- Paperback: 364 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books (June 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830837450
- ISBN-13: 978-0830837458
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries Paperback – June 21, 2010
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Starred Review. Christians in today's church strive to lead spiritual lives marked by true sacrifice, much as the earliest Christians and their communities did. Sittser, who teaches at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., offers a compelling history of spirituality. While many such histories focus on the early martyrs of the faith and medieval mystics, Sittser's singular study demonstrates that contemporary Christians drink from a deep well of spiritual practices as they become part of the cloud of witnesses to the faith. Sittser characterizes periods in the history of spirituality according to various themes—e.g., witness, belonging, struggle and conversion—that continue to characterize Christianity today. Unlike earlier histories of spirituality, Sittser's includes a chapter on the spirituality of evangelicals (conversion) and one on the spirituality of pioneer missionaries (risk). Thus, the trailblazing missionary work of Jeremiah Evarts (1781–1831) and Jim Elliot (1927–1956) to indigenous peoples is singled out as a form of spiritual practice. Sittser concludes each chapter with exercises designed to reflect on ways that certain spiritual practices can be incorporated into contemporary observance. Discussion questions that can guide groups or individuals and an annotated reading list make Sittser's book a valuable tool. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Water From a Deep Well will reward readers who appreciate thorough research and detailed reporting, enlivened by telling asides and black-and-white illustrations. (Monica Tenney, Congregational Libraries Today, November/December 2008)
The lives of the saints are provided to inspire, encourage and invite us to join them on our own journeys of transforamtion. Consider a copy of Sittser's excellent, well-researched book for your home or church library. (Gail Welborn, The Cypress Times February 17, 2009)
Sittser utilizes the metaphor of food and drink to serve up a timely corrective to one-generational approaches by inviting sojourners to an elaborate feast with the family of faith. This tried and true recipe deserves consideration not only as a personal or collective devotional but also for courses in church history, ecclesiology, and spiritual formation. (Martin William Mittelstadt, Religious Studies Review, September 2008)
Water From a Deep Well is a good book for a time when some evangelicals seem intent on de-rooting themselves from their family tree. (Matthew P. Ristuccia, WORLD Magazine,Nov. 29/Dec 6, 2008)
Even if we cannot be a Saint Francis ora monk, there are lessons to be learned from reading about our predecessors in the Christian faith. Recommended for anyone who is interested in strengthening his or her spirituality. (John B. Shewmaker, Catholic Library World, December 2008)
Because it is such a well-written, well-researched, and well-conceived book, it will immediately become an indispensible book for anyone interested in Christian spirituality and the history of Christian spirituality. (Michael Glerup, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care)
"Sittser's lucid prose and earnest manner of addressing his readers' own spiritual needs makes Water from a Deep Well an exceptionally accessible book, and thus 'popular' in the best sense of the word. But the helps and critical apparatus at the end make the book suitable for academically rigorous settings." (Richard B. Steele for Catholic Books Review, April 2008)
"Excellent, well-researched book." (Gail Welbourn, Montgomery's Journey, April 2008)
"The lives of the saints are provided to inspire, encourage and invite us to join them on our own journeys of transformation." (Gail Welborn, Christian News Northwest, March 2008)
Water From a Deep Well is a hard-to-put-down book. . . . The author's aim is to help us mine the riches of our wide heritage, and he does it admirably. . . . His grasp of the subject, ability with words, and his experience learning these lessons shine from every page." (Donna Eggett, Christian Book Previews, February 2008)
"My supply of adjectives fails me in describing the worth of this book." (Betty Waller for The Lamplighter, February 2008)
"An excellent resource for devotional study and personal spiritual development." (Pulpit Helps, December 2007)
"Sittser's wonderfully capacious book gives us ecumenism at its best." (Christianity Today, November 2007)
"[A] compelling history of spirituality. . . . Sittser concludes each chapter with . . . ways that certain spiritual practices can be incorporated into contemporary observance. . . . [A] valuable tool." (Publishers Weekly starred review, September 24, 2007)
"Ever since that day at noon when a Samaritan woman asked for living water, people have turned to Jesus for the water that satisfies the thirst of the human condition and wells up to eternal life. In Water from a Deep Well, Gerald Sittser has followed the lives of significant Christians down through the centuries who have tasted the water, shared it with others and, in some cases, carried it to foreign lands. This book will serve as an excellent resource in the classroom, in our personal libraries and in our prayerful consideration of the 'great cloud of witnesses' who have drunk from the well before us." (Albert Haase, O.F.M., director, School of Spirituality at Mayslake Ministries, and author of Coming Home to Your True Self)
"Open this book, and walk with holy fools and prophetic rebels as they struggle against all that would separate them from God. And what a blessing to have Jerry Sittser as a guide through the history of Christian spirituality! He writes not just as a scholar and a teacher, but also as a Christian who has long walked the narrow path, keeping company with God, and both his wisdom and his winsomeness mark every page." (Lauren F. Winner, assistant professor, Duke Divinity School, and author of Girl Meets God)
"This fine book is as useful as it is informative. In lucid prose and with a gentle spirit, Gerald Sittser offers a careful primer on the history of Christian spirituality, a gracious guide to spiritual experience today and most of all a winsome invitation to experience the reality of Jesus Christ, who inspires all true spirituality. In words spoken to St. Augustine, 'tolle, lege' (pick it up, read it). The book will make a real difference." (Mark A. Noll, McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame)
"Jerry Sittser is a rare kind of writer: a scholar with a scholar's depth, and a man with the spiritual health of his readers ever before him. . . .The chapters are full of anecdotes that inspire and amuse, and practical suggestions to help us appropriate the wisdom that is the deposit of the church's great men and women through the ages. Water from a Deep Well is a thoroughly worthwhile read." (Ben Patterson, campus pastor, Westmont College, and author of He Has Made Me Glad and Waiting)
"Much of the current interest in 'spirituality' suffers from a kind of amnesia--forgetful or oblivious that there is indeed a centuries-long well to draw from, full of an inheritance which can enrich our lives. Jerry Sittser has provided a bucket by which we can draw from that well, whether simply to taste, or better to drink deeply. This is a book to humble us, discovering how much more there is to know, but also to bring fresh hope that God works beyond our small personal experiences, and beyond our own lifetime. Read it--enjoy, and be stretched." (Leighton Ford, author of Transforming Leadership)
"Gerald Sittser offers us two enormous gifts in this compelling history of Christian spirituality--a wonderfully flowing narrative that catches us up into the lives and practices of great saints, and voluminous endnotes so that we can pursue more thoroughly the topics and characters he describes. This beautiful book will widen everyone's spirituality, for Sittser introduces us to an extensive range of eras and their greatest contributions. Taste and see--this book will deepen you!" (Marva Dawn, author of The Sense of the Call and Keeping the Sabbath Wholly)
"Gerald Sittser's Water from a Deep Well is a remarkable combination of sound and thorough scholarship with a warm heart for spiritual life in Christ and his people through the ages. The author speaks with profound theological insight and obvious personal experience. His book anchors spirituality now in the sometimes raw substance of the life of saints through the ages. I highly recommend it for those who, today, want to enter into the realities of Christ in his people for all times. For perspective on evangelical spirituality, in particular, it is highly useful." (Dallas Willard, author of The Spirit of the Disciplines)
"Gerald Sittser opens up windows into worlds of spiritual practice that we truly need--both because they intensify our thirst for God, and because they stimulate our imaginations for the varied ways God meets and leads the people of God. While this book feeds me, it also does something even more important: it leaves me hungry, which is where I need to be in order to grow as a disciple, husband, father, friend and pastor." (Mark Labberton, pastor and author of The Dangerous Act of Worship)
"What Gerald Sittser gives us is not a guidebook . . . but something which reads more like an extended declaration of love. A history of Christian spirituality it may be, but such spirituality is understood less as a benefit to be acquired neutrally through detachment than a matter of being enthralled and enticed by the beauty which is Christ. Each chapter is instructive and informed, and Gerald Sittser provides the kind of clarity and simplicity which only grows out of deep knowledge." (Iain Torrance, president, Princeton Theological Seminary, and former moderator of the Church of Scotland)
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Top Customer Reviews
Jerry's passionate display for history to shape and impede upon us is a refreshing walk in the land of Christian Spirituality. If your feet are weary from the journey, take off your shoes and dip them into this refreshingly crisp deep well that is sure to invigorate your soul.
Also, since it gave such a warm summary, it spurned me on to use other resources to do a more indepth study of the topics that really interested me. It really help cultivate a passion to engage in my studies, not for the sake of rote, but to embrace and appreciate the different aspects of my Christian faith.
Sittser does a balanced service to Christendom by giving us a climpse of the many ways "greats" of the faith have been refreshed from the well--Christ. He provides an informative historical review of martyrs (in death and bloodless) from the Apostolic fathers until recent yet ties it all into the average man and women who have to live their faith in the rush of modernity. An impactful book that will leave you thinking and hopefully to dipping deeper into the well.
What Sittser does is something that every Christian needs, not just leaders, but everyone who claims to follow Jesus. He gives us a history lesson.
So many of us have no idea about the history of Christianity, why at its heart it is a missionary religion, the passion of those who have gone before, the blood that was spilled for the movement of Jesus to be where it is. It is so rich, so powerful and gives us such passion and enables us to continue following after God to this day.
It starts by looking at martyrs throughout church history. For many of us in the Western world, the idea of dying for your faith is remote, if not a non-thought. But, as "missiologist David B. Barrett estimates 160,000 Christians were martyred in the year 2000 alone. They died that year for the same basic reason they died in the year 155, when Polycarp was marytred, or in 202, when Perpetua was martyred. The early martyrs believed that if Jesus is Lord and the only Savior, then he accepts no rivals - no person or religion or ideology or empire. They affirmed that the Christian faith requires nothing less than a firm and joyful commitment to this conviction. Jesus came as God in human flesh to show the way to God and to be the way to God for us. This is the only Jesus there is. A lesser Jesus is not the real Jesus at all, at least not according to the testimony of the martyrs, from Stephen to the present."
Here are a few things from the book I highlighted:
The only way to understand something is to love it first, that is, to study it with sympathy, patience and appreciation.
That we might not have to die for Christ is irrelevant. How we live for Christ is the real issue.
It is easy to gawk but not learn, listen by not sympathize and thus trivialize what is sacred. These stories are not fanciful, fictional accounts that have been recorded and passed down for our entertainment. The martyrs were real people who did in fact die horribly. They had families and friends, hopes and longings, and they wanted to live a long, peaceful and prosperous life, just like us. They chose to accept death rather than renounce their faith because they believed something was more valuable than the long and happy life for which they longed.
The early church lived by a different ethic, which impressed the very people who suffered the most as victims of Rome's immorality and injustice.
The appeal of Christianity still lay in its radical sense of community: it absorbed people because the individual could drop from a wide impersonal world into a miniature community, whose demands and relations were explicit.
To love all members alike, pastors have to love them all uniquely.
Struggle is normal, necessary and even healthy in the spiritual life. Struggle proves that we are taking the Christian faith seriously.
Mystical spirituality is concerned with one basic question: how can we truly know God?
Preaching is the Word of God only if the sermon itself actually proclaims the Word of God.
This statement summarizes the essence of the book: "The Bible tells the story of human resistance and God's persistence. The story is full of flawed heroes and strange twists of plot, of the wretchedness of evil and the triumph of good, which was accomplished in a way that no one could have predicted, namely, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
This book was one of those books that impacted me on a personal and professional level, which is quite rare for a book to do. The stories, especially chapter 5 "holy heroes" left me with a sense of awe for the legacy and history of Christianity and what God calls each of us to.
Chapter 9 on the reformation showed me the high view of God and the Bible that the reformers and their churches had. Their role in communicating the words of God and their love and passion for the people they were called to lead was inspiring.
This is one of those rare books. If you want to know more about how Christianity got to where it is today, this is the book to read
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