SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

an excerpt

Martin Thornton


Authorized Reissue


© Akenside Press and Matthew C. Dallman, 2016. Reissued with permission of Monica Thornton. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Akenside Press.

First British edition, 1984
by S.P.C.K., London
First US edition, 1984
by Cowley Publications

Cover image "Jesus calling Simon Peter and Andrew" by Duccio di Buoninsegna licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original





CONTENTS

Preface
1. Introduction: Bi-sociation and Via Media
2. The Ambulance Syndrome
3. The Guidance Game
4. The Relationship
5. Love on the Slab
6. The Categories: Ancient and Modern
7. The Ascetical Syllabus
8. The Bible
9. Creed and Doctrine
10. Moral Theology
11. The Schools
12. Progression
13. Progression: Ancient and Modern
14. Socio-Theology: A Curious Courtship
15. Some Practical Guidelines

APPENDICES





PREFACE

In May of 1979 Bishop Graham Leonard asked me to initiate a substantial course of study for potential spiritual directors, both clerical and lay, men and women, in hope that this would help to fill a notorious Anglican gap, and supply a growing need.

It did not sound too arduous a commission, yet the process of setting the course going, taking part in some thirty sessions, and entering into dialogue with others who are vocationally inclined to this ministry, has resulted in this book.

The first job was to create a syllabus, spread over four years, but suitably reduced for those already well grounded in biblical and systematic theology. That is a fair description of the present book: an extended syllabus covering the range of studies required for competent direction.

It then became necessary to think of the practicalities. Having absorbed the necessary knowledge, precisely how was it to be applied? What was the relationship involved? How do you actually begin to guide another in the progressive life of prayer?

Spiritual direction is a complicated business, a combination of art and science, with science as the predominant partner. It demands a special approach to a wide range of theological studies, and then extends still further, because Christian spirituality is no personal, hole-in-a-corner pietism but the source of love and the power of redemption. Eventually subsidiary disciplines like sociology, psychology and history play their part and finally, since Christian prayer is rooted in the Incarnation, cultural factors of particular societies have to be considered.

The perennial problem is that, while admitting the complexity of any interesting and worthwhile project, it all sounds horrifically worse when written down and printed. Write down all the knowledge to drive a car from London to Manchester, then log every incident on the journey, every sign that must be read, every decision that has to be made, every minor misjudgement by oneself or by others, and there can be only one conclusion: to drive from London to Manchester is absolutely impossible.

I hope the book is not quite so bad as that. It is probably not since it comes as some surprise to me to be made to realize what I have been doing for the past thirty years. Were the book to fall into the hands of any of those under my spiritual direction I think they would be equally surprised what has been happening to them.

Without more explanation or apology, the book arises out of our studies in Truro which are designed for those of some theological acumen, who feel vocationally called to this much needed form of pastoral ministry, and who are prepared to work at it seriously and continuously.



More to come.


© Akenside Press and Matthew C. Dallman, 2016. Reissued with permission of Monica Thornton. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Akenside Press.