A Review of Richard J. Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth”, Part 1 -- By: Brad Doskocil

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 32:62 (Spring 2019)
Article: A Review of Richard J. Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth”, Part 1
Author: Brad Doskocil

A Review of Richard J. Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth”, Part 1

Brad Doskocil

GES Board

I. Introduction

Richard J. Foster has written numerous books and is founder of Renovaré, a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to promoting spiritual formation through the use of spiritual disciplines. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth1 was first published in 1978 with subsequent versions published in 1988, 1989, and 2018. This is a review of the fortieth anniversary edition published in 2018.

The book is written in an engaging style. In addition, who can argue that discipline or spiritual disciplines are not important to living the Christian life? The Apostle Paul said that he buffeted his body to make it his slave (1 Cor 9:27). In that context Paul was stressing being disciplined and intentional in serving the Lord.

Spiritual disciplines are something every Christian should practice. However, the Biblical record about spiritual disciplines is a bit different from what is offered by Foster. Foster derives his methods of practicing spiritual disciplines mostly from ancient Catholic mystics.

Celebration is organized into four parts. There is an introduction followed by sections describing inward disciplines, outward disciplines, and corporate disciplines. He discusses many things under each category. The question is whether the practices which Foster promotes are Biblical. To answer that, I will look at Celebration one

chapter at a time, with each heading corresponding to its respective chapter title in Celebration.

II. The Spiritual Disciplines: Door To Liberation

Foster says the problem spiritual people have is superficiality. He encourages them to become deep people. We can be the answer to a hollow world through the “classical disciplines”2 (p. 1). These disciplines allow us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.

He wants us to have contact with the spiritual world. He is not pointing us to Christ, but to a mystical experience based on practices of mystics of the past, and not necessarily the Bible. Paul warned us of this in Col 2:8: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

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