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Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth Paperback – June 26, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Like a child exploring the attic of an old house on a rainy day, discovering a trunk full of treasure and then calling all his brothers and sisters to share the find, Richard Foster has 'found' the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot ... the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life. Eugene Peterson This is a book I'd love to have written ... exciting, stimulating and joyful. Joyce Huggett The best modern book on Christian spirituality. Ronald Sider --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (June 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034073521X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340735213
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 7.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (501 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

477 of 531 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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93 of 102 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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66 of 72 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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81 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Hutchison on May 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Richard Foster's work inspirationally motivates the reader to consider disciplines as a means to draw into a closer relationship with God. In an age of overwhelming materialism, rationalized Church teachings, and reflexively dogmatic positions works dealing directly with the spiritual are rightly greeted with a genuine sense of joy and enthusiasm.
A continual distraction throughout the work, however is Foster's highly assertive style. The tendency reveals itself in implicit assertions that the disciplines are in and of themselves inherently good and that their purposes are self-realized or attained experientially. If the chapter on fasting is considered, it is difficult or impossible to find a thesis for the purpose of fasting. If the chapter on prayer is considered, "personal prayer" and "prayer for others" are categorized separately; the thought is then asserted that it is appropriate to pray for ourselves in the terms, "if it be thy will" but not appropriate to do so for others.
In the end, Foster's work is rightly seen as a source of strong encouragement - a conversation with a knowledgeable friend sharing thoughts and experiences. It does this well. However, it should be looked at with a more critical eye, if regarded as a source of teaching. Many assertions and ideas are left unsubstantiated and may be misleading, misguided, or wrong.
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