Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline

I must say that while I personally found Dallas Willard’s (a mentor and close friend of Foster) Spirit of the Disciplines more profound and powerful overall, I nonetheless found Celebration of Discipline to be more thought provoking and practical (if that makes any sense at all!). In other words, while I do not think I can call this book the best book I’ve read on the Christian disciplines, I can say it is certainly one of the best and probably will endure as a classic after all. I can also say that if one were to read Willard and Foster together, one would come away with a radically different and heightened appreciation of the importance of the disciplines for Christians today.

Foster does a masterful job of handling the disciplines. He deals with “The Inward Disciplines” (meditation, prayer, fasting, study), “The Outward Disciplines” (simplicity, solitude, submission, service), and “The Corporate Disciplines” (confession, worship, guidance, celebration). His approach to each is informative, unique, and inspiring.

My one reservation about this book is that it almost seems at points to flirt with psychological categories more than straight exegesis. Let me be quick to qualify this, however. The book is thoroughly biblical and Foster more than once explicitly says (and demonstrates) that the Bible is to be our guide in all matters. Furthermore, there is nothing in this book that I would consider to be blatantly “anti-biblical.” Yet Foster’s use of words like “centering” and some of his concepts regarding the use of imagination in prayer may make some a little uneasy. His section on meditation might strike the modern Evangelical as odd, but I would venture to guess that this perception would be due more to our neglect of such a concept than to any alleged false teachings behind it. All of this is to say that the reader should read carefully and critically.

In all, however, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to the discerning reader. I feel a heightened sense of urgency in my own life concerning the disciplines after having read this and I sincerely believe that Foster has done a brilliant job of pinpointing some areas in which the modern Church has failed and is suffering due to its lack of attention to these ideas. I believe you will be greatly blessed by this book.

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