I read a lot of Christian books. One of my three huge Ikea shelves is pretty much filled with them, ranging from systematic theology to inspirational crap. This is what I get for having a degree in theology.
Most of these books aren’t for everyone. Not everyone needs Paul Tillch’s Systematic Theology or NT Wright’s New Testament and the People of God, and there’s not a whole lot I would recommend to everyone unless they were genuinely interest in the subject material. It’s just not necessary.
However, this is not the case with The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I found this book to be so insightful, so full of wonderful treasures and helpful understandings that, had I a bigger bank account, I would buy this book for every Christian on the planet (well, for anyone who would want to read it at least, Christian or non).
CoD is an excellent exploration of the need for Christians to pursue a more disciplined life of the Spirit. These days, we’re far too concerned with what feels good and “just letting the Spirit lead us,” and a return to a life of Discipline is in order. Foster outlines three different types of discipline (inward, outward, and corporate), and four different disciplines to follow per type. Each one is designed to lead into the next, and each is based not only in Scripture but also in the traditions of the great Christian mystics over the last 2000 years. The book is thoroughly researched and well-written, to boot.
What I loved most about this book, however, was Fosters’ ability to describe the true nature of discipline. Many people in my generation look at discipline as oppressive rather than liberating, as if being disciplined and ordered in one’s life meant you couldn’t be spontaneous and fun. To be honest, I was one of these people. However, prior to even reading this book, I found this to be completely untrue. All credit for this goes to my wife, who showed me how to budget my money and stick to it. In displaying the Disciplines as liberating, Foster opens up whole new doors for Christians to pursue God and to learn about the world around them and work within it. He actually got me excited about establishing a routine for meditation, prayer, and Bible study!
I also loved how his book purposely spans nearly every denomination while still carrying a distinctly Quaker flavor (Foster is a Quaker minister). He’s not afraid to acknowledge and praise other men and women of different denominations for the way in which they pursued and found God, yet he remains true to his roots, and does so without trying to convince the reader to be Quaker. Rather, he shows the catholic (universal) manner in which all great Christians have come to know God and pursued Him throughout their lives. It’s an incredibly uniting way of doing things.
Anyway, read this book. It’s awesome.