In the previous edition of the JOTGES, I began a review of Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.1 In that article I covered the first eight chapters of the book. It was concluded that in those chapters, which deal with various spiritual disciplines, Foster has an unbiblical emphasis on mystical experiences. He does not simply rely on the Word of God to transform the believer through the Holy Spirit.
In this article, I will review the remaining chapters in the book. Each section will deal with the chapter titles of the book; every chapter discusses a specific discipline.2
This chapter begins with a description of Jesus’ twelve disciples arguing over who was the greatest among them. At Jesus’ last Passover, He teaches them once again about greatness. Jesus washes their feet and tells them to follow His example (John 13:14-15). Jesus once again demonstrates that greatness is about service, self-denial, and humility. Foster here has made a good observation. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each present greatness in Jesus’ kingdom in light of these qualities.
Foster says that “the discipline of service…abolishes our need (and desire) for a ‘pecking order (p. 127).’” He then quotes Matt 20:25-26 in which Jesus tells His disciples:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant (p. 127).
Foster observes that Jesus completely rejected the idea of how the world defines greatness (p. 127).
It is commendable that Foster here derives his points from the Bible instead of devotional masters or mystics of past ages. By treating service as a discipline, he once again takes a learn-by-doing approach. He hopes that by practicing service, adherents will become servants. Unfortunately, he does not mention eternal rewards for service. Jesus frequently taught eternal rewards and greatness in His kingdom as the benefit of serving Him in a self-sacrificial manner with humility.3
A. Self-Righteous Service
Foster then distinguishes true service from “self-righteous” service: the latter comes through human effort, while the former arises from “whispered promptings, divine urgings” (p. 128). Once again, we are introduced to Foster’s mystical ways. According to Foster, service comes through being audibly told by God to do something, not from things we are told in the Bible.
While not mentioning the Pharisees by name, Foster’s description of self-righteous service is reminiscent of them. Instead, he describes in practical terms various kinds of self-righteous service. Such service is concerned with the “big deal” instead of small tasks. It requires external rewards and seeks human applause and acknowledgement. There is an expectation of quid pro quo which focuses on results. As a result, it picks and chooses whom to serve and thus discriminates. In addition, moods and feelings affect how one serves. This results in temporary service since it happens only when specific acts of service are being performed.
Self-righteous service is insensitive and can be an affront to the dignity of the one being served. Often it can fracture a church community because those who are serving are seeking their own glory (p. 128-29).
B. True Service
In contrast, true service seeks opportunities no matter how big or small and welcomes all opportunities. It also is content with divine approval, instead of human applause. Results do not need to be calculated since it simply delights in serving.
There is no discrimination since true service serves all. It functions because there is a need, not because of emotions or feelings. Those who perform true service do so because it is a lifestyle. This means it is not temporary or fleeting. True service is caring and seeks to build community, not tear it down.
These are all good practical observations about service and are Biblically based. However, Foster does not cite many Biblical references.
Foster also discusses humility. His premise is that we become humble only by practicing the discipline of service. Once again, Foster reveals that spiritual disciplines regularly practiced are the only means to grow spiritually. This is at odds with Scriptures like Rom 12:2-3 in which Paul admonishes Christians to renew their minds in order to be transformed and develop sound judgment. Foster also does not consider a verse like 2 Pet 3:18 which commands us to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
D. Counting the Cost
Next, Foster addresses those who might be hesitant to practice service. He makes a Biblical observation when he says, “it is wise to count the cost before plunging headlong into any discipline” (p. 132). Jesus told His followers to count the cost of discipleship.
The reason for Foster’s comment about counting the cost is that there is a difference between choosing to serve and being a servant. He observes that when we choose to serve, we remain in control. We decide whom we will serve and when we will serve. If we remain in control, we are likely to worry about people stepping on us or taking advantage of us (p. 132). These are good observations. People can certainly hurl abuse when we serve them.
However, if we choose to be a servant, we are no longer in charge. We are now slaves. This frees us not to worry about being abused. We can serve others by exhibiting God’s grace. Jesus Himself was abused by those whom He served. So was Paul. Paul endured many hardships and insults while serving the Lord (e.g. 2 Cor 11:23-28).
E. Miscellaneous Observations
Foster sees being a servant as different from performing service. Being a servant is “a way of living” or lifestyle (p. 134). To cultivate this lifestyle, Foster describes several different types of service Christians should practice.
There is the service of hiddenness, which is performing service in a concealed manner. The servant becomes anonymous. There is also the service of small things. This is being helpful in small matters, such as fetching a drink for someone thirsty.
Another way to serve is to guard the reputation of others. This often involves holding one’s tongue. It is not engaging in slander or gossip about someone.
Foster lists a number of ways to serve, which most do not consider. There is the service of being served. We must allow others to serve us. Common courtesy is another form of service, as is being gentle. Foster also includes the Biblical idea of hospitality. Christians should be willing to welcome others into their homes.
In addition, there is the service of listening to others. Christians should truly listen to others and hear what they say. Moreover, there is the service of bearing the burdens of others. This can be grieving with a friend. Finally, there is the service of sharing the word of life with another. Christians should share with others any word received from God. According to Foster, this is any word God has audibly spoken. He once again turns to mystical ideas. In Foster’s view, this is not merely sharing thoughts about a passage of Scripture (pp. 134-40).
He makes some good observations about service and being a servant. His approach is learn-by-doing. While this is an effective way to train, the manner Foster suggests lacks spiritual dynamic. He does not mention belief in God’s Word as necessary for spiritual growth or transformation. He does not discuss the power of God’s Word, the Bible, to transform a person’s thinking. If a person does not see the need to be a servant from what the Bible teaches, then practicing the discipline of service will not have the desired impact. The Bible teaches the believer that he is a slave of Jesus Christ. That forms the basis of why we should serve.
At this point in the book, Foster turns to corporate disciplines.
Foster begins this chapter by saying that God wants to give and forgive. It is who He is. After describing what Jesus did in securing redemption from sin, he says that eternal salvation is both an event and a process. He then links confession to this process. It is the discipline necessary to grow spiritually.
While Foster recognizes that confession is a private matter between an individual and God, he says there is a corporate aspect as well (p. 145). He then states the need to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another; he cites Jas 5:16 in support. As will be seen, Foster believes confession should be between people. However, he does not mention the context of Jas 5:16 or any limitations the context might suggest regarding the kind of confession he is going to promote.
There is also the recognition that confessing sins to other people is difficult (p. 145). Foster lists several reasons for this, including how we view the church community. But the biggest hesitancy in confessing to one another is found in the notion that “we cannot bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others” (p. 145). In Foster’s opinion, this is because we think other people in the church are much holier than we are.
Foster then observes that if we view our church as a body of sinners, we realize we are not alone. This should free us to confess to one another. In mutual confession, the power of healing is released, and we are transformed (p. 146).
To bolster his argument, Foster says that “followers of Jesus Christ have been given the authority to receive confession of sin and to forgive it in his name,” citing John 20:23 as support (p. 146). However, John 20:23 talks about forgiving others. It does not necessarily suggest confession of sins between believers. People frequently sin against others. Jesus’ remedy is forgiveness (e.g. Matt 18:22).
To support the idea of confessing sins to other believers, Foster cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He maintains that when the believer goes to a brother to confess his sins, he is going to God (p. 146). This is followed by a discussion about the history and good things that spring from this form of confession.
Foster then decries personal confession to God, saying that it often leads to frustration. He states that such a practice often also leads to a fear that we have not made confession to God but to ourselves. As a result, personal confession of sin to God simply does not work as we doubt we have found forgiveness (p. 146).
However, this negative view of personal confession to God is rooted in unbelief. Foster is describing a person who doubts God’s ability to forgive even though Scripture tells us God forgives when we confess our sin to Him (1 John 1:9). It also calls into question Jesus’ work on the cross. Either Jesus paid for every sin of mankind for all of time, or He did not. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for the sin of all, and so God is free to forgive when we confess our sin to Him. If we believe Him, then we will have assurance that we are forgiven.
For Foster, belief is not enough. He requires an experience so that he can feel forgiven. Thus, when a person feels the despair associated with a lack of forgiveness after private confession, Foster’s answer is confession to another brother or sister.
He now describes the benefits of confession to others, which he calls the “confessional” or “sacrament of penance.” One advantage is that we cannot blame others for our sin (p. 148), which we are prone to do. While he does not say it, the implication is that in private confession we might excuse ourselves by blaming others. Such cannot happen when confessing to a brother. It seems to this reviewer that this is not necessarily the case.
Another advantage of the confessional is that there is a word of forgiveness given in the absolution (p. 148). The person confessing is told he or she is forgiven. For Foster, this experience is freeing. It is as if God proclaims this forgiveness, and the confessing believer has assurance that he has received it.
The third advantage of the confessional is penance (p. 148). Foster views penance as a way to pause and consider the seriousness of the crimes committed against God. He sees penance as a means of admonishing one to live a more holy life.
Foster then describes a personal account about how he felt when he confessed sin to a fellow believer. In this discussion, he emphasizes his experience. Foster gains assurance from experiences, not from believing God’s word.
In concluding this chapter, Foster gives practical advice on giving and receiving confession. He encourages believers to find a safe person with whom to make their confession. Not everyone can keep confidences.
Sadly, Foster only considers confession to another person as real. Once again he puts emphasis on experience instead of belief.
According to Foster, when one worships, he experiences reality. It is “to know, to feel, to experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community” (p. 158). He adds that “worship is the human response to the divine initiative.” Once again, we notice Foster’s emphasis on human experience.
He is quite clear that the object of worship is God. Jesus has revealed God to us (p. 159). He adds that we worship the Lord not only because of who He is, but also because of what He has done (p. 160). This reviewer is in complete agreement on this point.
Foster encourages us to prioritize worship. It should be a major priority in our lives and lived out daily (p. 160). Every day we should be quick to praise God, thank Him, and show adoration for Him (p. 161). These are good observations and are things done individually. Foster rightly understands that private worship has a bearing on corporate worship, which is going to be his main emphasis.
According to Foster, we must prepare to worship. This involves coming to corporate worship with a “holy expectation” (p. 161). He explains that those who worship need to expect God to show up in miraculous ways and that His presence will be manifest, much like the Shekinah glory of the OT. In building up this expectancy, Foster encourages the use of imagination. We are to conjure up mental images of God’s presence in our midst (p. 163).
Once again we see that Foster emphasizes experience. Here it is the experience of God’s presence. He does not mention that God is omnipresent or that He has promised to be with the believer forever (Matt 28:20). Nor does he mention that every church age believer is indwelled by God the Holy Spirit, and therefore God is with every believer at all times.
Foster says that God’s presence is manifested when the church is gathered for worship. The individual parts become one. It is in this gathering where the participants experience koinōnia, which Foster describes as “deep inward fellowship in the power of the Spirit” (p. 164). This Greek word koinōnia can describe any kind of sharing. Many things can be shared when saints gather.
A gathering for corporate worship necessitates a leader. Foster is quick to point out that “genuine worship has only one Leader, Jesus Christ” (p. 165). By this he means that Jesus is alive and present among His people. His voice and presence are known. Foster once again slips into mysticism here when he proclaims that we not only read about Christ in the Scriptures, we can know him by revelation (p. 165).
What are Foster’s “holy expectations” of these worship gatherings? He tells us. We should expect to see miracles and healings. These should be the rule, not the exception. He tells us we should be experiencing the Book of Acts. In addition, any or all the gifts of the Spirit can be freely exercised and freely received. He has expectation that the sign gifts will be readily seen and experienced (p. 165).
Foster does not mention or discuss whether the sign gifts have ceased. He does not discuss or make mention of the fact that Paul could not heal people later in his life (Phil 2:25-27; 2 Tim 4:20). In addition, he does not address Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13 concerning the cessation of gifts. These would negate Foster’s views of ideal worship.
A. Avenues of Worship
Next, there is a discussion on the “avenues into worship” (p. 166). This section begins by explaining why worship is a spiritual discipline. Through this discipline, God can transform us.
To accomplish this transformation, the first avenue into worship is “to still all humanly initiated activity” (p. 166). By this he means we are to live in perpetual silence and listening so that God is the source of our words and actions. In other words, we should be practicing silence and listening for God to audibly speak to us and tell us what to do each moment of the day.
Praise is another avenue into worship. Foster cites the Psalms as an example of praise. Here he introduces the idea that such praise should involve our whole being. Our emotions need to be brought into the act of worship. This dovetails with singing and music. It is clear that music is designed to stir the emotions. Singing is meant to move us to praise God.
Foster praises the charismatic movement for its emphasis on emotions as part of worship. He remarks that worship is one reason for the gift of tongues (p. 169). Tongues “helps us move beyond mere rational worship into a more inward communion with the Father.” For Foster, tongues are not known languages. Our minds may not even know what is being said. But our inward spirit does understand (p. 169). Strangely, Foster does not mention or discuss Paul’s admonition that church meetings are to be orderly, nor does he mention the need for an interpreter when tongues are exercised.4
Foster believes worship is physical and involves our whole being. He briefly mentions that the words used in the Bible for worship mean to prostrate oneself. This is a welcome comment since to be prostrate before another was a display of adoration and humility, necessary ingredients of worship.
B. Steps for Worship
Foster provides steps for worship. These are his practical suggestions for doing worship: “worship is something we do” (p. 170). Once again, Foster’s approach is learn-by-doing. He wants his adherents to have an experience.
He lists and discusses seven steps to worship. First is to learn to practice the presence of God daily. While this sounds mystical, Foster describes this as a private time of worship by praying, praising, and thanking God. Second, the believer should have many different experiences of worship. Worship God alone and in groups. Third, find ways to prepare for corporate worship when your local body gathers. Fourth, be willing to go to the church meeting to worship. Fifth, cultivate an attitude of being wholly dependent upon God. Sixth, absorb distractions with gratitude. Seventh, learn to offer a sacrifice of worship (pp. 170-72). We should worship even when we do not feel like it.
Foster concludes the chapter by mentioning the outcome of worship. He clearly states that worship should result in obedience to God. This is a worthy observation. However, obedience seems also to be an integral part of worship itself.
The first mention of the word worship in the Bible occurs in Gen 22:5. This is the famous account of Abraham taking Isaac up to the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice. The entire account is a display of complete obedience on the part of Abraham. This suggests a close link between worship and obedience. God confirms this by acknowledging that Abraham revered Him (Gen 22:12).
Foster makes a good observation at the end of this chapter. He says, “Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life” (p. 173). To state that worship should not be an opiate suggests that some order in corporate worship is necessary. This seems contrary to the “anything goes” attitude suggested in the chapter.
In this chapter, Foster discusses the concept of divine guidance, or how a Christian should be directed in his or her daily life. Foster’s desire is that every person would enjoy a daily “God with us” experience of being led by God (p. 175). He also explains how this happens.
Foster views individual knowledge and guidance by the Holy Spirit as insufficient (p. 175). He believes individual guidance must yield to corporate guidance. By corporate guidance, Foster means guidance from a group or community in a functional sense. He is not referring necessarily to organizational leadership. Then he observes that teaching about such corporate guidance has been deficient in the church.
His premise is that God leads through His people, the body of Christ (p. 176). That is the reason why Foster lists guidance as a corporate discipline. He acknowledges that God does guide a person individually, but He also guides groups of people and can instruct a person through a group experience. Once again, Foster emphasizes an experiential approach.
To find support for his premise, Foster cites several Biblical examples in which people were led in groups, as groups, and by groups. These examples culminate with the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. The group came together in unity and consensus and provided much needed guidance. He calls this “Spirit-directed unity” and observes that there were no compromises (p. 179).
Having made his case for the need for group guidance, Foster introduces some models of group guidance to follow. He recites examples of people who wrestled with guidance, including an account in the life of St. Francis of Assisi who sought guidance from several friends. He then describes another model, which some call “meetings for clearness.” These are meetings in which a person seeking guidance calls people together for group guidance. The idea is that the person is seeking direction from a group of people who are more spiritually mature. The practice of the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C. is held out as an example to follow. These are impromptu meetings in which others in the church meet to help a person who lays out a vision or idea. Although Foster cites other groups who meet for guidance, all these examples are anecdotal.
Foster’s conclusion from these examples is that “Spirit-given unity goes beyond mere agreement” (p. 182). He believes that when this agreement occurs, the voice of God is heard. To drive home his point, he cites more anecdotal examples. These groups “do not seek compromise, but God-given consensus” (p. 184).
What is missing from these examples is Biblical support. Do Foster’s views line up with what God wants as revealed in Scripture? Are the groups he describes genuine believers in Christ who have everlasting life? Are the groups he describes merely examples of group dynamics as taught on college campuses?
A. Mysticism and Guidance
Foster now introduces the reader to the mediaeval idea of “the spiritual director.” He observes that, “not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director” (p. 185). He is quick to point out that such a director is a brother or sister. It does not have to be a church leader. The relationship is that of an advisor and friend.
It is here that Foster borders once again on mysticism. While he does not directly say it, his other writings suggest that a spiritual director is to help a person learn the mystical techniques contained in the spiritual disciplines. He hints at this when he says, “Spiritual directors must be on the inward journey themselves” (p. 186).
What is also troubling is that most of Foster’s examples are of Catholic mystics from the past. This raises questions of its own. Were these mystics of the past regenerate? Did they have everlasting life by belief alone in Jesus for it? If not, then why adopt spiritual practices from unregenerate people? If these ancient mystics were true to their Catholic religion, then they adhered to a belief plus works form of eternal salvation.
Foster concludes the chapter by mentioning the limits of corporate guidance. He observes that man is sinful, so there can be the dangers of manipulation and control by unscrupulous leaders.
To avert this problem, he says that, “Scripture must pervade and penetrate all our thinking and acting.” He points out that the Spirit will never lead in opposition to “the Word He inspired” (p. 188). In light of much of this book, this is a remarkable statement for Foster. It is one with which this reviewer agrees. However, it rings hollow since his view of inspiration is not verbal plenary inspiration. We know this from his other writings (e.g., Renovare Study Bible).
He takes back some of this seemingly high view of Scripture when he says that groups who provide spiritual guidance are living under the spiritual disciplines (p. 189). Foster believes there is no spiritual growth apart from practicing the spiritual disciplines. Such a viewpoint negates the value of Scripture. It also places experience as prominent instead of transformation by the renewing of the mind. This transformation happens when we learn, believe, and obey God’s infallible word.
Celebration is the concluding discipline. Foster tells us that it is “the heart of the way of Christ” (p. 190). At His birth, Jesus brought great joy (Luke 2:10). Jesus wanted His disciples to have His joy and wanted their joy to be full (John 15:11). Joy is behind the discipline of celebration.
Foster cites the example of Israel who was told to celebrate the Year of Jubilee. From this he says that we are called to live in a perpetual “Jubilee of the Spirit” (p. 190). God wants His people to be happy.
Israel was to celebrate the gracious provision of God when they celebrated Jubilee. It was intended to release them from anxiety. Yet Israel failed to celebrate Jubilee because of unbelief.
Foster tells us that if we realize that God cares for us, we can cast all our cares upon Him. We can then celebrate. However, Foster concludes that a carefree attitude is missing in modern society. Mankind today is so wound up in anxiety that there is no room for joyous celebration (p. 191).
Next, he says that celebration brings joy, and joy makes us strong (p. 191). He cites Neh 8:10 as support (i.e., “the joy of the Lord is our strength”). He makes his point by citing examples of toil. People do not continue in any endeavor without strength derived from joy. For example, a mother will endure the pains of childbirth because the joy of motherhood awaits her.
How do we obtain this joy? Foster answers, “in the spiritual life only one thing will produce joy, and that is obedience” (p. 192). He cites the old hymn “Trust and Obey.” There is no way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. His point is that obedience to Jesus will bring blessing, and he cites Luke 11:27-28 as support. For once, Foster comes close to mentioning the importance of belief.
Foster observes that without obedience to Jesus, joy is hollow and artificial. In other words, it lacks the strength that Jesus provides. For example, he says that joy is not found in singing only one kind of music or in getting with the right kind of group or even in exercising the charismatic gifts. Obedience is necessary if one is to have joy (p. 193).
Foster admonishes that to overcome the shallowness of seeking joy without obedience, “obedience must become part of the ordinary fabric of our daily lives” (p. 192). He remarks:
Joy is the end result of the Spiritual Disciplines functioning in our lives. God brings about the transformation of our lives through the Disciplines, and we will not know genuine joy until there is a transforming work within us (p. 193).
For Foster, one cannot mature spiritually apart from these spiritual disciplines. This is his learn-by-doing approach. Transformation comes only from the disciplines, not from our minds being transformed by God’s word. Belief is not mentioned. Only obedience is. Without belief in God and His word, how can one consistently obey? Once again, Foster is proclaiming that we walk by sight and not by belief. This contradicts 2 Cor 5:7.
He introduces the idea of carefree celebration. This is celebration without worry and anxiety. He begins by quoting Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” He follows this by quoting Phil 4:6-7 which explains how to rejoice. The negative side is not to be anxious. The positive instruction is in everything to pray and express thanksgiving. Jesus taught these very principles in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:25-34).
Foster tells us that in order not to be anxious, we must trust God (p. 195). We are to rely on Him for what we need. This is good but is as close as Foster gets to mentioning belief as an important ingredient in growing spiritually. It is difficult to rely on someone if you do not believe he is dependable. Even more, without believing what God says, we are not in agreement with Him.
Through prayer and thanksgiving, we are to set our minds on higher virtues as expressed in Phil 4:8 (p. 195). The premise is that if we fill our lives with good things and are thankful for them, we will be happy. Foster concludes that this requires a decision on our part. It is an act of the will. That is why celebration is a discipline. Once again, belief is left out of the equation. Instead, it is an act of the will and something we are to do.
Having challenged us to have the right attitude about celebration, Foster describes the benefits of celebration. He lists several. First and foremost is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously (p. 196). This leads to another benefit. Celebration helps us relax and enjoy good things.
Celebration also provides perspective. We are freed from an inflated view of ourselves and our own importance. Finally, celebration leads to more celebration. Joy leads to more joy, and laughter leads to more laughter (pp. 196-97). These are good practical observations.
After discussing the significance of celebration, Foster tells us how to practice it. Since this is a corporate discipline, it is to be practiced with others.
There are several ways to practice celebration. There is singing, dancing, and shouting. Foster cites Psalm 150 and accounts about King David as examples. He mentions that singing, dancing, and noise-making are not required forms of celebration, but rather they are only examples. Laughing is another way to practice celebration. It is also therapeutic. We should poke fun at ourselves.
Another way to celebrate is to use fantasy and imagination. Foster wants us to dream dreams and see visions. Once again, Foster introduces mysticism. He encourages us to make family events into times of celebration and thanksgiving. Finally, we should take advantage of festivals of our culture and really celebrate. He lists Christmas, Easter, and similar holidays as examples (pp. 197 200).
Most of these are good practical suggestions, which encourage celebration and joy. But if practiced without underlying belief in God and His word, of what spiritual benefit will they be?
Foster thinks that practicing spiritual disciplines will lead to spiritual growth and maturity. He derives much of his information about these disciplines from Catholic mystics of past ages. While practicing disciplines will generally make a person more disciplined, that does not mean it will result in spiritual growth. Such growth only comes from walking or living by belief in God and His infallible word. In 2 Cor 5:7, the Apostle Paul says that we are to walk by faith, not by sight. Foster turns this verse upside down by telling us to walk by sight.
While the original edition of Celebration of Discipline ends with the chapter on the discipline of celebration, in the fourth edition, Foster adds some additional information. There is a chapter entitled “The Great Conversation: An Annotated Bibliography.” It lists references to books written by the “devotional masters,” as Foster calls them. It is quite a listing and includes many Catholic mystics of past ages as well as modern day mystics. He then provides a “starter kit” of specific references he encourages readers to investigate. Many of these writers are mystics as well. What is sad about this chapter is that Foster is encouraging his readers to read many books other than the Bible. In other words, in order to grow spiritually Foster emphasizes the writings of mystics, instead of the Bible.
This is followed by a brief chapter called, “In Celebration of Discipline.” It lists endorsements by well-known people in Christendom. It is not surprising that many, if not all, of those listed are proponents of Spiritual Formation and mysticism.
These two chapters should give any reader pause about the things Foster promotes in Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.
While this book contains many helpful practical suggestions and observations, it, nevertheless, is both seductive and dangerous and denies the importance of belief. I cannot recommend this book.
1 Brad Doskocil, “A Review of Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Part 1, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Spring 2019): 43-59.
2 Instead of footnotes, I will put the page number of Foster’s book in parentheses when referencing what he discusses.
3 For example, Matt 5:3, 5, 9-12; 6:1-4, 6, 18, 20; 8:11; 10:32, 42; 16:24-28; etc.
4 Foster does not mention or discuss the prophecy of tongues from Isa 28:7-11 and how it was to be a sign to unbelieving Jews; cf. 1 Cor 14:22.