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Christian Proficiency: Paperback – November 1, 2010
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About the Author
Martin Thornton (1915-1986) is author of English Spirituality, Spiritual Direction, and A Joyful Heart, all of which have helped shape the course of contemporary spiritual and pastoral thought.
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Fr. Thornton writes clearly and not without a bit of ironic humor along the way, but I was pleased to find a glossary at the end. He makes a good case for the need for one to have a Spiritual Director as well as holding a periodic self-examination and personal confession, this last not emphasized enough (or, indeed, if at all!) by many of our clergy. He also discusses three kinds of prayer: mental, recollection and colloquy. As I read the book, I found myself marking off whole paragraphs for future reference (I am a postulant for ordination to the Diaconate). While the book is obviously written for the education of Anglicans, thoughtful Christians of other denominations may find the principles are universal.
Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print, although I was able to obtain a used copy in very good condition through Amazon.
"I'm baptized, but I don't really understand what's going on."
"Why am I going to church? Aren't I already saved?"
If you are a Christian in the First World, you may have said or heard some of these things. Thornton here is providing an introduction to the process whereby a "justified" or "saved" Christian enters more fully into the life of God and His Church through prayer. Written from a perspective that is very catholic, but still Reformed, Thornton explains a Rule of the Church that is broadly applicable, how the Rule of the Church can be a template for a personal Rule, choosing a spiritual director and/or a confessor, how to pray, and how to go on retreat.
The book is written is a clear and accessible style for the middle class English audience of the 1950s to which it was originally addressed. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in renewing themselves in Christ, not for the next year, but for a lifetime.