This is a great book for many reasons. Too often spirituality is discussed without reference to the institutional church. Richard Foster, on the other hand, believes that our spirituality must be moored in a Christian community and so he traces the major spiritual streams that feed into and have influenced the church. They are:
- Imitatio (the imitation of Christ): the divine paradigm
- The contemplative tradition: prayer
- The holiness tradition: virtue
- The charismatic tradition: spirit-empowered
- The social justice tradition: compassion
- The evangelical tradition: the Word
- The incarnational tradition: the sacraments
In each section, he selects and presents the life of a biblical person, an historic figure and a more contemporary example, each of whom exemplify and have influenced that tradition. For me, it was a much easier way to study church history than the usual recitation of facts, people and dates. At the end of the chapter, there is a list of the major strengths and pitfalls of each stream, as well as ways to put it into practice.
You will see how these different streams have also rubbed against and affected each other. (it reminded me of something I learned about music and discussed in an previous post The Rub). Jesus, of course, as the “author and perfecter of our faith” combines the characteristics of all the traditions.
At the end of the book are appendices on critical turning points in church history, as well as notable figures and significant movements in the church. There is a wealth of information, presented in a style that is both interesting and easy to follow. I’m certainly recommending this one be kept in our church office so it can be loaned out to others.
In case you are wondering, Lutherans will identify most strongly with the evangelical and incarnational traditions — the evangelical because of it’s emphasis on the Word (solo scriptura) and the incarnational idea that all of our work and lives can be devoted to God (springing from Martin Luther’s linking of the religious sphere with everyday life).
VERDICT: 5 Stars. If you are interested in spirituality and church history, check this one out.
If you can get past the title, this is a great book. Sorry, but I grew out of my fascination with comics at age eleven, and I think comparing historic heresies to superheros trivializes a serious topic. However you really can’t judge a book by its’ cover! Author Todd Miles, who is a teacher at Western Seminary in Oregon knows his topic. He does an excellent job of covering seven major heresies and 2,000 years of church history in a manner that most laypeople will find clear and understandable.
Each chapter starts with his explanation of a particular superhero and how this hero represents one of the “bad ideas about Jesus.” (You can skip this part if you like.) He goes on to explain the exact belief of each heresy, the historic background, and how the heresy is manifested today. Finally he lays out what the Bible says that discredits the heresy, and why it is important that it be rejected. The chapter ends with questions for personal reflection or group discussion and suggestions for further study.
Verdict: This is a very readable book for those who want to learn more about the complex issues of the Trinity and Christology. It could easily be used for a group study. It would also be a good addition to any church library as it answers questions about some difficult theological concepts. I think any reader will come away with a deeper understanding of the person of Jesus. I would give it four out of five stars only because I didn’t like the silly pop culture theme — otherwise, it would be a five.
If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:
I started a new devotional book today, it’s called “Climbing with Abraham” by David Ramos. (by the way, I got it on my kindle through Bookbub FREE). The first devotional starts out by saying that most of the time, in the Bible, a person is first described by listing where they came from, who their parents were, etc.. The author says this is to show that their story begins long before they do.
The same is true of our churches. They have a story that began before we were members (at least most of the time). So when we join a church, we become part of a bigger story. As an adult I have been a member of two churches. The first was a mission congregation and although I was not a charter member, it was a “young” church. I got to be a church builder. I was there through more than 25 years and three locations. It was started by a small group of Midwesterners who wanted a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, and there were none in the area. My current congregation is “old”…. we just celebrated our 190th anniversary. It was started by German farmers who just wanted a Lutheran church in their community. In this congregation, I am maintaining a legacy.
My first congregation has grown and changed since my husband and I were called to St. Paul’s. A time will come when we leave St. Paul’s as well. We’re only a link in the chain that has kept these churches going. We will have spiritual descendants who will do the same.
So what’s your church’s story? What ‘s your role? Isn’t it exciting to be part of God’s plan? Send us your thoughts and comments.
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 46-47
I recently finished writing and editing a Bible study on the book of Acts for our denomination’s national women’s group (click on WMF on our header to learn more about them). If you want to learn more about the early history of the Church, Acts is the place to start.
Acts is an accurate historical record; even hostile critics have been unable to disprove the detailed political, geographical and cultural information given by Luke as he describes the spread of the Christianity.
It’s exciting reading. The book includes not only history but travelogues, inspiring sermons and speeches, miracles and even a shipwreck. It falls into a literary genre common to the time: a record of the great deeds of certain people or cities. In Acts you will learn about more than 100 people who along with many others in the early church “turned the world upside down.”(Acts 17:6).
I encourage you to read through Acts this month as we think about the church. What can we learn from the early followers of Christ? How did they respond to and resolve the problems they encountered? The daily lives of Christians and basic principles of ministry are set out in Acts and are still relevant to us today.
Let us know what you learn from these original believers. We want to hear from you.
Tomorrow my church, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran in Leitersburg, Md. is celebrating a birthday–190 years of proclaiming the gospel in our community. I’m on the anniversary committee and it has been a privilege and eye opener to study our church’s history.
One of our members has updated the church history, another has focused on pictures, and a third on the special memories people had of our congregation. Putting it all together, I was amazed(although I probably shouldn’t have been) to realize that the church has been doing the same thing all these years: baptizing, confirming, teaching, marrying, burying, proclaiming the gospel and serving others. The Church is the body of Christ, and like Christ is the same “yesterday, today and forever.” Also like Christ, the church through it’s service has touched innumerable people in many ways.
Our church’s mission statement is taken from the Founding Documents of 1826:
“It is our wish that here old and young will be edified, animated, encouraged and prepared for eternity.”
The verse selected by the anniversary committee is also an important one to study. It’s from 1 Corinthians 3:11:
“For no one can lay any foundation other than that which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Studying the past can help us plan for the future. St. Paul’s is built on a firm foundation. It’s a good idea to reflect upon that. If you would like to learn more about us, our history, our anniversary and what we are doing today, I hope you will click on “St. Paul’s” to visit our website.