presence that individuals have the power to represent in the flesh.
“Spirituality is not a law to be obeyed, but a presence to be seized, undergone and given flesh to, (Rolheiser, 1999, p. 9).” Rolheiser debates God’s ability to answer prayers.
He asserts that in order for prayers to be answered one must give themselves over to the solution and allow God to use their flesh in solving whatever the situation at hand is. “Such is the power, and the responsibility, that God has given us in Christ. We can forgive others sins; not we, but the power of Christ within us. As Jesus himself tells us: ‘In truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works I do myself and will perform even greater works, (Rolheiser, p. 88).”
Following incarnational spirituality is not just about being a Christian. What Rolheiser outlines can be utilized in almost every religious context. “Spirituality encompasses and permeates one’s being and may or may not include denominational beliefs, (Magness, 1999, p. 83).”
Incarnational spirituality works by encouraging participation in the works of God. “In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us that a prayer of petition, addressed to God is infallible: ‘Ask and you shall receive; search and ye shall find; knock and the door shall be opened to you. Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; and everyone who knocks will have the door opened, (Rolheiser, 1999, p. 82).” But this is not always so. Many times one pray or ask God for something and never receive it. According to Rolheiser when we pray for something we are also giving ourselves responsibility for being part of the solution. As Franklin would say, “God helps those who help themselves,” or according to Rolheiser “When we pray through Christ we are also praying through the body of Christ.” The body of Christ includes Jesus and all of the believers in Christ on earth. “We are praying through all of these. Thus, not only God in heaven is being petitioned and asked to act. We are also charging ourselves, as part of the body of Christ, with some of the responsibility for answering the prayer, (Rolheiser, p. 83).” An example that Rolheiser used was to say that a participant who prays for God to cure their sick mother but does not drive her to the doctor is not going to have their prayer answered. It requires a proactive step towards the solution to engage God.
Incarnational Spirituality is not necessarily a new concept. People have understood this concept since the days of Christ. However, as a practice incarnational spirituality is an evolving work in progress. The implications for this approach to spirituality are that one has the power to share love, community, forgiveness and God by being a physical manifestation of these things. “Incarnational Spirituality is a practical approach to being spiritually and energetically effective in this world, both in crafting our own lives and in service to others and to the planet, (Spangler, 2007, ¶ 1).” In a day and age when multiple groups of religious participants crusade to baptize dissidents, pass out pamphlets or make sojourns to foreign lands where possibly a religious figure once passed incarnational spirituality offers a deeper commitment to religion. This approach allows one to embody Christ and show the world Christ as opposed to preaching Christ.
In conclusion, incarnational spirituality embodies an evolving approach to spirituality. This is an age-old practice of becoming an extension of God and participating in the work of God as part of his living flesh. The idea has roots in the bible and beginning of Christianity. However, it has not emerged as a doctrine of its own until the twentieth century. The implications of this practice for the larger world community are the opportunity for love and peace by concentrating on individual actions which radiate Gods mission. Instead of preaching Gods love be Gods love, show Gods love. Incarnational Spirituality offers an approach to religion that incorporates many diverse traditions. It can be applied to most any denomination and most any ideology.
The idea that each individual must take a proactive approach to spirituality is beneficial in many ways. This gives participants the opportunity to engage in Gods word as well as to be a part of their own solution. As opposed to many different approaches to religion incarnational spirituality teaches each of us to search within for answers which resonates religion as well as self-awareness and eastern practices of enlightenment.
Magness, J. (1999). The Genesis and Gestation of a Justice Journey (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech, 1994). Dissertations Abstracts International, 042099-225243, .
Rolheiser, R. (1999). The Holy Longing: Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality (1st ed.). : DoubleDay.
Spangler, D. (2007). What is Incarnational Spirituality. The Center Post: An Occasional Journal of Rowe Camp and Conference Center , 19(1), 6.
Cite this Incarnational Spirituality
Incarnational Spirituality. (2016, Oct 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/incarnational-spirituality/