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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris Collier

    I actually think this book is pretty good. The authors review a lot of Christians throughout history and many reviews of their books. I gleamed a lot of wisdom, but probably most important is the authors’ ability to say, “hey, we don’t agree with everything this person wrote, but there is wisdom to be found in their story and writing.” It’s going to be a good reference book when I need a refresher on people like St. John of the Cross.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tapp

    The breadth of Christian history, philosophy, and literature covered here make it very close to a "must-read" for any Christian. Good books inspire you to read other, older books and this book excels at that like few others. While I understand that most of the book was researched and written by Beebe (over three years), Foster closes each chapter with his own personal takeaways and a devotional prayer. I highly recommend Foster's book on spiritual disciplines (see my review) before reading this The breadth of Christian history, philosophy, and literature covered here make it very close to a "must-read" for any Christian. Good books inspire you to read other, older books and this book excels at that like few others. While I understand that most of the book was researched and written by Beebe (over three years), Foster closes each chapter with his own personal takeaways and a devotional prayer. I highly recommend Foster's book on spiritual disciplines (see my review) before reading this one. How do we order our lives rightly in order to love God and grow in our faith? The authors explore the written works of several in church history in the area of spiritual disciplines: Origen, Evagrius Ponticus, Augustine, John Cassian, Gregory the Great, Benedict of Nursia, Ignatius of Loyola, Benedict, pseudo-Dionysius, St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas a Kempis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Blaise Pascal, John Bunyan, Thomas Merton, George Herbert, George Fox, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, John Wesley, St. Bonaventure, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and others. Each of these teachers, monks, theologians, and philosophers contributed something to the literature of a disciplined life and experienced God in unique ways. Each made contributions to the Western church that influenced others down the road. A feature of the book is that it allows you to see echoes of Platonic philosophy as incorporated by Augustine and passed on through Gregory, Thomas Aquinas, Pascal, Wesley, etc. Everyone on the list could be accused of being "neo-Platonic" but it's important to recognize Greek philosophy's role in developing European institutions, most prominently the Church. An appendix deals with pre-Christian philosophers who were known to influence the historical figures. Having recently finished Plato's Republic I find it interesting that the authors see the "cave" analogy as turning from our dark ignorance to God. Early Christians reportedly saw the importance of enlightened spiritually mature Christians to turn and help others less mature, just as Plato saw for the philosopher kings in his ideal society. Clement reputedly claimed Plato for the Christian purpose, arguing that Plato ultimately pointed to Christ. (Classical Christian schools today teach Latin and teach Platonic philosophy and dialectic from early grades based on the idea that Western Civilization, including Christianity, requires this as a foundation.) Many contributors come across as mystics, but the authors defend many of their positions as ultimately rooted in Scripture. Calvin, for example, wrote of the importance of oguidance by the Holy Spirit in choosing elders, deacons, and making decisions. But those revelations of the Holy SPirit worked in conjunction with the reading of Scripture. Fox wrote much about the spiritual experience-- the feelings-- but also had large sections of the Bible memorized. The authors assume some of the more supernatural experiences of the individuals were true. St. Francis, for example, experienced a stigmata that was testified to by many witnesses, and his life thereafter was markedly different. Others mentioned had some type of divine revelation or vision that changed them or influenced their thinking. The authors divide up the seven "paths" as follows. No path is "right or wrong" but all are aspects of a person's spiritual growth. One: The Right Ordering of Our Love for God Two: The Spiritual Life as Journey Three: The Recovery of Knowledge of God Lost in the Fall Four: Intimacy with Jesus Christ Five: The Right Ordering of Our Experiences of God Six: Action and Contemplation Seven: Diving Ascent The writing and philosophies of the various historical figures are categorized, non-chronologically, in these seven paths. The non-chronological aspect of the histories make it more difficult. One could really re-organize it into a much different book on the history of church thought. I particularly liked the perspective on Gregory the Great as one of the forerunners of the "work as worship" movement. He taught how to worship in the mundane tasks of ordinary life, as Luther did much later. A weakness of the book is the inclusion of some like pseudo-Dyonisius. If there is ever an accident of history, it's him. While his writing was incredibly influential and is essential to the foundation of Eastern Orthodoxy, the fact that he was given authoritative credence on false pretenses should discredit much of what the authors might want us to glean from this account. Schleiermacher is also a surprise, but the authors write that you have to understand him in his context-- he was arguing for Christianity in a time and place when atheism and humanism were on the ascendance; as such, he was persecuted. Against that backdrop, he does not appear so bad. Where the authors stick with the importance of examining our personal experiences and beliefs with Scripture, they do well. Where they appear to stray from that, it gets a little murky. But the entire book is enlightening on Christian history and the context in which the contributors-- many of them martyred-- were writing. I give this book four stars out of five. I look forward to reading some of the examined works myself.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Reid

    Beebe and Foster write an interesting book about the history of Christian paths of devotion to God. They come up with seven based on the lives and intimate experiences with God of over two dozen people: One: The Right Ordering of Our Love for God Two: The Spiritual Life as Journey Three: The Recovery of Knowledge of God Lost in the Fall Four: Intimacy with Jesus Christ Five: The Right Ordering of Our Experiences of God Six: Action and Contemplation Seven: Diving Ascent The appendices briefly mention ano Beebe and Foster write an interesting book about the history of Christian paths of devotion to God. They come up with seven based on the lives and intimate experiences with God of over two dozen people: One: The Right Ordering of Our Love for God Two: The Spiritual Life as Journey Three: The Recovery of Knowledge of God Lost in the Fall Four: Intimacy with Jesus Christ Five: The Right Ordering of Our Experiences of God Six: Action and Contemplation Seven: Diving Ascent The appendices briefly mention another six dozen or so people. Here's what they conclude: "These 'paths,' of course, are not exclusive of one another. No one path is "right" and the others "wrong". Indeed, they overlap and intertwine and mingle with each other. Likely, we will find ourselves on one path or another at different seasons of our life." And, "Only one thing is essential for us to move forward in this life with God." I found the descriptions of the life and work of these nine dozen people to be very interesting, some I had heard of others I had not. I have been ignorant of most of the essence of what these people emphasized. What I find amazing, is the way that Beede can summarize the belief systems of so many folks WITHOUT CONDEMNING OR DE-VALUING. He seems to give his most accurate assessment of their lives and beliefs about God. Foster does come closer to putting value judgments on some of these folks but again, from a layperson's growing perspective, I found some of these folks --- how do you say --- wacky, hard to swallow. Beedee and Foster seem to be able to have a high tolerance for acceptance and the ability to 'take the meat and leave the bones.' It actually stretched me in that way, to have a greater patience to come to understand differing spiritual experiences and theological understandings. I'd read this book again in a few years, maybe.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Great book! Think of it as spiritual biography. This volume looks at seven different pathways/frameworks that the church has historically used in understanding the spiritual life in general and spiritual formation in particular. For each pathway three to four historical figures are featured, each among the great names in Christian spirituality throughout the centuries. Gayle Beebe, who wrote most of this volume (and who is an amazing scholar and writer - I look forward to his next book), begins Great book! Think of it as spiritual biography. This volume looks at seven different pathways/frameworks that the church has historically used in understanding the spiritual life in general and spiritual formation in particular. For each pathway three to four historical figures are featured, each among the great names in Christian spirituality throughout the centuries. Gayle Beebe, who wrote most of this volume (and who is an amazing scholar and writer - I look forward to his next book), begins each chapter with an analysis of that particular figure's thought and their contribution to the church's thinking on spiritual formation. Each chapter ends with a shorter reflection by Richard Foster, who brings a deep familiarity and experience to each figure's work. One gets the feeling that Foster has spent considerable time with each historical figure, understanding their thoughts, practicing the different disciplines that each recommends, etc. I read this book like a devotional, spending two to three days on each historical figure. It was fascinating as biography as well as spiritually nourishing. For those enjoying this volume and finding themselves wanting more, I suggest Foster's Devotional Classics, and Lawson's Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians. Highly recommended!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    This was a good book, but it was stuck in the middle. It not only covered seven approaches to spiritual growth, it covered them from St. Augustine to the 20th century. So he discussed so many people. The reason I say it's stuck in the middle is that each person was given not enough space to fully embrace. It felt like a lot of the book was reading bullet point summaries of historical figures and cliff notes summaries of their books. Just when I'd think I wasn't going to read anymore, he would st This was a good book, but it was stuck in the middle. It not only covered seven approaches to spiritual growth, it covered them from St. Augustine to the 20th century. So he discussed so many people. The reason I say it's stuck in the middle is that each person was given not enough space to fully embrace. It felt like a lot of the book was reading bullet point summaries of historical figures and cliff notes summaries of their books. Just when I'd think I wasn't going to read anymore, he would start applying the ideas to modern life and the book would come back to life. So I think he could have shortened the book (fewer examples of each path) or lengthened the book (gone deeper into each example) and it would have been much better. So if you're up for plowing through a lot of historical and literature summaries, then this is a good book. But if you're looking for a devotional book, not the best. Sadly, not the best historical book either. It's somewhere in the middle.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matthew J. Winbow

    This is an excellent introduction to Christian spirituality through the lens of various spiritual authors from throughout church history. I enjoyed the sections on Origen, Augustine, Martin Luther, George Fox, John Wesley and John of the Cross. This is a great overview of the various paths of Christian spirituality that we might walk upon in order to know and experience God in our daily lives. Well worth a read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Scott

    Excellent! In addition to being an excellent introduction to Christian spirituality itself, this book also provides a fabulous overview of classic Christian spiritual authors from throughout church history. Introductions to such luminaries as Augustine of Hippo, Theresa of Avila, and George Herbert, a great read for anyone seeking a pathway to a deeper Christian life

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a re-read for me. It's probably my third time through this guide into seven paths of Christian devotion. The great cloud of witnesses always calls to me. I need this refreshing in my life to "prime the pump" in my prayer life. This is a re-read for me. It's probably my third time through this guide into seven paths of Christian devotion. The great cloud of witnesses always calls to me. I need this refreshing in my life to "prime the pump" in my prayer life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline W

    Interesting summary of a lot of Christian thinkers of past ages. It has rekindled my interest in revisiting some of those I'd already read as well as passion to find others mentioned that I'd not encountered before. Interesting summary of a lot of Christian thinkers of past ages. It has rekindled my interest in revisiting some of those I'd already read as well as passion to find others mentioned that I'd not encountered before.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Geren

    *3.5 Good content, but very dense. I listened to it and had a hard time focusing at times. There were good, challenging parts. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Foster’s other works.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sena Brickwedel

    I bought it to read during a fast, but it wasn’t what I expected. The fault was mine though. It is an interesting teaser to some of the deeper content from Christian contemplatives.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This was an incredibly deep experience in meeting and learning from the great cloud of witnesses as the saints.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Markham

    It is so thought provoking to read the works of the early church fathers and particularly so when guided by those who have studied their work in detail. The authors take the reader on a journey through the centuries visiting amazing women and men of God. At each stop we lean the contribution of they made to the challenge of walking with God and then are treated to a reflection on its application. Well worth a slow measured read

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Marlow

    This, providing a guide to the classic writers on spirituality, is best understood as a primer and reference book, but with a devotional edge. Written by two giants of spiritual formation, this seeks to encompass many centuries of wisdom, summarising the thought of theologians as wide-ranging as Augustine of Hippo, John Bunyan, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Gregory the Great, and Teresa of Avila. Its chapters are brief, describing the theologian in question, the theology This, providing a guide to the classic writers on spirituality, is best understood as a primer and reference book, but with a devotional edge. Written by two giants of spiritual formation, this seeks to encompass many centuries of wisdom, summarising the thought of theologians as wide-ranging as Augustine of Hippo, John Bunyan, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Gregory the Great, and Teresa of Avila. Its chapters are brief, describing the theologian in question, the theology of their approach to intimacy with God, and a reflection at the end. A major appeal of this book is that it has seven sections, each representing different pathways to God, and groups the theologians under these themes. The seven pathways describe the spiritual life as: The right ordering of our love for God: - Journey - Recovery of the knowledge of God lost in the Fall - Intimacy with Jesus Christ - Right ordering of our experiences of God - Action and contemplation - Divine ascent. Because it’s summarising deep theology in a few pages, it’s best read slowly, but for anyone new to the subject of spirituality or these Christian classics, it’s a great reference book to have. Highly recommended. *I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, which this is*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    Really wanted to like this book, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion by Beebe and Foster. I had hoped that it would be a modern day classic explaining the best in spiritual writing and creating within the reader a genuine hunger for God. However, I was disappointed. The book attempts to cover too much ground by only giving us a Cliff Notes version of each spiritual writer's best known work. The writing style becomes redundant with each chapter listing stages of growth for the Chri Really wanted to like this book, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion by Beebe and Foster. I had hoped that it would be a modern day classic explaining the best in spiritual writing and creating within the reader a genuine hunger for God. However, I was disappointed. The book attempts to cover too much ground by only giving us a Cliff Notes version of each spiritual writer's best known work. The writing style becomes redundant with each chapter listing stages of growth for the Christian life. The author(s) kept speaking of achieving union with Christ, yet the Bible speaks of the believer as already being in union with Christ through his death, burial, and resurrection (Col.3, Rom.6) What we lack is deeper communion with Christ not present union in Christ. The author's writing style lacked passion, I felt that I was reading a Master's thesis instead a book that was written to draw me into a deeper life with God. I might suggest James Houston's audio course (Regent College) on the *History of Prayer.* Houston does what this book attempts to do: Insights into the great spiritual writers while burning within the believer a powerful passion for knowing Christ.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Written jointly by Beebe and Foster, Beebe did most of the writing, while Foster wrote the reflection pieces that ended each chapter. The book divides spiritual devotion into seven (never discrete) paths and examines three or four different figures from the Christian past who pursued God in that way. As such it provides a small glimpse and opening into particular saints, offering their life and thought as challenges to our day and practice. The summaries pick particular aspects of thought (hard Written jointly by Beebe and Foster, Beebe did most of the writing, while Foster wrote the reflection pieces that ended each chapter. The book divides spiritual devotion into seven (never discrete) paths and examines three or four different figures from the Christian past who pursued God in that way. As such it provides a small glimpse and opening into particular saints, offering their life and thought as challenges to our day and practice. The summaries pick particular aspects of thought (hard to contain Aquinas, Calvin, or even Francis in 6-12 pages) and encourage a pursuit of God. I liked dipping into it and was encouraged to reread figures I had read before. The division between the writers in the chapter could have been better handled - Beebe's work was academic (not a criticism, at least from me), while Foster's more breezy/pastoral, with room for application.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Chen

    It's difficult to read when you're perpetually eye-rolling. The authors write a lot about what different people thought about the spiritual life. But they apparently forgot to ask GOD (through the Bible) what HE thinks about the spiritual life. So, yeah, it’s pretty boring to read a lot of extra-biblical speculation. (Of course, some of this could be consonant with the Bible. But the authors don't make much effort to root many ideas in the Bible, and much of it seems like arbitrary speculation.) It's difficult to read when you're perpetually eye-rolling. The authors write a lot about what different people thought about the spiritual life. But they apparently forgot to ask GOD (through the Bible) what HE thinks about the spiritual life. So, yeah, it’s pretty boring to read a lot of extra-biblical speculation. (Of course, some of this could be consonant with the Bible. But the authors don't make much effort to root many ideas in the Bible, and much of it seems like arbitrary speculation.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick Benson

    OK but I'd hoped for more. It's a description of various spiritualities and the approaches of those associated with them; perhaps inevitably, given the ground covered, it soon begins to feel a mechanical listing of stages in our relationship with God. I'm not sure how possible it is to do this helpfully when dealing with other people - attempting this type of analysis of friendship with God seems to great a stretch. OK but I'd hoped for more. It's a description of various spiritualities and the approaches of those associated with them; perhaps inevitably, given the ground covered, it soon begins to feel a mechanical listing of stages in our relationship with God. I'm not sure how possible it is to do this helpfully when dealing with other people - attempting this type of analysis of friendship with God seems to great a stretch.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    This book is so full of wisdom, and information. The authors look back through Christian history, giving us small summaries of the thinking and beliefs of some of the most significant thinkers and theologians in Christian history, from the very earliest times, and from those grounded in reason, to the great mystics. Regardless of a person's own belief system, there is much to think about, and in inspired by, here. This book is so full of wisdom, and information. The authors look back through Christian history, giving us small summaries of the thinking and beliefs of some of the most significant thinkers and theologians in Christian history, from the very earliest times, and from those grounded in reason, to the great mystics. Regardless of a person's own belief system, there is much to think about, and in inspired by, here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a life changing book. Foster delves into the lives and influences of seven paths of Chirstian devotion. He explores such saints as Augustine, Blasie Pascal, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther and many of the Desert Fathers. I am loving this book. Humilty is the trait that stands out the most as I read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    pianogal

    Interesting kickstarter...it's really more of a Cliff's Notes version of the writings than the writings themselves - which was disappointing. It did, however, give me a good place to start to expand my reading and the writers insights were helpful. Interesting kickstarter...it's really more of a Cliff's Notes version of the writings than the writings themselves - which was disappointing. It did, however, give me a good place to start to expand my reading and the writers insights were helpful.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    If you want Christian history in brief then yes, it was good. However, it's not an easy read by any means and indiscriminately delves into those with questionable theology without much comment. I finished this book out of principle more so than desire to read it. If you want Christian history in brief then yes, it was good. However, it's not an easy read by any means and indiscriminately delves into those with questionable theology without much comment. I finished this book out of principle more so than desire to read it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Enjoyed the book. Made me think about the different ways of worshipping God. Will probably have to read again as there was a fair amount of information to digest. Really helped by the summing up at the end of each chapter and the accompanying prayer.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Irm

    I really like this book because of the mini-summaries of some of the key Christians through history from Julian of Norwich to St. Augustine to Pseudo-Dionysus to St. Benedict. Excellent.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Lots of information on important people. Very formulaic. Lots of lists. We,do not really get a good feel for the people the authors discuss. The lists and charts got very, very old.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    The tale of two books...I Ike some of it a lot and other parts not at all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Snead

    Last section seemed most applicable. I would definitely want to read this with a group.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    audiobook

  29. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    Didn't finish this one...love the concept, but somehow didnt grab me like I hoped. Maybe I'll come back to it in the future. I'll still use it as a reference. Didn't finish this one...love the concept, but somehow didnt grab me like I hoped. Maybe I'll come back to it in the future. I'll still use it as a reference.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Elliott

    enjoyed especially the look at historical church figures.

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