A Comprehensive Theory of Spirituality: Humanistic, Theist, and Theotic

Daniel A. Helminiak(1*)

(1) University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia, United States
(*) Corresponding Author


Especially among the Abrahamic religions, quite regularly spirituality implies a relationship with God or else some other supposed “sacred” entities or forces. This starting point precludes a fully psychological explanation of spirituality since appeal to God exceeds the methodology of the social or human sciences: Psychology is not theology. In contrast, a traditional Christian axion holds that "grace builds on nature." Accordingly, recognize that a dimension of the human mind itself—consciousness or human spirit—is first and foremost the source and object of spiritual experiences. Then the natural becomes fundamental, theoretically the essential, and at its roots spirituality lies within the competence of human study, and religious accounts are further elaborations. This proposition is the thesis of this article. Following the trenchant analyses of Bernard Lonergan, this account recognizes human consciousness or spirit as a dynamic dimension of the mind, self-present, out-going, self-transcending, open-ended, geared to reality, and normative: These requisites inherent in consciousness orient a person toward the true and the good. Then personal integration and spiritual growth coincide—in this way: Psychotherapeutic healing frees the spirit to increasingly take the lead and guide one’s living, constituting one as “a spiritual person.” The specification of consciousness/spirit contrasts with other mental content—emotions, memory, imagery—and suggests a tripartite human model (organism, psyche, and consciousness) in place of the standard bipartite model (body and mind). Such a naturalistic starting point easily supports religious elaboration, seeing God as Creator (theology) and envisioning union with God (theotics). This theory foresees the collaboration of the world's religions in acknowledging a common spiritual foundation for themselves and for our pluralistic secular society.


Bernard J. F.; Consciousness; deification; Human spirit; Lonergan; Psychology of spirituality.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15575/kt.v5i2.21587


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