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Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion Hardcover – March 12, 2009


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Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion + Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us + Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (March 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830835148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835140
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coauthors Foster (Celebration of Discipline) and Beebe (A Concept to Keep) have much to say on the variety and history of Christian devotion. They develop seven ways of characterizing methods for spiritual development, and illustrate those methods by classifying major Christian figures according to these paths. The work of Augustine, for example, illustrates the right ordering of love. The seven paths are not equally obvious: the meaning of action and contemplation is more apparent than the right ordering of love, which is more metaphoric but also cryptic. A better balance between the frequently scholastic-sounding treatments of the major Christian thinkers and the warm, informal reflecting and responding chapter conclusions – written by Foster – would have broadened the book's appeal. Some who are strongly inclined to devotion may be taken aback by the book's varied tables and lists. On the other hand, this is a meaty, thoughtful book that will satisfy those who want substantive prescriptions for ways to grow spiritually. One bonus is that it includes not only fathers but also mothers of the church. This book puts religion back in spirituality, a good, true home for it. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This is very much a survey work, useful as an introduction to a wide range of spiritual masters--and especially useful if it inspires one to read some of the classic texts it summarizes." (Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal, June 4, 2010)

"Few people pass through life without at one time or another wishing they had faith--or more faith. Longing for God offers the examples of Christians whose longings were answered." (J. Douglas Ousley, August 2009)

"By featuring the lives and teaching of 26 spiritual masters from church history, Foster and Beebe shine a light on seven paths (or orientations) to spiritual development. This survey brings together shared themes and unique contributions that guide those journeying with and toward God." (The 2010 Christianity Today Book Awards, Spirituality Category Winner, February 2010)

"Anyone longing for God will find this book to be a treasure chest full of gems. Dig in and you will be lavishly rewarded." (Barbara Sartorius-Bjelland, The Covenant Companion, November 2009)

"A rich resource which can lead one into a more intimate relationship with God." (Arnold Rzepecki, Catholic Library World, December 2009)

"Like a personal introduction to those well-known Christian writers of the past." (Betty Waller, The Lamplighter, vol. 41, no. 2)

"Foster and Beebe certainly captured my interest and spiritual imagination as I used this book for my morning quiet time. I recommend it highly. The book is also available as an abridged audio book--a great resource for the morning commute or a road trip." (Gerry Ediger, Mennonite Brethren Herald, September 2009)

"The authors do an excellent job. They relay the practical and powerful messages of great thinkers and doers who were not always understood in their times, and they do so in a way that is intelligible for today's readers." (Wayne E. Groner, Congregations, Fall 2009)

"This book can serve as spiritual 'food' to nourish a hungry soul and serves as a great resource for teachers and pastors who do not have time to dig through ancient manuscripts looking for nuggets of useful information." (David Mercadante, Quaker Life, September/October 2009)

"A rich feast of Christian life and practice. Powerfully instructive on how serious people make real progress in the life with God." (Dallas Willard, Christian Retailing, July 6, 2009)

"Articulate, intellectual dialogue will satisfy the mind looking for a clear understanding of the ways people have historically attained spiritual intimacy." (K. R. C., Church Libraries, Summer 2009)

"When it comes to growing in-depth in one's spiritual life, Richard Foster is one of the first authors to whom you should turn. In his latest book, Foster teams up with Gayle D. Beebe, president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, on a project that has taken three years to develop and write. [This] is well worth the wait. The book is based on the idea that throughout history, both individuals and societies have taken different paths to become alive to God. . . . [As] a result, the book is part devotional, part lesson in church history, and part challenge for deeper spiritual growth. Reading the pages is a rich reminder that we are not alone in our journeys of spiritual formation--God is with us, and many have gone before us." (Margaret Oines, FaithfulReader.com, June 2009)

"Looking for a good mentor? This book helps you reach back into history to find spiritual mentors who had deep and abiding relationships with Christ. Each person featured (from Martin Luther to Augustine to John of the Cross) represents seven enduring paths to Christian devotion. You'll learn how they cultivated their relationship with Christ and gain insights for your own life and those you lead." ("Ministry Toolbox" (pastors.com), May 2009)

"I have found this book to have excellent insight into our walk with God. To probe deeply into the lives of those who had generally given all to have a relationship with God, resulted in much valuable reading. I can recommend this book to all those who want to invest more deeply into their Christian lives, or are interested in learning more about church history." (City Light News, Calgary, Alberta, May 2009)

"For a survey text on Christian spirituality, this would be an excellent book. Foster has always excelled at helping Christians appreciate the large variety of spiritualities and paths of spiritual formation that grow out of various Christian traditions. By using 3-4 persons as examples of each path, and drawing those persons from a broad historical and denominational background, the reader will certainly encounter everything from Quakers to Catholics, classical spiritual writers to contemporary guides." (Internet Monk (internetmonk.com), April 13, 2009)

"I would like every single Christian I know to read the book. It is a gold mine of knowledge, inspiration, encouragement, straightforwardness, and a joy to read. I could hardly put it down. It moves rapidly and keeps your interest. I cannot recommend it highly enough." (Bill Vaswig, founder and president, Preaching & Prayer Ministries, Inc., May/June 2009)

"Today we are in a state of flooding and yet have no water to drink. It is difficult to find authentic principles that satisfy our spiritual thirst. This is the very book that greatly helps those who are thirsty, worn out, burned out and tired of religious malpractices that are not truly spiritual. Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe show us how our faith ancestors found the wellspring of the deep and authentic spirituality and drew the fresh water that cleared their thirst. If you are looking for an authentic spiritual formation manual, you must read this book that will take you to the 'never-ending presence of God' experience!" (Joshua Choonmin Kang, author of Deep-Rooted in Christ, and pastor of OMC, Los Angeles)

"Living amid the rush of today's world--especially as one who leads in today's church--I need the wisdom of past saints. Their will to nakedly live in the light of God's Word distinguishes them from our tendencies to clothe ourselves in mere success, recognition or knowledge. Foster and Beebe afford us a resource to 'strip down'--to till our hearts, review our priorities and invite the Holy Spirit to plow our souls. His rain on such prepared soil is the key to any lasting fruitfulness in life or leadership." (Jack W. Hayford, chancellor, The King's Seminary, Los Angeles)

"Deep wells of living water dug by our ancestors have been filled with religious rubble and trash by American consumer spirituality. Like Isaac, digging again the wells of his father that the Philistines stopped up, Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe have cleaned out these deep sources of Christian nurture and formation for us. It turns out that there are wells all over the place. Use this book for your bucket." (Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of The Message)

"Reading Longing for God is like stepping into an unfamiliar room and finding a wonderful group of vital and brilliant brothers and sisters in the way of Christ, reaching out to us from across the ages and from all kinds of personal characteristics and circumstances. We need to reach back and let them help us to know the fullness of life in the kingdom of God for who and where we are now. The spiritual impoverishment so widespread today among Christians is largely due to disconnection from 'the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.' The authors have opened doors into 'the unsearchable riches of Christ.' Let's go in." (Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy)

"This is a feast for the mind and the soul. This is the best and richest of Christian thinking and soul-making made accessible to everybody. It would be very hard to read this without having your heart grow." (John Ortberg, author and pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church)

"This marvelous source book by Foster and Beebe invites us to a pilgrimage toward God. It takes us deeply and slowly into the old trusts of our fathers and mothers in faith. The book will be a valuable detailed reminder that the journey is not an easy one, and that we are not the first ones who have walked that way. The book meditates on the old habits whereby one may break from the present rush in order to be refreshed and transformed by a holiness that is beyond every quick fix and every surface offer." (Walter Brueggemann, author of The Prophetic Imagination)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a well written book by two scholars of Christian spirituality.
Alex Tang
I highly recommend Foster's book on spiritual disciplines (see my review) before reading this one.
JustinHoca
This book is an excellent overview of spiritual formation over the centuries.
Dale Viljoen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tang on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reminds me of the approach taken by Richard Foster (2001) in his book, Streams of Living Water. While in Streams, Foster divided the Christian traditions, here they try to divide the spiritual life as seven paths of Christian devotion. These paths are
(1) The right ordering of our love for God
(2) The spiritual life as journey
(3) The recovery of knowledge of God lost in the Fall
(4) Intimacy with Jesus
(5) The right ordering of our experiences with God
(6) Action and contemplation
(7) Divine ascent

The authors have selected a few Christian spiritual saints from the past to support each one of these path. For example in the path of action and contemplation, John Cassian, Benedict of Nursia and Gregory the Great were chosen as examples and a small sample of their wrings were quoted.

As a student of Christian spirituality, I welcome the revival of interest in the leaders of the spirituality tradition. The Desert Fathers and Mothers, Christian mystics, spiritual directors and spiritual writers are enjoying a revival of sorts. Their works are being taken down from dusty shelves and their writings are being reprinted. These saints are very complex people and they lived in a time and space very remote to our time and space. Therefore I fear when they and their works are used to support certain views of spiritualities without reference to the context in which their works were produced. Oops. Sorry about the rant.

This is a well written book by two scholars of Christian spirituality. The seven paths mentioned are well defined but somehow felt too 'neat.' I hope now that Christian devotion is categorized, it will not be systematized and formulatized. In his book, Streams, Foster identifies six dimensions of the Christian life.
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Format: Hardcover
When it comes to growing in-depth in one's spiritual life, Richard Foster is one of the first authors to whom you should turn. Founder of Renovare in Denver, Colorado and author of many books --- including the classic CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE: The Path to Spiritual Growth --- he has long been known for challenging followers of Jesus to reflect more of God in every area of their life.

In his latest book, Foster teams up with Gayle D. Beebe, president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, on a project that has taken three years to develop and write. LONGING FOR GOD: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion, is well worth the wait. The book is based on the idea that throughout history, both individuals and societies have taken different paths to become alive to God. Once these spiritual awakenings occur, a hunger for God's habitual presence often lingers. So how do we encounter God's love in a way that stirs up the spiritual longings inside of us? Foster and Beebe believe there is no cookie cutter answer. Rather, our own capacity to receive and respond to God's love needs to be cultivated. We must be intentional about Christian spiritual formation.

They observe: "Today there is a growing awareness, reflected in an important body of literature, that we have destroyed the main centers of meaning and value to such an extent that we are left with few resources to cultivate and sustain our common life. At the same time a significant chorus of writers is seeking to recover the rich spiritual resources that once guided us morally, sustained us spiritually and satisfied our deep longing for God.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel E. Ritchie on May 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Richard Foster has opened up the field of the diverse approaches to spiritual growth, historically considered, for a wide public. This volume, co-authored with Westmont College President Gayle Beebe, introduces seven approaches ("Spiritual Life as a Journey," "Action and Contemplation," etc.). Each one is accompanied by three or four examples from Christian history, from Augustine and Benedict to Thomas Merton. Each example may be read in a single sitting. Without dumbing down the thought and practice of these great figures, the authors communicate effectively to a general audience. The book will make many readers want to go deeper - which is no doubt the authors' intent. An excellent volume.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dalton VINE VOICE on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Among some Christians, there is little, if any, attention paid to church history or those who have gone before. In some cases, the writings and thoughts of past luminaries may be disregarded or frowned-on because of their religious tradition, or because some of their teachings are considered controversial or unorthodox. Our tendency to write people off that we disagree with is tragic. We end up losing out on whatever we might have learned from them and may diminish their significance in the eyes of others. I'm not suggesting that we embrace false doctrine. When we encounter teaching that may not be correct, one noted Bible teacher of the past likened it to eating fish: "eat the flesh and spit out the bones." This is an approach that I favor, one that requires us to become mature, able to distinguish between right and wrong.

This is the broadminded way that Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe take in Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion. They serve-up the best from twenty-six different historical figures who in some way have contributed to our understanding of experiencing God.

The book is divided into seven major sections. These consist of the seven primary paths to God that have been recognized throughout Christian history.
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