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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book!
Now this is a good book. A really good book. It is exactly the kind of book a reviewer loves to discover: A title from a minor publisher that arrives with little fanfare and completely blows him away. And that is what I found in An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness by Andrew Davis.

An Infinite Journey defies easy description. What exactly is it...
Published 10 months ago by Tim Challies

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bitter and sweet; not for me
Andrew M Davis
An Infinite Journey: Growing towards Christlikeness
Reviewed by John D Wilson

I have been reading An Infinite Journey by Andrew Davis, but I felt I should write a review.
This book is a mixture of bitter and sweet for me, and I am wrestling with some of the chapters, developing a love-hate relationship with the book. Overall, I...
Published 5 months ago by J. D. Wilson


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book!, February 18, 2014
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Now this is a good book. A really good book. It is exactly the kind of book a reviewer loves to discover: A title from a minor publisher that arrives with little fanfare and completely blows him away. And that is what I found in An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness by Andrew Davis.

An Infinite Journey defies easy description. What exactly is it? It is a book about growing toward spiritual maturity, but it is more than that; it is also a map for the journey. This makes it something like a systematic theology of spiritual growth and maturity. Allow me to explain.

Davis says that Christians are called by God to make two simultaneous journeys and that these journeys are the Christian’s central work. The first is the external journey of the worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations while the second is the internal journey from being dead in sin to being gloriously perfect in Christ. Each of these journeys is lifelong and demands great effort, labor and suffering. Each is infinite because they both require an infinite power source and because they will extend to the very end of our lives.

Davis contends that over the past decades Evangelicals have been far more concerned with the external journey than the internal one so that we have pursued evangelism at the expense of discipleship and sanctification. But, he says,

The Church needs to reclaim a Bible-saturated, Spirit-drenched emphasis on both of these infinite journeys, learning that they are absolutely intertwined. It is impossible for the Church to make progress externally to the ends of the earth if there are no Christians mature enough to pay the price to go as missionaries and martyrs. And it is impossible to make genuine progress in sanctification if the people only read good Christians books and stay in classrooms, but refuse to get out into the world as witnesses. These journeys are mutually interdependent: without progress in one, there can be no progress made in the other.

What Davis attempts to do in this book, and what he accomplishes with rare skill, is to map out the journey, focusing on the journey toward Christian maturity. He attempts to provide a taxonomy of sanctification, organizing what the Bible gives us as reasonable goals for spiritual growth. He believes that all of Christian maturity can be found under four major headings: Knowledge, Faith, Character, and Action. The heart of the book is explaining each of these while also showing the relationship between them.

Now this may all sound rather obvious, but Davis is especially skilled at looking at the things we commonly know or experience and describing and quantifying them in fresh and helpful ways. By way of example, in the book’s opening chapters he attempts to graph Christian progress. Acknowledging that any such illustration will suffer from some weakness and incompleteness, he still finds a very helpful way of helping us understand the peaks and valleys of Christian experience.

The book has other notable strengths. While it is not exhaustive (and hardly could be without extending to many volumes), it is substantial in its breadth. It is packed with excellent illustrations that both introduce and explain important topics. It is also bursting with heart and joy so that the author’s passion for his topic is contagious. Concluding case studies help show the theory in action while a chapter on application works toward implementing these things in the reader’s life.

If there is one section that I found weaker than the rest, it would be the section on how the Lord guides us. Davis speaks of God’s still small voice but I am not convinced that what he says here quite represents how the New Testament tells us to expect to hear from the Lord. What he says did not strike me as wrong as much as incomplete. I am also a little concerned about the book’s size, largely because its 31 chapters and 480 pages may make it a difficult book to read in community with others. It is an ideal resource for discipleship, but the 31 chapters make it rather a large commitment. That said, Davis has not wasted many words and the size of the topic demands a significant work.

An Infinite Journey is a very good book and one you should consider reading. Don Whitney has written up a short blurb and I would echo his words. “Besides the Bible, it would be difficult to find any other single resource with more biblically sound, theologically rich, pastorally helpful, and practical insight about Christian growth than this book.” It is a gift to the church and I heartily commend it to you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A diamond in the rough, February 19, 2014
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Kate (United States) - See all my reviews
Andrew Davis’ book, An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, is a real diamond in the rough.

I received a free copy for review from the publisher, Ambassador International, and to say that I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement.

Davis’ main premise is this: We are all on two infinite journeys – the external journey of the gospel’s advance to all nations, and the internal journey of sanctification (pp. 17-18). Davis points out that “these two journeys have one goal: ‘the praise of His glory’ (Ephesians 1:12, 14)” (p. 21).

Why are the two journeys called infinite? Not because they will never be accomplished, but because they both require the infinite power of God in order to take place.

An Infinite Journey is an attempt to organize the Bible’s teachings on sanctification. As outlined by the author, “… all of Christian maturity can be found under four major headings: Knowledge, Faith, Character, and Action” (p. 29).

Davis uses thorough precision to touch on a myriad of topics in each of these categories, and I found him to be a down-the-line, biblical thinker. It was refreshing to find a present-day author churning out such solid truth with equal conviction.

I was particularly challenged by this premise near the beginning of the book:

“The Church needs to reclaim a Bible-saturated, Spirit-drenched emphasis on both of these infinite journeys, learning that they are absolutely intertwined. It is impossible for the Church to make progress externally to the ends of the earth if there are no Christians mature enough to pay the price to go as missionaries and martyrs. And it is impossible to make genuine progress in sanctification if the people only read good Christian books and stay in classrooms, but refuse to get out into the world as witnesses. These journeys are mutually interdependent: without progress in one, there can be no progress made in the other” (p. 24).

A criticism I’ve read about the book is that its hefty length deters churches from being able to digest it piece by piece, as for a weekly Bible study. I understand how this could be a hindrance, but I don’t think that should be a reason for not using the book. To overcome this hurdle, perhaps one leader could read the whole book, highlight key premises for the group, and choose six or eight topics to focus on in depth for discussion purposes.

Another potential criticism could be a tendency to emphasize works over grace. Though the book is filled with things we are commanded by God to do, I believe the author would be the first to argue that none of these good works could ever be accomplished apart from the grace and strength of God. Towards the end of the book, I started to feel a bit heavy from the weight of all the requirements of Scripture on a believer, but then the Lord reminded me of Davis’ initial premise, that both of these infinite journeys require the infinite power of God.

An Infinite Journey is a book I would highly recommend not only to pastors and others in full-time ministry, but to laypeople as well. It is an extremely valuable resource, as it addresses nearly every conceivable component involved in the path of becoming more like Christ.

I would especially encourage missionaries, spiritual mentors and evangelists to obtain a copy, as it is a worthwhile tool for new believers seeking to navigate the forthcoming and lifelong journey of sanctification.

Though it is best read cover to cover, the book could also be useful as a topical reference to answer specific questions regarding certain aspects of the Christian life, such as emotions, self-reliance, or stewardship.

Thank you, Pastor Davis, for this gift to the Church at large. It is evident through your testimony that you are a man who walks the talk. May this book be used to encourage many in their growth toward Christlikeness, and may you see the fruit of your labor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my thinking... and my heart, January 26, 2014
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I loved this book. Easy to say. But I loved it for an odd reason. It wouldn't let me be. It kept confronting lies ... nudging me on to truth ... changing my perspective. This is not new information. I've taught it for years. But Davis paints a clear picture of sanctification that many miss today. I will be recommending this book when I speak about the value of our daily choices. Thank you for this scholarly, practical, totally biblical book. ~ Dawn, Heart Choices Ministries
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very Biblical, very practical outline for sanctification, January 29, 2014
An Infinite Journey is a fantastic read for anyone desiring to understand what it means to be increasingly conformed to Christ, which is something that all Christians are called to.

The book begins by outlining a process of sanctification: knowledge, faith, character, and action. It then delves deeply into each of these four, first by defining them based on scripture, and then describing how each one leads to the next. Finally, it describes how the cycle repeats itself in an "upward spiral".

It ends with a practical (but not legalistic) guide on how one might use this understanding of growing in Christ likeness to apply it to his or her daily life.

It is Biblically rich, theologically sound, and a great read for anyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a must read, March 4, 2014
This review is from: An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness (Paperback)
First off, I must admit that Andy Davis is my pastor, and that he is my friend. However, I was drawn to his ministry at First Baptist Church because he is the kind of man that can and should write a book like this. My appreciation of this book is due in part because it reflects the man who wrote it: kind, sensitive, earnest, faithful, passionate, a little nerdy and overly interested in details. He certainly isn't perfect, but the man that you hear speaking through this book is the same man I've seen in hours of interactions in and outside of church settings. This is authentic, he means it and he tries to live it (very well by my estimation).

The book is written clearly. Davis' model for sanctification is simple but not simplistic. Like a good engineer (he has a B.S. from MIT in mechanical engineering) Davis has created a model that describes the sanctification. It isn't a set of rules that guarantee personal holiness. Rather, Davis describes four parts of a cycle: Knowledge - Faith - Character - Action. As a Christian grown in Christ, she continues through this cycle in an upward spiral moving closer and closer to holiness. There is no standing still, one is either moving toward holiness or away from it.

Davis manages to accomplish what some have determined to be impossible. He is a PhD in Church History and a Mechanical Engineer. He is smart and loves facts. The man has memorized many (yes, many) entire books of the Bible and Scripture flavors almost everything he says from the pulpit and in conversation. Still, his head knowledge does not result in spiritual stagnation because Knowledge results in Faith that must be implemented to develop Character from which habitual Action flows. The cycle begins in Knowledge, but it moves through a robust Action that provides experiential Knowledge that continues the cycle into Faith. Davis provides this model, along with some important keys to implementing each stage, but without a set of rules that indicate that one must read the Bible 30 minutes each day and memorize 2 verses each week, while helping 2 old ladies across the street in order to become holy. This is practical but not legalistic.

If there is a weakness to this book, it is that the book is very long. At 400+ pages of text it is an imposing book to pick up and read. It will take some time to read and digest. However, the work is worth it. Additionally, the chapters are short and there is a clear outline so that there are plenty of good stopping places along the way. The reader should also know that it used to be over six hundred pages and was cut down to the present length. This means that Davis cut out the fluff (and some good meat, too) so that there isn't much repetition if any in the book.

Buy it. Read it. You'll find it a blessing, I promise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful book, January 17, 2014
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An Infinite Journey is the product of Dr. Davis' biblical acumen and his pastoral heart. It is filled with both sound doctrine and practical application. Those who want to grow in consistency and intentionality in their walk with Christ should definitely read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING!!!, March 3, 2014
An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness is a new book by Dr. Andrew Davis, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Durham, NC, that seeks to help readers grow in their Christian walk. When I first picked up the book I read the endorsements on the back and front I was immediately intrigued. D.A. Carson said of this book, "Christians who want to be increasingly conformed to Christ will cherish this book." That is a great endorsement, but Don Whitney added to it saying, "Besides the Bible, it would be difficult to find any other single resource with more biblically sound, theologically rich, pastorally helpful, and practical insight about Christian growth than this book." With those two endorsements the bar was set high for this book before I even cracked open the cover. The question is: Does it deliver the way these endorsements state? My first thought when I read Whitney's comment was: Seriously?!? Out of all the books through the centuries that deal with Christian growth he thinks it would be difficult to find one better than Davis' new book? After SLOWLY (slowly because my highlighter got quite a work out) reading through this book I must say that I am in agreement with Don Whitney. An Infinite Journey is simply outstanding. I didn't even get half way through before I started recommending it to people. It is a very thorough look at the Christian life that will no doubt be a resource for me for years to come, and will definitely be re-read.

Davis divides An Infinite Journey into 6 sections. They are: 1) Understanding Salvation's Infinite Journey 2) Knowledge 3) Faith 4) Character 5) Action 6) The K-F-C-A (Knowledge-Faith-Character-Action) Understood and Applied In the first section Davis begins by laying the groundwork for a proper understanding of salvation and our works. If we put the cart before the horse we end up working really hard to get to God, something we simply cannot accomplish. A proper understanding of "Our Great Salvation" leads to growth in Christlikeness, not to earn God's favor, but because we have been made a new creation and are fully justified in the sight of God.

The meat of this book comes in the middle four sections: Knowledge, Faith, Character and Action. Davis begins with knowledge, because without knowledge gained from Scripture we are void of any understanding of who God is, so we certainly cannot know what it meant to have faith and walk in His ways. Knowledge leads to faith, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Faith produces a character change as we conform to Christ which then manifest itself in external actions in our life. This roadmap for our infinite journey towards Christlikeness rightly places God's Word and His power as the source for our change. Davis rightly states, "transformation only comes by immersing the mind in the word of God, allowing it to wash over our thoughts, until gradually we have learned to thing as Christ does....we are to train our brains to think in new ways, patterned after Christ and after all the new things he is doing and will do in our salvation."

I was very blessed by Davis' examination of five different areas of our character. He provides a helpful look at our affections (what you love/hate), our desire (what you seek), our will (what you chose/reject), our thoughts (what you think about), and our emotions (what you feel). Each chapter is soaked in sound biblical thought that encourages the reader to grow in Christlikeness. Even in the section that focuses on our actions, Davis doesn't leave the reader feeling weighed down with a to-do list. Instead this book encourages Christians to pursue godliness and to work hard as Christ works in us. At 475 pages this is a very thorough work, but it is definitely worth buying and walking though. I would highly recommend this to every Christian. This book is a must have for believers who desire to grow in the Lord.

I received a free copy of this book from Ambassador International in exchange for an honest review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, January 30, 2014
The best explanation of, and motivation towards, pursuing the likeness of Christ (sanctification) I have ever read. Thorough, compelling, biblical, accessible - a classic.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bitter and sweet; not for me, July 9, 2014
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This review is from: An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness (Paperback)
Andrew M Davis
An Infinite Journey: Growing towards Christlikeness
Reviewed by John D Wilson

I have been reading An Infinite Journey by Andrew Davis, but I felt I should write a review.
This book is a mixture of bitter and sweet for me, and I am wrestling with some of the chapters, developing a love-hate relationship with the book. Overall, I think I like it and for a moment I think I would recommend it, then I read something which I find unsettles me. Just when I think, I will give this to my friend _______, I read something which I think would be counter-productive
There are parts which I like, other parts are frustrating me by phrases with seem imprecise or unclear (though on the whole it is well written and engaging); sometimes questionable exegesis (Greek vocabulary often has a wide range of meaning, so must be interpreted according to its use in context which may not be the dominant meaning); and perhaps the greatest weakness is a lack of spelled-out role of the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. and how by faith and repentance we walk with the Spirit, and participate in his work in our lives.
What are the strengths?
1. An Infinite Journey is thorough and comprehensive. Theologically, it looks at the whole work of salvation (including sanctification) in considerable detail—maybe in overwhelming detail for some. This is a BIG book, and I know several people who I think might benefit by reading it; but I know they would give up before the end.
But if someone were to make the effort to read this book, they would learn a lot about Christian fundamentals and holy living.
2. Knowledge of Scripture. It rightly integrates body, soul and mind, emphasizing the role of the mind in knowing the truths of Scripture as necessary to the process of sanctification. Too often contemporary views of Christianity are more about the subjective spirit (heart) of a person—the heart divorced from the mind. I felt John Eldred has slipped into this. I mean the very subjective “listening to God” in the heart, and not with the mind, as if the heart is to be trusted. The mind is the heart, and it needs renewing.
3. The practicality of much of what he writes. I like that he starts with the simple fact of the of knowledge, and particularly the knowledge which we can learn from Scripture, which becomes the fuel for sanctification.
I found this very powerful in an age of non-use of the Bible even among evangelical Christians. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada just completed a survey of “Bible Engagement” in Canada, and the statistics are astonishing. If i recall correctly, only 7% of evangelical Christians read the Bible daily. This has been reinforced for me this week when along with the pastor and another elder we interviewed two fine Christian people who had been nominated to be appointed as elders. In both cases the Biblical knowledge was abysmal, and neither could describe what they understood by the terms atonement, justification and sanctification. They are “heart” Christians in ignorance. Davis addresses these issues.
4. The book is quite methodical—almost “mechanical;”, and this will appeal to many readers who find abstract theological concepts very hard to comprehend in a way that seems practical. His graphs (and I appreciate how he emphasizes the limitations of any graph) do help make the elements explicit.
5. I felt the book is a kind of balance to pietistic kinds of approach to sanctification, which emphasize that our salvation is totally from God by His Spirit.
By emphasizing that sanctification is a work of the Spirit (which I agree with wholly), there is the possibility of implying the Christian personally has no conscious part to play. Where does the “put off” and “put on” in Ephesians fit in as part of the process of sanctification and holiness. I am convinced that a believer does have an active participatory role in his/her sanctification, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I think this book leans to that participatory role too; but is weak regarding teaching on the role of the Spirit!
What are its weaknesses?
1. For me An Infinite Journey is too systematic and detailed. I recognize that this is a personal and subjective preference of my reading and study. But there were times when I was reading that I felt it lacks the organic feel of life in Christ. He is a mechanical engineer by training, and that is how the book sometimes came across to me: that sanctification is a system. You need to have well machined parts, assemble them properly according to the handbook, and everything should run smoothly.
2. In some places he almost seems to deify Scripture as the power behind salvation and sanctification, even though he is always quick to refer to the Holy Spirit, it sounds like lip service. I like his strong view of Scripture; but (as I heard in a sermon a couple of Sundays ago), we must keep the Word and the Spirit together.
3. On some topics he takes a precise position which is contentious, such as the moments of justification and glorification. I understand his perspectives, and I think he has that kind of definitive view because of his mechanical mind. Theologically, we are saved, justified and sanctified in Christ from before the foundation of the world! For me the moment of conversion and the experience of justification in personal experience are imprecise.
He also makes final justification at the precise moment of death, but his argument is not convincing. I think we are justified when Christ returns. But I wouldn’t quibble over these; I would just prefer him to be more flexible—but it is his graphics which require nice points in time. Better to be a little bit ambiguous on matters of theological contention.
4. His theology of the Holy Spirit in sanctification is weak. He does indeed refer to the role of the Spirit in one-liners (e.g. pp 96-97; 111; 280) but he never expands on this and I feel he is less than practical about it, while he is very explicit about so many other things. For me, in discipleship, the Word and the Spirit must be kept together. I said this already; but this is the flip side. Evangelicals tend to pay lip service to the Spirit. He is always in our credal statements; but Evangelicals have tended to be biblicist. Charismatics have often gone the other way, giving lip service to the importance of Scripture and over-emphasizing to the point of error the role of the Spirit—becoming very experiential and subjective, until you are not sure whose spirit they are talking about.
There is a weight-loss guru in Canada whose catchphrase is something like this: “If you could do it alone, you would have done it already.” I feel that is the case for many Christian disciples—they neglect their need of the Holy Spirit and the community of the body of Christ. We need the Spirit’s empowerment in the context of the support and accountability of the community of believers.
I could say much more, but this for me is one of the great weaknesses of the book.
5. In one place (p 147-150 passim) he almost seems to be propounding a doctrine of merit. I think he is not; but I can imagine a Muslim or Buddhist convert or a Roman Catholic reading it this way.
6. In a number of places he makes an unusual interpretation of the Greek and I think he is even misleading or tangential in his interpretation.
For example I think he misinterprets “evidence” on pages 154-159; he misses the theological meaning and differentiation of passages which talk about hate vs love (chapter 11); I think he is off track about “prepared” works in Ephesians 2 (pages 287-291), which are about the walk described in Ephesians 4-6; not tasks set by God to be accomplished for God day by day; and I think he takes the wrong semantic meaning of “present” in Romans 12:1-2 (pages 293-294).
7. The Charts are quite useful (but as he says have their limitations). One very obvious limitation in my view is the cycle he makes out of these charts. It is not a mechanical process; we are not engineers building a machine with components in a specific order. We are organic human beings made in the image of God, and most of these components are living processes and inter-connected in a dynamic way—more like quantum physics than mechanical engineering!

In Summary
This clearly is a book of great value. It charts (rather than maps out) the components of salvation and sanctification in a kind of systematic theology, and could prove very useful to pastors and disciple makers to help them in covering the ground which will help them to help young believers grow in “the grace and knowledge” of Jesus Christ.
In that regard it is probably needed in many churches where (clearly from my own recent experiences) godly Christian young people are living experientially (having come to know Christ in a real way), but without the resource of knowledge of sound doctrine, because they do not engage the Scriptures and often do not open their lives to the empowering and transforming (sanctifying) Spirit of God.
Is it suitable for young Christian disciples to read?
Here I am more hesitant. Young Christians today want “Christian reading lite”; not solid books on systematic theology (or, apparently, even the Bible itself). There are people I might give this too; but some for sure would dip into it and give up; others would even misread and misapprehend it. But I believe there are many north Americans who will be drawn to the meticulous and methodical way of charting out sanctification. Some would find it misleading and confusing.
In the Myers-Briggs assessment, I am an INTP (with some F and even some J). I think this book will appeal to North American people in the much more inclusive STJ camp—but not necessarily! Human beings are much more complex than that; and readers in general are often quite different in their tastes. One person’s book is poison to another.
Prior to attending Bible College I was training as a Quantity Surveyor. We took the architect’s plans, analyzed them and broke down the different components of construction into different categories, then drew up and costed out the various materials in a “schedule of quantities” including providing a specification about the kinds and quality of the materials to be used in the construction.
An un-costed version of the schedule of quantities was given to a selection of contractors who used this to figure out their costs and offer a tender for the contract. Not always the cheapest tender was taken—perhaps because the costing was economically too tight and might end up being over budget; but another might be rejected because the contractor was clearly out to make excessive profit.
My point is that An Infinite Journey is like the detailed schedule of quantities based on the Architect’s plan. It is very detailed. The author has read the Architect’s plan with great attention to the intention of the Designer, and now laid it out in a precise and detailed schedule.
The architect, the surveyor and the contractor all can read and make sense of the schedule of quantities; but a layman would be bored reading it. When I started my apprenticeship it didn’t make much sense to me, but I learned to read an architect’s plan and understood the nature and purpose of the schedule. But it really came alive when I was on site with my supervising Surveyor, and I could see the building going up according to the plan (or not) and using the specified materials (or not). And that was part of our job: to monitor the construction and ensure the constructor and his staff were not cheating in any way, by changing dimensions, or using lower qualities of materials.
I think that An Infinite Journey by Andrew Davis is more like a schedule of quantities for the pastor and disciple maker. The lay person has to be taken on site, and have it all explained and learned more informally and organically!
An Infinite Journey is basically a kind of systematic theology—cum—curriculum of discipleship; but I think in the contemporary era a different approach that is less obviously systematic, while still biblically correct would be more useful. It comes down to the issue of how we teach doctrine today through narrative and real life examples, and including some interactive materials; or better yet, personal discipleship by mature Christians backed up by small group studies and occasional training events as needed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and wide, February 15, 2014
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One of the most comprehensive treatments of the doctrine of sanctification available today. Doctrinal, pastoral, readable and prayerfully liveable - inward and outward.
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An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness
An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness by Dr. Andrew M. Davis (Paperback - January 10, 2014)
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