I began this series with a personal reflection on the need for an approach to Christianity that is “big enough to encompass all of my own experiences, but also the highs and lows, successes and failures, and future potential of the Christian tradition.” Over the past few posts, I have introduced the basic elements of the Integral framework and how I believe they are helpful in developing just such an approach. Now it’s time to put the pieces together.
I introduced the ‘basics’ of Integral theory — quadrants, lines of development, stages and states of consciousness, and types — as separate elements, but they function closely together as a system. If we put them together, we get something like a framework in the diagram below:
As in any good system, each of the particular elements reinforces and supports the others. So, an Integral approach to spirituality involves the experience and practice of growth and appreciation of complexity for the whole person, and every kind of person, in all relationships and in every area of life.
I like to summarize the framework in this sort of way because, while I think the framework is helpful, I am less concerned with the particularities of its individual elements than with the values that they, and the whole system, point to. In the early days of this blog I identified four core Integral values, and I think they remain a helpful summary. An Integral approach is:
- Holistic: An approach that examines every issue, concept, or thing from as many different perspectives as possible, with as many relationships as possible in mind, and applying what we learn to every area of life.
- Inclusive: An approach that recognizes that every step forward involves an acceptance of greater complexity and diversity.
- Growth-Oriented: An approach that understands that we are called to grow not only into adulthood, but throughout all our adult life as well.
- Integrating: An approach that appreciates that each stage of life and cultural expression brings with it its own unique gifts that we must bring with us even as we continue to grow.
This brings this first series of posts on Integral Christianity to a close. In the future, I’d like to do further series exploring the consequences of the model for Christian life and practice including: question of how we grow, and what traditional Christian theological concepts, such as healing, salvation, and faith, look like within this understanding of the world.
For further reading right now, check out:
- The annotated bibliography for the series
- The older series on an Integral Hermeneutic, and the posts in which I’ve applied this method to specific texts:
- The last few posts in the Knowing God series, which brought the series together using the Integral, multi-perspectival approach:
- God in Three Perspectives
- God as Other: God in Second Person
- Jesus and the Second-Person Perspective of God
- God Within: God in First Person
- Jesus and the First-Person Perspective of God
- Everywhere Present and Filling All Things: God in Third Person
- Jesus and the Third-Person Perspective of God
- Being, Following, and Seeing Christ