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Christian counselor and popular author Larry Crabb took the trouble to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. But now he believes that in today's church, therapy should be replaced by another, more ancient practice—"spiritual direction."

This is one of the classical Christian spiritual disciplines Crabb and others from a wide variety of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox backgrounds are examining and recommending anew in a biannual journal, Conversations: A Forum for Authentic Transformation, just launched this Spring.

Crabb is not the only modern Protestant digging into this historical mode of spiritual growth. Jeannette Bakke, author of Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction (Baker, 2000) said in a Christianity Today interview, "Evangelicals are listening for God in ways that are different from our usual understanding of discipleship. We are looking at many Christian disciplines, including prayer, silence and solitude, discernment, journaling, and others. … Spiritual direction is one of these disciplines many evangelical Christians are learning about and exploring."

What is spiritual direction?


Spiritual direction is a voluntary relationship between a person who seeks to grow in the Christian life and a director. The latter is not, notice, a counselor or therapist. Rather, he or she is a mature Christian who helps the directee both to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing and saying and to act on that discernment, drawing nearer to God in Christ.

The focus is on intimacy with God, not on the solving of clinically identified psychological problems. The whole sinful orientation of the self, not any particular dysfunction, is the "problem" to be addressed. The director helps directees identify ways they have sought satisfaction ...

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April 2003

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