Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion


Truly experiencing the love of God gives us a taste of his deep goodness, but often those moments are fleeting. We get distracted by life. Our awareness and understanding fade while our longing to experience God that way again increases. In these pages we can begin to fill that longing by developing our capacity to receive and respond to God's love.
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Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion

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Truly experiencing the love of God gives us a taste of his deep goodness, but often those moments are fleeting. We get distracted by life. Our awareness and understanding fade while our longing to experience God that way again increases. In these pages we can begin to fill that longing by developing our capacity to receive and respond to God's love.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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.
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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830835140
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2009
  • Series: Renovare Resources
  • Pages: 366
  • Sales rank: 452,811
  • 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

Preface 9

Introduction: Recovering the Seven Paths of Christian Devotion 11

Path 1 The Right Ordering of Our Love for God 17

The Quest for Perpetual Communion with God Origen of Alexandria 20

Loving God with Our Body, Mind and Heart Augustine of Hippo 26

The Desire for God and the Ascent of Pure Love Bernard of Clairvaux 34

The Right Ordering of Body, Mind and Heart Blaise Pascal 42

Path 2 The Spiritual Life as Journey 51

From Deadly Thoughts to Godly Virtues Evagrius of Ponticus 54

Weaving Life into a Meaningful Whole George Herbert 65

The Pilgrim's Path to God John Bunyan 75

Finding Our Home with God Thomas Merton 81

Path 3 The Recovery of Knowledge of God Lost in the Fall 87

Learning to Love and Know God Fully Thomas Aquinas 91

Growing in the Freedom of God's Love Martin Luther 100

Knowing God and Knowing Ourselves John Calvin 112

Part 4 Intimacy with Jesus Christ 121

The World as Our Cloister Francis of Assisi 124

The Fullness of Life in Christ St. Bonaventure 132

Imitating Christ Thomas à Kempis 141

Guided by the Mysteries of Christ Ignatius of Loyola 149

Path 5 The Right Ordering of Our Experiences of God 159

Enfolded in the Goodness of God Julian of Norwich 164

Learning to Follow the Light of Christ Within George Fox 176

The Role of Our Religious Experiences in Knowing God John Wesley 184

Making Sense of Our Experiences of God Friedrich Schleiermacher 196

Path 6 Action and Contemplation 203

Balancing the Active and Contemplative Life John Cassian 205

Learning to Live by a Rule Benedict of Nursia 217

Living the Active Life Contemplatively Gregory the Great 226

Path 7 Divine Ascent 237

Loving God Through theThreefold Way Pseudo-Dionysius 239

The Cloud of Unknowing: The Sharp Darts of Longing Love 249

Entering Christ's Mansion Teresa of Avila 261

Illuminating the Dark Night John of the Cross 273

Conclusion 281

Appendix 1 Pre-Christian Influences on Our Life with God 285

Appendix 2 Christian Women and Spirituality 297

Appendix 3 The Contribution of the Eastern Orthodox Church 315

Acknowledgments 330

Notes 331

Index 348

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