Sacred Pathways

Sacred Pathways

A few months ago I skimmed a book called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas, which is about discovering your soul’s path to God. It’s not advocating a “do what’s good for you” spirituality; I wouldn’t read such rubbish. Rather, it acknowledges that there are different spiritual temperaments and it’s quite foolish to think that a one-size-fits-all approach to worshiping God will work. The nine temperaments are as follows:

Temperaments

Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors
Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
Traditionalists: Loving God Through Ritual and Symbol
Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
Activists: Loving God Through Confrontation
Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
Contemplatives: Loving God Through Adoration
Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind

Thomas points out that, of course, Sensates are not excused from studying, Intellectuals are not excused from social justice, and Contemplatives are not excused from loving others, etc. But not everybody will be a Mother Teresa, Jim Wallis, Hudson Taylor, Annie Dillard, Billy Graham, or N.T. Wright. Everybody has a certain temperament (some have more than one) so it’s not fair to insist that everybody read their Bible at a desk every morning and go to a Baptist church every Sunday. Some people insist on this because that is their temperament and thus everybody else must follow suit. Thomas says that it’s natural to find spiritually empty people outside of church, but it’s another thing to find spiritually empty people inside the church. Discovering your spiritual temperament may be the channel that you need to worship God the way that he made you.

Again, though, I very much appreciate his balance. He says,

“I must admit, there is a limit to the individual approach to spirituality. It is neither wise nor scriptural to pursue God apart from the community of faith. Our individual expressions of faith must be joined to corporate worship with the body of Christ.”

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