Spiritual Development and the Epistemology of Systems Theory

Volume 31
Summer 2003
Spiritual Development and the Epistemology of Systems Theory

Based on systems theory, especially the contributions of Gregory Bateson, the concepts of first-, second-, and third-order change will be presented as a potential framework for conceptualizing spiritual development. The relevance of these concepts to the spiritual process of 12-step recovery will be explored, followed by an application to Christian spirituality. It will be suggested that one way of understanding Jesus'€™ teachings is to view them as addressed to a culture mired in first-order strategies of change. In attempting to introduce a Kingdom based on radically different principles, Jesus made use of paradoxes, reframes, parables, and metaphors as techniques through which the second- and third-order change necessary for an experience of Kingdom life could be facilitated. Specifically, it is the epistemological shifts characteristic of second- and third-order change that are considered constitutive of spiritual development. If these epistemological changes reflect new ways of perceiving, based on the principles of the Kingdom of God as espoused by Jesus, then spiritual development from a Christian perspective could be said to have occurred.

B. Buker
143 - 153
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