Call for Papers
We invite proposals for papers for an academic conference which will reflect on the accomplishments of the modern spiritual formation movement and seek to set a vision for its future.
The spiritual formation movement has charted an unconventional path. From its inception it has been built on genuinely groundbreaking academic theses in philosophy, theology, and the human sciences. Authors in this movement foresaw the turn to praxis several decades before those concepts would become mainstream in all three disciplines; they recognized the salience of concepts like habit and “indirect effort” for overcoming critical dualities between mind and body, thought and lived experience; they held to metaphysical and epistemic realism in a period when such ideas were deeply unfashionable, only to have the broader academic guilds catch up with them several decades later.
For all of this sophistication, much of the power of the movement has come from the fact that many of spiritual formation’s key proponents seem to have maintained as first priority the actual practices of soul formation themselves, first in their own lives and then derivatively in those that they aided in the craft. As Aristotle says, “We do not study ethics to know what virtue is, but so that we may become good.” In this way, the movement never succumbed to the dichotomies between elite discourse and broader culture which continue to haunt our society, instead finding a way to use the treasures of academic learning to aid an entire generation of Christians toward maturity.
The conference will celebrate key contributions to the movement, including particularly the 40th anniversary of Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster (who will offer a keynote) and the 30th anniversary of The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.
The conference also aims to look to the future. In framing its key principles, the chief shapers of the movement including Foster, Willard and others were seeking not to pass on a new set of dogmas, but to inspire themselves and others into inquiry regarding the practices by which one’s own basic nature can come into attunement with God. We seek to consolidate and amplify precisely that spirit of inquiry, hoping to stimulate robust discussion and debate about the future of this endeavor. Discussion will be configured around the following themes:
- The body, habit, and the disciplines
- The hiddenness of life with God
- The disappearance of moral knowledge
- Transforming union with Christ
- Atonement and formation
- Spiritual formation, academic curriculum, and student development
We invite participants in the conference to help shape the future of the movement and are accepting proposals of two types.
First, we have numerous slots for shorter traditional academic papers of 10 minutes, with 5 minutes of question time. Abstracts of 200 words should relate to one of the six emphases listed above.
Secondly, we are offering opportunities to lead seminars of 30 minutes for audiences of 20-30. These sessions will serve as key forums for discussion and debate about the future of the movement. The time could be configured in any way the presenter sees fit, but we would encourage roughly 15 minutes of presentation on a topic of relevant expertise, alongside 15 minutes of moderated discussion. Proposals of 400 words should also relate to one of the six emphases noted above.
In both cases, presenters will be offered the opportunity to submit their papers to peer review for possible inclusion in an envisioned conference volume.
The deadline for submission is December 4 and notifications of acceptance will be sent by December 15 so that presenters can take advantage of the early booking rate which closes January 8.
All proposals should be sent to along with a short biography (<100 words) using the form below.
Any questions on paper submissions should be sent using the questions form below.
Paper Proposal Submissions