This paper is an examination of two seemingly counterintuitive concepts in Christian spiritual formation. The concept of cruciformity presents the goal of spiritual formation as kenosis, or “emptying oneself of self.” The differentiation of self, as presented in Systems Theory, defines maturity as possessing a clear sense of self. Cruciformity, with its call to kenosis, does not seem to value individuality, making it susceptible to the trappings of enmeshment that emerge from an unbalanced focus on others. Cruciformity seems to judge differentiation as being too balanced, reserving for itself a degree of self-focus that would be deemed inappropriate. It is the thesis of this paper that the kind of spiritual maturity called for by Christ is by necessity kenotic, but that cruciformity and kenosis are only truly possible when a healthy degree of differentiation is present. Therefore, a pursuit of differentiation must be simultaneous with, if not prerequisite to, a commitment to a life of cruciformity. This paper will explore and synthesize cruciformity and differentiation, examining how they complement one another and provide a well-rounded foundation for Christian spiritual formation.
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"Cruciformity, Differentiation, and Christian Spiritual Formation,"
Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry: Vol. 3:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/discernment/vol3/iss1/1