History of Spiritual Formation – DSMN 860

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/07/2021

Course Description

This course is an examination of the historical practices of spiritual formation throughout the life of the church. Focused on primary materials, this course will explore salient themes related to spiritual formation through the lens of discipline, theology, and practice. 

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


A doctoral education in ministry and spiritual formation must necessarily introduce students to the historical practices and seminal works within the field. This course will orient students to the spiritual formation practices, writings, and theology of stalwarts such as Augustine, Owen, and Edwards, among others.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the theological frameworks of those who have contributed to the field of the history of spiritual formation.
  2. Evaluate the spiritual disciplines of practitioners in the history of spiritual formation.
  3. Examine movements and eras within the history of the church as they relate to Christian spirituality and practice.
  4. Translate historical practices of spiritual formation to present realities.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (3)

In these Discussions, you are asked to share research tools and resources for researching history projects. You are also asked to reflect on the Reformers and their understanding of spiritual formation. Additionally, you will be asked to complete a final discussion thread in which you reflect on course experience. (MLO: A)

Memo Assignments

In each module, you must complete a Memo that is based on the assigned prompts. Integrate course reading and course videos as appropriate. Write as much as you need to fully address the scope of the prompt. (MLOs: B, C, D).

Spiritual Assessment Assignment

You will complete a three-part Spiritual Assessment of 1,000–1,250 words. Each part will direct you toward an assessment of your spiritual life in its current form. You will use the results of this assignment as a basis to plan, pro-actively, areas of life where you need to consider in order to focus your spiritual growth. (MLO: D)

History Project Assignments

You will complete four history projects focusing on conducting independent research on theologians and a theology related to spiritual formation. For this assignment, you will choose one theological topic related to sanctification or spiritual formation. You will then situate the theological positions of four different theologians on this topic (four theologians for each of the four projects). This is not a full-blown research paper, but an information literacy project that requires you to identify sources (primary and secondary) that clarify the theologians’ nuances on this particular theological topic. The same topic will be explored in the theology of all sixteen theologians. (MLO: A)