Spiritual formation in desert terrain: Insights into Holy Spirit patterns of wilderness training.
LE3 .A278 2017
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This thesis explores the idea that wilderness or desert-like environments are key components God uses in the spiritual formation of His people. These are times in life we associate with words such as dry, empty, struggle, hardship, and pain. Time spent in such conditions often surprise and confuse God’s people, particularly those whose worldviews are shaped by Western values and thought patterns. The Holy Spirit’s usage of wilderness or desert-like conditions as a means to transform the lives of His peopleis not a new thought. What this study considers is whether the wilderness training patterns we observe in the books of Exodus and Numbers might illustrate spiritual formation patterns the Holy Spirit continues to use today. The desert environment, with its ability to put pressure on people, was perfectly suited to exposing the problem areas that lurked within their hearts. The difficulties and demands of desert life brought to the surface what they really believed about themselves, about God, and about the world around them. It also was an ideal location for them to learn by experience what God’s greatness and goodness looked like. The spiritual formation patterns of Exodus and Numbers are then compared to the patterns we observe in the rest of the Scriptures; the theological reflections of the Church; and the insights of a team of pastors, missionaries, and college professors. Comparisons and contrasts are made and some conclusions are drawn. The evidence suggests the Holy Spirit still continues to lead His people into desert terrain as part of the sanctification process by which He makes them holy.
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