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.

Author Bio

David Hooper currently serves as the Lead Evangelist for the Austin Christian Church. Prior to coming to Austin, David and his wife Angela spent four years in the Former Soviet Union (1992-1996) serving ministries in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev. They led church plantings to Riga, Latvia and Odessa, Ukraine. David and Angela have three children, Stasya, Savannah and Callia. David graduated from California State University – Long Beach with a BA in Political Science. He received is MDiv from Lubbock Christian University in 2009 and is currently working toward his DMin at Abilene Christian University.