Spiritual Directors International (SDI) is an interspiritual “learning community committed to advancing spiritual direction around the world” with a membership that “consists of people from many nations and many faiths.” According to SDI, spiritual direction is “the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life,” and they respond “to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.
Ray Yungen discusses SDI in A Time of Departing:
To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let’s look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented: This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the director’s role in a person’s move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying. One of the objectives of SDI is “Tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”
While it is evident that SDI believes outside of the scope that salvation can only be found through Jesus Christ according to the Bible, it is interesting to note the wide variety of Christian denominations that are represented by SDI:
A membership list showed 531 Episcopalians, 223 Presbyterians, 201 United Methodists, 154 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,355 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so “traditions,” the total was nearly 5000. To show the nature of just what they mean by “across traditions” the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga,and even Pagan/Wiccan (A Time of Departing, 2nd ed. p.41).
An older Christianity Today article, “Got Your Spiritual Director Yet?,” confirms two things, one that spiritual direction is contemplative, and two that it is becoming a part of evangelical Christianity. The article explains that popular Christian author Larry Crabb changed his views. Once a believer in psychology he switched to spiritual direction.
The article credits contemplatives (mystics) such as John Cassian and Ignatius of Loyola for getting spiritual direction into the church and suggests that we can learn more about it from Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard – with this we completely agree. As Rick Warren stated in his book, Purpose Driven Church, Foster and Willard are key players in the Spiritual Formation movement, but while Warren says that this movement is a vital wake up call for the church, we say it is a terrible seduction for the church.