With All Your Heart, Soul, Wi-Fi, and Websites

Stephen Lowe offers a biblical defense of online spiritual formation.

Over the course of 30 years, the internet has inundated our lives, changing the way we access information, discover music, and shop for groceries. But has it also added a new medium for spiritual transformation?

Stephen and Mary Lowe address this question in Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth through Online Education. For over two decades, the Lowes have witnessed the evolution of online education as they helped launch Erskine Theological Seminary’s first online program in the late ’90s. In 2015, the Lowes left Erskine to share their expertise with the Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University, where Stephen now serves as the graduate chair of doctoral programs and Mary as the associate dean for online programs. The Lowes believe an interconnected view of ecologies can provide clarity—and hope—to those who remain skeptical of the transformative power of disembodied words.

Mark Galli, CT editor in chief, recently spoke with Stephen about his experience in online Christian higher education and how it can also be a tool for spiritual formation.

In thinking about forming spiritual lives or spiritual growth, what do you mean when you use the term spiritual formation?

Spiritual formation has to do with whole-person transformation into the fullness of Christ—borrowing that language from Paul in Ephesians 4. It’s a combination of this vertical connection that we have to Christ and the Spirit and the horizontal connection we have to other members of the body of Christ. Those all work together to form us individually and corporately into this image of Christ in all of its fullness and beauty.

So for you, spiritual formation has a corporate texture, not just an individual one. …

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