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Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, December 24, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

When Richard Foster began writing Celebration of Discipline more than 20 years ago, an older writer gave him a bit of advice: "Be sure that every chapter forces the reader into the next chapter." Foster took the advice to heart; as a result, his book presents one of the most compelling and readable visions of Christian spirituality published in the past few decades. After beginning with a simple observation--"Superficiality is the curse of our age.... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people"--Foster's book moves to explain the disciplines people must cultivate in order to achieve spiritual depth. In succinct, urgent, and sometimes humorous chapters, Foster defines a broad range of classic spiritual disciplines in terms that are lucid without being too limiting and offers advice that's practical without being overly prescriptive. For instance, after describing meditation as a combination of "intense intimacy and awful reverence," he settles into such down-to-earth topics as how to choose a place and a posture in which to meditate.

Perhaps most interesting and useful is Foster's chapter on the controversial Christian discipline of submission. According to Foster, submission does not demand self-hatred or loss of identity. Instead, it simply means growing secure in the conviction that "our happiness is not dependent on getting what we want" but on the fulfillment that naturally flows from love of one's neighbors. Such wise and encouraging suggestions have helped many readers to discard the idea that discipline is an onerous duty and to move toward a liberating and simpler idea of discipline--whose defining character, as Foster never forgets, is joy. --Michael Joseph Gross


“If everybody in the country could read—and heed—this book, what a difference it would make to the planet.” (Madeleine L'Engle)

“Foster has challenged us to see Christian faith … as a life of spiritual transformation.” (Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian)

“Foster has taught me more about prayer and living faithfully than just about any other living author.” (Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God)

“This seminal work on the practice of spiritual disciplines is never outdated.” (Relevant Magazine)

“Richard Foster has given us a rare gift... The celebration of each discipline in this book hands us a tool that can be useful in helping us to integrate our inner and outer lives.” (Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., author of A Tree Full of Angels)

“The best modern book on Christian spirituality..... No other book apart from the Bible has been so helpful to me in the nurturing of my inward journey of prayer and spiritual growth.” (Ronald J. Sider, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action)

Product Details

  • Series: 10th Anniversary edition (Book 988)
  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; 3rd edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060628391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060628390
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (529 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

493 of 549 people found the following review helpful By Zossima on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a Christian classic. Foster has written a comprehensive guide to spiritual disciplines. It is deep, yet accessible. Most of the reviews here agree with that.
I've read this book 5 times in 8 years. I've been in churches where multiple people were reading it at the same time. I've been in small groups where everyone read it together. I've seen mature Christians read it. I've seen new Christians read it. And I've concluded that THIS BOOK CAN BE DANGEROUS.
The reason I say that is that even in the most non-legalistic churches I've ever seen, I've seen immature Christians stumble in part because they are overwhelmed by everything in this book. And when I say "stumble", I'm talking about people going back into severely addictive lifestyles. And the pressure they felt from feeling like they have to do all these disciplines contributed to that.
Unfortunately, it's easy for any of us to filter even the most well-intentioned, well-written book through our false self, that part of us that is performance- and fear-oriented. Spiritual disciplines do not change us; they open our hearts to the change that the Spirit of God wants to bring.
Again, I think this is a phenomenal book. But lest we feed our heads instead of our hearts and lest we frustrate ourselves with a standard of righteousness that Foster never intended, I'd like to humbly, humbly suggest some things:
* I personally recommend that people start with Henri Nouwen's "Way of the Heart" for a primer on spiritual discipline. It is just much simpler. The big stuff can come later. (Other books by Merton, Nouwen, Keating, etc., will work just as well.
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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Cameron B. Clark VINE VOICE on January 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I first discovered "Celebration of Discipline" through Terry Glaspey's "Great Books of the Christian Tradition." Glaspey listed Foster's book as one of the top ten (cream-of-the-crop) books that every Christian ought to read and know. His opinion is obviously shared by many others as shown in Christianity Today's listing of "Celebration of Discipline" as one of the top twenty most influential books of the 20th century. Why is the book so influential? Because it gives Christians important and practical details regarding the scriptural key (self-discipline) to living a holy life which is the door to true liberty in all its facets. The 12 spiritual disciplines he expounds on, if faithfully practiced, will lead to inward and outward harmony (wholeness; holiness) with oneself as well as social harmony with others both within and without (as an evangelistic light) the corporate body of Christ. Four disciplines are allotted to each one of the spheres (inward, outward, and corporate) and valuable insights from the spiritual masters within Christian history are provided as supplements to the biblical foundation that grounds the book.
Another book that makes a nice companion to this one is Dallas Willard's "The Spirit of the Disciplines." Willard's book is highly recommended by Foster who considered it the book of the decade (1980s) and now considers Willard's new book "The Divine Conspiracy" as the one he has been searching for all his life because of its biblically comprehensive, holistic and practical nature. Both Foster and Willard value the deep, spiritual insights of the older Christian classics (including those penned by so-called Christian "mystics") as seen by their many references and quotes.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Mark Jones on April 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
_Celebration of Discipline_ is one of the finest Christian books of our time. I read it as an "assignment" with a men's study group, and at first, was a bit ambivalent about this ethereal-sounding spiritual book from a Quaker. I began it reluctantly, but shortly realized that what I was reading was solid, no-holds barred steps towards maturity in Christ, through discipleship and productive living.
Foster speaks of the "inward disciplines" the "outward disciplines" and the "corporate disciplines" of the Christian life. As I flip through the book, I find myself in need of a tune-up.
It's that kind of book. It's one that you'll never master, but the joy is in the journey, and in following the Savior with the full passion of your heart. He's calling us to the life of Discipline and discipleship, not to a willy-nilly external Christianity. _Celebration_ is a breath of fresh air in an era of "easy believism" and cheap grace.
Foster has touched a generation of believers with this timeless classic.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read a portion of this book yearly. As I grow older, I discover how my understanding of how to approach God changes. My capacity to be quiet and listen, and to consider His presence strengthens with each year. Foster discusses the ways through the centuries, and from Christ's own example, how to meditate, how to pray, how to study, how to be in solitude, and so on. Never does Foster compromise biblical Christianity with tradition, or with a new age view of contemplative discipline. Have your Bible open, and be ready to be challenged to rethink experiential faith in ways as old as the New Testament. Keep "Celebration" handy too... it isn't a one-sitting kind of book. It isn't so thick or difficult to understand, but to integrate these disciplines will require slow and careful reading of this book.

Anthony Trendl
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