Among the recurring voices in my spiritual formation studies is that of Robert Mulholland (1936-2015). Professor emeritus of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, he authored three titles which figure prominently in my work—as a person and as a pastor:
- Invitation to a Journey (a landmark book, in many minds, on the meaning and nature of spiritual formation),
- Shaped by the Word (a focus on a spiritual formation approach to reading the Scriptures), and
- The Deeper Journey (a discussion of spiritual formation as a journey to our “true selves”).
A gift to my Lenten journey this year has been the discovery of a podcast series from Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Center. “The Deeper Journey” (hosted by Barton and Steve Wiens) has been a great compliment to some drives and walks – and a perfect way to revisit Mulholland’s writings on “the spirituality of discovering your true self.”
Admittedly, Barton and Wiens only brush the surface. What do you expect when they only take about 45 minutes per chapter? Still, there are redeeming aspects – as, for example, when Barton speaks of her friendship with Mulholland or when Weins speaks from his experience as a pastor. Hearing other voices can be a great way of adding new layers to old understandings.
For those just getting their feet wet in matters of spiritual formation, it might be worth noting that season 10 in the podcast walks with Mulholland’s “Invitation to a Journey,” a foundational text on the topic.
Lent’s almost over. Still, a walk with Mulholland through the coming weeks may be a great way to consider and celebrate the great promises of transformation at the heart of our Easter Faith.