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The Hidden Power of the Gospels: Four Questions, Four Paths, One Journey Hardcover – February 2, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Alexander Shaia reclaims the Christian gospels as religious practices shared across spiritual traditions—minds abiding in peace, guided by love, mandated to serve. This book is a jewel.” (Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., bestselling author of Happiness Is an Inside Job)

“It’s a rare treat to have someone show you a previously undiscovered layer of meaning and import. Alexander Shaia has given us a tremendous resource.” (Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity)

“This work on the gospels is breathtakingly liberating. Dr. Shaia is redirecting the last hundred-and-fifty years of gospel scholarship.” (Alan Jones, author of Soul Making)

“This is a wonderfully wise and profound vision of the Gospels, illuminating their inner meaning and our inner lives with them.” (Jack Kornfield, co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and bestselling author of A Path with Heart)

“An inspirational book, of value to anyone who turns to the gospels for insight and guidance. Readers will find themselves engaged, encouraged, and energized for their life-long Christian pilgrimage.” (Robin Griffith-Jones, author of Beloved Disciple)

“The liveliest presentation of the Gospels that I have seen in a very long time.” (Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence)

“Eye-opening, intelligent, and practical, The Hidden Power will transform the way you read scripture and reveal a path for a vibrant Christian way of life.” (Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity for the Rest of Us)

“This book will enrich your prayer life. Every word is delicious.” (Mpho Tutu, coauthor with Desmond Tutu of Made for Goodness)

“Trust me on this. . . . Shaia isn’t luring us into some esoteric corner. He’s leading us out of the stress and confusion most of us face in daily life—toward joy and stronger communities.” (David Crumm, Read the Spirit)

“[This] book is an important contribution that truly highlights the wisdom contained in the Bible and gives us teachings that are relevant to our lives no matter what faith we espouse. My prayer is that it… is recognized for the gift it is.” (Justine Willis Toms, Co-founder of New Dimensions Radio)

“The Hidden Power of the Gospels... is a formidable work which can bring new life to the teaching and preaching ministries of Christian churches and added zest to the burgeoning interspirituality movement.” (Spirituality and Practice)

“In his new book, The Hidden Power of the Gospels, Dr. Shaia moves beyond the surface of the gospel accounts and blends his journey of ‘quadratos’ into the narrative…. A provocative, pleasant piece of work.” (SeattlePI.com)

“The book is loaded with insight, and it is one of those texts that will appeal to any with an interest in psychology, counseling, and spiritual direction.” (NextReformation.com)

From the Back Cover

Christianity is in crisis. Increasing numbers of people are "opting out." Why? Have recent discoveries in archaeology uprooted our faith in the Bible? Do the gospels no longer serve our modern, complicated lives? In The Hidden Power of the Gospels, Dr. Alexander Shaia moves beyond the typical approach to reveal an undiscovered truth that's been dormant for over one thousand years.

In the tradition of such writers as Thomas Moore and Don Miguel Ruiz, Shaia reveals how the recurring cycles of change, loss, enlightenment, and maturation are illuminated by the Bible's four gospels. Combining ancient Christian traditions, anthropology, and modern psychology, he reveals what has been in front of our eyes for two thousand years: that each of the gospels is centered on a different core metaphor and each focuses on a vital spiritual question.

Matthew begins with the question "How do we face change?" Mark poses the hard question of "How do we move through suffering?" John stirs and elevates the soul as he asks, "How do we receive joy?" And Luke moves us forward on the practical path, as he inquires, "How do we mature in service?" Shaia weaves these questions together in what he calls the quadratos journey, a recurring fourfold cycle that lives on as a constant companion throughout our lives.

Shaia unravels the divine inspiration of this mysterious sequence and links its ancient truths to universal, modern understandings. By using this lens, the gospels become practical guides for creating faith-filled lives that are relevant and useful in a time that is much more complex than village life millennia ago. In the sequence Shaia discloses, the gospels become the map for our never-ending spiritual journey.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061898015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061898013
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a pastor, I find Dr. Shaia's book to be enormously practical. My tradition, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, uses a lectionary, which is a three year reading cycle that incorporates each of the four gospels which form the ONE Gospel, the Good News of Jesus the Christ. Dr. Shaia has presented us with a central question for each gospel based on the four communities that struggled with the Living Jesus in their midst. Four historical periods. Four communities with different concerns. Four applicable struggles for our lives today. Four paths, four seasons, a cycle of spirituality and faith. If one were to take the bare bones of Dr. Shaia's work and apply it, it would be very good indeed. It has that kind of practical application that a pastor can employ immediately. If you are at a crossroads in your community, this book will be able to help you map out the next three, if not four, years. Beyond the purely practical, this book also offers a great deal to the deeply spiritual (but sometimes not religious) person. If ANYTHING can bridge the gap between the traditional Christian and the reticent seeker, this can. This is an approach that can appeal to a wide and diverse group. Traditional folks, non-traditional folks. Rich and poor. Privileged and Oppressed. "Temporarily Able" and "Differently Able." Liberal and Conservative. Aged and young. We all struggle with these four questions in our faith journey. See more information about Dr. Shaia and his work at [...]. This book will be my companion as I plan out my goals for the next decade.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is so beautifully written that it's a pleasure to read. More importantly, however, is the message it shares. It has given me a new understanding of the gospels. I'm fascinated with the information about how the gospels were written and the communities to which they were written. The questions these communities had are the same ones I have today, and now I can see how the gospels can help me each and every day living my life in the twenty-first century. It has made me see the gospels as an even more important guide for my life.
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Format: Hardcover
This is NOT just another book about the gospels! With a perfect blend of historical context mixed with contemporary insights, Dr. Shaia opens up the gospels in a whole new way. If you are the kind of person who is interested in opening yourself up to a deeper relationship with the Divine, treat yourself to this book. You may even want to find someone to share it with or begin a study group. I am a coordinator of adult faith formation in a Catholic parish, and after being profoundly moved by what I experienced, I have accompanied several others as they journeyed through this material. So many eyes have been opened and it's as if people fall in love again with the gospels. Enjoy the journey...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Personal context for what I write: I am actively seeking to become a better Christian--due to tragedies in our family, I have returned to my faith as the basic way forward-to gain strength personally and to understand though service to others how I can once again be fulfilled. I am a life long protestant that has found traditional church involvement unfulfilling!

I saw an rave review of "Hidden Power" and thought why not read? The reviewers promise was inviting, superlative and in the end for me; "transformative"! The luck of reading that review has lead me to a deeper understanding about my four big questions. How do I face change? How do I move through the darkness in my life? How do I receive joy, that is, an epiphany on how to I grow into a new and better state requires doing more that thinking about-it requires action. Finally, how do I mature in service, that is, shelving my ego and methodically improving each and every day.

This book has been good for me on 4 levels. First, the gospel stories are brilliantly told with historical context, comparative differences in treatment of major events and the beautiful metaphors that make them rich. Second, since each of gospels tells Christ's story in a different way, I have learned what I could not have ever understood from just reading the Bible. Third, Dr Shaia is a seasoned counseling psychologist so his writing draws on the fundamentals of "how do I plan work out a transformative journey which improves my life". The four questions, anchored in the beauty of the gospels and psychological change principles could not possibly be richer but it is!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will knock your spiritual and intellectual socks off if you give it a chance. Read it seriously, think about it, let it enter your soul. It could be the basis for your spiritual development for years. I gave up traditional Christianity decades ago, although I am a regular churchgoer. I'm not a great Bible lover. But the thoughtful and complex view Shaia presents has made me look for the underlying spiritual and developmental truths under the stories told about Jesus.
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Combining scholarly research, psychological insights and a lifetime of spiritual inquiry, Shaia has unraveled the historical contexts of the gospels, their different audiences and
the big life questions that each addresses. Not just a fresh look but a revolutionary one whether one be clergy or laypersons.
Contrasting the historical Jesus with Jesus the Christ and Holy God brings Shaia's message right into each of our lives, deeply and permanently. How we are finally transformed by our faith after confronting life's changes, pain and joy is boldily and convincingly told by Shaia. It has become a favorite book to give other seekers.
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