by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
I keep throwing around a few cryptic terms when I discuss spirituality. Here’s a few definitions:
Askesis – Greek word, to do one’s best, to endeavor, to apply rigors to our living. Discipline.
Asceticism – the doctrine of askesis, that is, the study of spirituality. It is interesting to me that though I ran across this word I was never taught much about asceticism. I think this is because Evangelicals were so scared of its history since it comes from the desert fathers, monks and mystics. Also, Reformer Martin Luther and the other Reformers threw out the monasteries, and therefore most of the spirituality of asceticism and replaced it with information and doctrinal disciplines. Martin Thornton called ascetical theology “the technique of loving God.”
Exercitant – one who exercises spiritual disciplines. (pronounce it by just ignoring the first “t” – X-er-sant)
Contemplative – Eugene Peterson said that contemplation is imagination, and meditation is means study. By “imagination” he means that we should pick up the Bible’s story and put ourselves into the story – the story continues with our lives. To meditate means we study to find out what the text meant back then; but contemplation means we start the text’s story where history left off.
That’ll do for now – too many terms and we’ll choke our brains!