Defining Spirituality

The word ‘spirituality’ on its own can be taken to refer to the spiritual side of our life, leaving aside the question of whether there actually is a God of any sort. In contrast, we are concerned with Christian spirituality. This is much more precise. It is all about our relationship with God the Father, whom we come to through Jesus his Son, united in the Holy Spirit.

The contemporary use of the word ‘spirituality’ is sometimes vague and difficult to define precisely because it is increasingly detached from religious traditions and specifically from its roots in Christianity.  Yet, despite the fuzziness, it is possible to suggest that the word ‘spirituality’ refers to the deepest values and meanings by which people seek to live.  In other words ‘spirituality’ implies some kind of vision of the human spirit and of what will assist it to achieve full potential. Christianity is the original source of the word. In Christian terms, spirituality refers to the way our fundamental values, life styles and spiritual practices reflect particular understandings of God, human identity, and the material world as the context of human transformation.

Extract from Introduction: What is Spirituality? – A Brief History of Spirituality’ by Philip Sheldrake (2007) Blackwell Publishing, p.3