Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Notes: "Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics: A Guide for Evangelicals," edited by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

Reading the Christian Spiritual Classics, edited by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel, is, as the title says, a guide for evangelicals. It starts by explaining what the spiritual classics are and then, helpfully, gives instruction on how to read them, how to avoid the dangers in reading them, and shows why they're worth reading. Then it goes into a chronological overview, introducing and giving context to works from the church fathers to the Puritans.

Full disclosure: I know at least five of the contributors to this book. But I didn't just read the sections of the folks I know--I read the whole thing, and enjoyed both being reminded of works I've loved, and being introduced to new-to-me classics.

To close, I really love this paragraph by Betsy Barber:

Due to the historical strangeness of many of these writings, it is beneficial to practice hospitality as we read: to entertain these ideas as guests. As with guests, you may not appreciate or benefit from all they say, but give them prayerful space and consideration for a time. Listen to the common family-of-God dialect in their words. 

You could do worse than just taking this book and reading through all of the works the contributors talk about, taking their chapters as a map to unfamiliar territory. I'm grateful for the work these contributors did in providing such a helpful "field guide" to modern evangelicals who want to read these primacy sources in church history.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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Michele Morin said...

I love the idea of practicing hospitality to an idea as I read. And I love the concept behind this book. My own background in Christian classics is very weak, so it would be helpful to have a road map to follow. Thanks for introducing me to this great resource.

hopeinbrazil said...

C.S. Lewis promoted this kind of hospitable reading and I have to admit that I'm far from where I want to be. It's a lot easier for me to go into a book wielding a sword of my own opinions rather than with grace and humility.

Jessica Snell said...

Michele - you're very welcome! And thank you for stopping by! :)

hopeinbrazil - I'm totally with you, there. It's hard to host new ideas! I think this kind of book helps me, because it has trustworthy people letting me know that these particular authors are at least worth considering. :)