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The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows (Apprentice (IVP Books)) Hardcover – June 5, 2009


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Frequently Bought Together

The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows (Apprentice (IVP Books)) + The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ (The Apprentice Series) + The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love (The Apprentice)
Price for all three: $52.40

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Product Details

  • Series: Apprentice (IVP Books)
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (June 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830835318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835317
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Other authors have written extensively on spiritual disciplines and the spiritual life, but few have created a curriculum that is as accessible to the common believer seeking spiritual growth. I exuberantly recommend this book to anyone interested in a practical model of spiritual growth. (Steve Gioielli, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, Fall 2009)

"I predict this book, and the two more in the series, will become deeply influential books in evangelical churches that want to deepen spiritual formation." (Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed blog, July 15, 2009)

"Smith challenges those who seek to follow God to examine the stories they already know. . . . [Includes] exercises and questions . . . to deepen their knowledge of God." (Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2009)

"This first book in The Apprentice Series, The Good and Beautiful God, is a treasure. Dr. Smith has thought long and hard about the process of human transformation into the likeness of Jesus. I urge you to buy this book immediately! Read it and apply it. Then live it out in the context of a loving community. You will not regret doing so." (Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline and coauthor of Longing for God)

"I know from our long relationship that Jim Smith is a fine and trustworthy man, who authentically knows 'the good and beautiful God.' I can think of no higher compliment than this: I would happily trust the care of my soul to Jim and the good and beautiful God he commends to us." (Todd Hunter, author of Christianity Beyond Belief and pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Costa Mesa)

"The Apprentice Series is the best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation." (Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy)

Review

"I know from our long relationship that Jim Smith is a fine and trustworthy man, who authentically knows 'the good and beautiful God.' I can think of no higher compliment than this: I would happily trust the care of my soul to Jim and the good and beautiful God he commends to us."

More About the Author

James Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School, D.Min., Fuller Seminary) is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, KS and a writer and speaker in the area of Christian spiritual formation. He also serves as the director of the Christian Spiritual Formation Institute at Friends University.

A founding member of Richard J. Foster's spiritual renewal ministry, Renovaré Smith is an ordained United Methodist Church minister and has served in various capacities in local churches. Smith is also the author of A Spiritual Formation Workbook, Devotional Classics (with Richard Foster), Embracing the Love of God, Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven and Room of Marvels.

Customer Reviews

It's not just a book to read….it's a book to do.
C. Medearis
Practicing the soul training exercises really helped my spiritual growth, getting closer to my God day by day.
T. Richardson
It is very insightful and easy to read and comprehend.
Karl C. Dickson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lemaro Thompson on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very interested in reading this book after hearing James Bryan Smith speak at the Divine Conspiracy Conference. Upon reading the first few pages, I learned that his mentors were none other than Richard Foster and Dallas Willard! I was even more interested and fortunately I was not disappointed.

If you are familiar with Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, this book has similar imprints of these writing, but Smith has his own distinct style.

His style of writing draws you in, entices you to let down defenses, and shares his life experiences with you.

The book is laden with stories about his life and others. How real people are being conformed to the image of God. He talks about trust, by comparing the trust his son has in him. He affirms the Goodness of God even while talking about how he suffered through the loss of his daughter. The book is good, not only because it content, but because it is utterly realistic.

The book has 229 pgs, which consists of 9 Chapters. Each chapter has an addition with a spiritual discipline that should be practiced that week. Furthermore the book has questions associated with each chapter at the back.Which is very useful seeing that one of the purposes of the book is to be used in a group!

How is the content of the book? Here is an excerpt below:

"God loves us so much that he longs for us to be pure and works tirelessly to make us pure. MacDonald points out how God is against sin and thus for humans: 'He is always against sin; in so far as, and while, they and sin are one, he is against them-- against their desires, their aims, their fears, and their hopes; and thus he is altogether for them.'

God is against my sin because he is for me.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jared Totten on January 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith addresses many of the "false narratives" that Christians believe about themselves and God. These narratives (such as "I change by my own willpower", "God is angry with me" or "God blesses me when I'm good and punishes me when I'm bad") shape the way believers live their Christian life and can quickly lead to failure and disillusionment. Speaking of Jesus' teachings and parables, Smith suggests "If we adopt Jesus' narratives about God, we will know God properly and right actions will follow". In other words, orthodoxy in the believer will lead to orthopraxy.

I liked the premise of the book and more than a few of his corrective narratives (I hope you can tolerate that word, by the way, he uses it a lot). I think he pinpointed many of the imbalanced views that many Christians have of God and made some good arguments from a counter-narrative.

However, I was disappointed at a couple of points with the seeming lack of balance in his counter arguments. While the false narratives he addresses are caricatures of God (exaggerations that are popular because they are at least somewhat true) it seems his corrective narratives could also be caricatures on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are turning the magnifying glass on the bad theology (and thus bad orthopraxy) of some Christians, you better be ready to have the magnifying glass turned on your theology as well.

I noticed this particularly in the area of mankind's sin. As I hear more about the idea of "therapeutic moralistic deism", I see more of it's influence in the way people talk about their sin. For instance: "God does not want us to sin, and God does want us to do well.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith inaugurates a three-volume "curriculum for Christlikeness. Volume 2, The Good and Beautiful Life, will focus on "inward character, dealing specifically with the vices that cause ruin." Volume 3, The Good and Beautiful Community, will focus on learning "how to live as apprentices of Jesus in our ordinary, everyday lives." Volume 1, reviewed here, focuses on "the character of God and how we move into a life of intimacy with God."

The nexus between who God is, how we live, and to whom we relate lies at the heart of what Smith believes is "a reliable method for changing our hearts." All of us--whether Christians or not--desire to become better people. But we rely on willpower to do this, when the real problem lies in our hearts. If change is to happen, our hearts must change, but we cannot do this directly. Rather, as Bryan puts it, "we change by indirection." Or, put another way: "We do what we can in order to enable us to do what we can't do directly."

But even this way of stating the matter places too much emphasis on what "we can do." In reality, as Bryan points out, is the Holy Spirit who is at work in us, directing our changed narratives, practices and relationships. "Everything that happens to us in our Christian lives," he writes, "is the work of the Holy Spirit." The fruit of the Spirit in our lives is becoming what God created us to be and what Jesus re-created us to be.

The Good and Beautiful God examines the stories we tell about God, contrasting them with the stories Jesus told about him. It turns out that our narratives about God lie at the root of our soul-sickness and inability to change.
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