Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion


2010 Christianity Today Book Award winner!

2010 Golden Canon Leadership Book Award winner!

Think of the moment you last experienced God.

Do you know him that closely in this moment?

Truly experiencing the love of God gives us a taste of his goodness and his love for us, but often those moments are fleeting. We get distracted by life. Our ...

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Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion

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2010 Christianity Today Book Award winner!

2010 Golden Canon Leadership Book Award winner!

Think of the moment you last experienced God.

Do you know him that closely in this moment?

Truly experiencing the love of God gives us a taste of his goodness and his love for us, but often those moments are fleeting. We get distracted by life. Our awareness and understanding fade while our longing to experience him that way again increases.

In these pages you can begin to fill that longing by developing your capacity to receive and respond to God's love. Spiritual formation is the process through which one's inner self is opened to the work of the Holy Spirit, who forms us into the image of the Son. Here Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe, both experienced leaders in spiritual formation, introduce you to people from the past who have known God deeply. Each person helps you to grasp one of the seven primary paths to intimacy with God that have been developed throughout Christian history. Chapters are divided into sections, each segment surrounding a key figure and concluding with a reflection and prayer.

This rich resource can guide you into the same deep intimacy with God, opening you to the Spirit's work of transformation.

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Editorial Reviews

Walter Brueggemann
"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."
Joshua Choonmin Kang
"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!"
Jack W. Hayford
"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."
Eugene H. Peterson
"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."
Dallas Willard
"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."
John Ortberg
"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."
Lawrence S. Cunningham
"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."
J. Douglas Ousley
"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."
The 2010 Christianity Today Book Awards
"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."
Barbara Sartorius-Bjelland
"Anyone longing for God will find this book to be a treasure chest full of gems. Dig in and you will be lavishly rewarded."
Arnold Rzepecki
"A rich resource which can lead one into a more intimate relationship with God."
Betty Waller
"Like a personal introduction to those well-known Christian writers of the past."
Gerry Ediger
"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."
Wayne E. Groner
"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."
David Mercadante
"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."
K. R. C.
"Articulate, intellectual dialogue will satisfy the mind looking for a clear understanding of the ways people have historically attained spiritual intimacy."
Margaret Oines
"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."
"Ministry Toolbox" (pastors.com)
"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."
City Light News
"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."
Internet Monk (internetmonk.com)
"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."
Bill Vaswig
"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."
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830835140
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2009
  • Series: Renovare Resources
  • Pages: 366
  • Sales rank: 1,503,603
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard J. Foster (D.Th.P., Fuller Theological Seminary) is founder of Renovaré in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of many books, including Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, which has sold over two million copies worldwide, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World, and coauthor (with Gayle Beebe) of Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion.

Gayle D. Beebe (Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University) is president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and past president of Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan. He serves as one of the general editors for The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible.

He is also author of The Interpretive Role of the Religious Community in Friedrich Schleiermacher and Josiah Royce and coeditor of Keeping the Concept in the Social and Natural Sciences; Keeping the Concept in the Philosophical, Practical and Productive Arts; A Concept to Keep; and Religion and Its Relevance in Post-Modernism.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Recovering the Seven Paths of Christian Devotion
1. Path One: The Right Ordering of Our Love for God
Origen of Alexandria: The Quest for Perpetual Communion with God
Augustine of Hippo: Loving God with Our Body, Mind and Heart
Bernard of Clairvaux: The Desire for God and the Ascent of Pure Love
Blaise Pascal: The Right Ordering of Body, Mind and Heart
2. Path Two: The Spiritual Life as Journey
Evagrius of Ponticus: From Deadly Thoughts to Godly Virtues
George Herbert: Weaving Life into a Meaningful Whole
John Bunyan: The Pilgrim's Path to God
Thomas Merton: Finding Our Home with God
3. Path Three: The Recovery of Knowledge of God Lost in the Fall
Thomas Aquinas: Learning to Love and Know God Fully
Martin Luther: Growing in the Freedom of God's Love
John Calvin: Knowing God and Knowing Ourselves
4. Path Four: Intimacy with Jesus Christ
Francis of Assisi: The World as Our Cloister
St. Bonaventure: The Fullness of Life in Christ
Thomas à Kempis: Imitating Christ
Ignatius of Loyola: Guided by the Mysteries of Christ
5. Path Five: The Right Ordering of Our Experiences of God
Julian of Norwich: Enfolded in the Goodness of God
George Fox: Learning to Follow the Light of Christ Within
John Wesley: The Role of Our Religious Experiences in Knowing God
Friedrich Schleiermacher: Making Sense of Our Experiences of God
6. Path Six: Action and Contemplation
John Cassian: Balancing the Active and Contemplative Life
Benedict of Nursia: Learning to Live by a Rule
Gregory the Great: Living the Active Life Contemplatively
7. Path Seven: Divine Ascent
Pseudo-Dionysius: Loving God through the Threefold Way
The Cloud of Unknowing: The Sharp Darts of Longing Love
Teresa of Avila: Entering Christ's Mansion
John of the Cross: Illuminating the Dark Night
Appendix 1: Pre-Christian Influences on Our Life with God
Appendix 2: Christian Women and Spirituality
Appendix 3: The Contribution of the Eastern Orthodox Church

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