I am planning to read James Bryan Smith’s book “The Good and Beautiful God” during November. I am going to try and use it to help mentor a friend of mine who has just started at Oxford University and because I must confess I find spiritual disciplines difficult.
Smith has all the right connections: mentored by Richard Foster, co-taught a DMin programme with Dallas Willard, friends with Chris Mullins and mates with Brennan Manning – that pretty much connects him with some of the “spiritual giants” / experts of the previous few decades. So if you fancy joining in on the reading process – feel free to join in – I plan to blog a bit , tweet a bit (@krishk) as well as try and do all the “soul training” disciplines that the book suggests.
The book is the first in a trilogy:
1. The Good and Beautiful God - focussing on the character of God
2. The Good and Beautiful Life - focussing on the kingdom of God and the inner life
3. The Good and Beautiful Community - focussing on life together in the church
Ruth Valerio gave the book a good review recently:
This book is the first of a trilogy on spiritual formation designed to form a ‘curriculum for Christlikeness’ for both individuals and groups. The aim of the book is to lay a foundation for spiritual formation through considering our understanding of God, discovering where we have false concepts, and then using the life of Jesus to recover a fuller appreciation of who God is and how he works in our lives. Each chapter ends with a ‘soul training exercise’ to root those narratives more deeply into our lives.
The Good and Beautiful God is very well written and contains some wonderful nuggets to be savoured: it’s no surprise to learn that Smith has been mentored by both Richard Foster and Dallas Willard.
My one frustration was its overly individualistic theology: Smith’s explanations of the cross and resurrection, while good in themselves, focused only on their implications for individuals and left gaping holes. Nonetheless, this is a good introduction to spiritual formation for newcomers: a welcome refresher for oldtimers.
I am planning to read 2 chapters a week, here are the “Read along blogs”
more to come…