We get asked about books often, and it is not always easy to know where to begin. I once was asked about books on spiritual formation, and I just couldn’t keep it to one and before long I had mentioned about twenty classical books that have influenced the church when it comes to spirituality. My questioner wasn’t happy with me. What she wanted was one book that introduces us to the history of Christian thinking about spiritual formation.
That book has now been written: Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion
Richard Foster, pictured above and the well-known author of many books on spiritual disciplines, and Gayle Beebe, pictured here and President at Westmont College, have co-written this introduction to the great writers about spiritual formation. This book could take a lifetime to work out. Not a lifetime to read, but this is exactly the kind of book students need: it introduces you to the greats and it invites you to follow up by reading the original texts.
Here are the topics, and under each topic the authors present the substantial ideas of a few of the masters:
Path 1: Right ordering of our love for God
Path 2: Spiritual life as a journey
Path 3: Recovery of knowledge of God lost in the fall
Path 4: Intimacy with Jesus Christ
Path 5: Right ordering of our experiences of God
Path 6: Action and contemplation
Path 7: Divine ascent