Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J Thompson
There are a lot of great books about spiritual formation. This is one of them. Marjorie J Thompson’s book, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Lifeis a wonderful book. It gives some great insight and tools for spiritual disciplines, and in turn spiritual formation. This is an easy and very enjoyable read. It is a book that could be easily read in a weekend, but I recommend you take your time with this one. Thompson describes in her introduction on page xix how we are seeing a “tsunami of change” today in the world and in “emerging Christianity.”
There were several things that stood out that I could mention in this book. On page 23, Thompson, talking about Lectio Divina, describes four basic phrases in Latin that lends itself to this spiritual discipline. I like how she calls Lection Divina “the dance.” She describes how this meditation style had historical roots both in Jewish and Christian practices. Her chapter on New Testament Sabbath was very interesting, and captures the essence of valuing and guarding “the sacred rhythm of Sabbath” on page 73.
Thompson mentions how rarely modern pastors, at least in the United States, practice a regular Sabbath, and how putting these spiritual disciplines into action in our lives can lead us to spiritual formation. (I will write a future blog on the theology, and practical reasons to practice a sabbath rest).
Thompson’s section on fasting is very informative. I don’t remember ever reading another author writing about fasting who brings up reasons for not fasting. She addresses the issue of a person fasting as a matter of pride. If one finds themselves fasting out of pride, they are better off not fasting. Perhaps I have read that in other places, but it has never been as clear and concise as she puts it. She writes on page 87, “There is no reason to push yourself to heroic efforts where fasting is concerned. If you feel tempted to do so, take a hard look at your motives.” She clearly points out the danger of pride in our efforts to fast. Pride should never be our motive.
In summary, this is a really good book. It is shorter than a lot of books on spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines. But don’t let the size fool you. There is a lot packed in this short volume. I found it very helpful in my own personal life, and would recommend it without hesitation to anyone looking to draw closer to God
Book Review of The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, Edited by Alan Andrews
This is a wonderful, life changing book. This is not said lightly. I do a lot of reading in spiritual formation, and much of what I read is mediocre. This book is excellent, well thought out, and well edited. Each chapter comes from a leader in spiritual formation as they explore the basic elements of spiritual formation as well as the theology of spiritual formation. It starts out with a chapter by Dallas Willard, and has other authors such as Keith Meyer; Peggy Reynoso; Paula Fuller; Bruce Demarest; Richard E. Averbeck and several others.
Bill Hull talks about how, for many Christians, we have been given a false notion about our spiritual walk. He says on page 106, “A young person who also is an new Christian often has a vision of his or her religious future. But often that vision is inaccurate.” He goes on to explain how Christians often think that as they get older they will naturally draw closer to Jesus, and temptation to sin will simply go away. He later writes on the same page, “The inexperienced follower of Jesus knows that his or her spiritual formation is a lifelong experience. Life continues to surprise those who live it.”
This book gives a great breakdown of the theology behind spiritual formation. It doesn’t just make you “feel good” about spiritual formation, but demonstrates from scripture the practical aspects. It acts as a guide through the scriptures looking at various aspects of spiritual formation and the spiritual disciplines.
My recommendation is you pick up a copy of this book if you are serious about understanding spiritual formation and getting a solid foundation for why you believe what you believe about being a disciple of Jesus Christ.