Three little books arrived last month from the publisher for review:
They all have the same purpose: spiritual formation. Each, in its own way, is an appeal to readers to deepen their Christian experience through discipleship and spiritual growth.
‘Grounded in the Faith’ is a very short exposition of the Apostles Creed. It includes the text of the Creed, simple and direct explanations of the Creed’s statements, and discussion questions for those using the booklet in a group setting.
‘Living the Faith’ is a little introduction to Christian devotion for new believers. Its format follows the outline of the subtitle; upward, inward, outward, and onward; the four dimensions of Christian experience. It too includes questions aimed at assisting readers in applying the lessons it strives to teach.
‘Internalizing the Faith’ is subtitled ‘A Pilgrim’s Catechism’ and it too is brief. The Catechism itself is the invention of the author and extends 33 pages – is prefaced by an introduction which extols the virtues of learning the faith by means of a catechism, and is followed by endnotes which extend 43 pages.
The volumes are easily read in less than an hour- as the pages are fairly small and the print is fairly large.
But rather than ‘gulping’ them down because they are so slight readers are advised to read them slowly, thoughtfully, patiently. Allow them to ‘sink in’ a bit before running on to the next sentence or page or question. Chew their ideas; ponder their suggestions.
Spiritual formation, after all, should never be rushed. Only weeds spring up overnight but real fruit bearing plants take time, patience, sun, water, and good soil to achieve their aim. Too many Christians today are looking for quick fixes and easy answers and shortcuts. But we all know in our hearts that spiritual development takes weeks, months, years, decades, a lifetime.
The three authors of these three little works are to be congratulated on achieving something that though not ‘great’ is profoundly meaningful. Burks’ catechism will never be on the same footing as Luther’s Small Catechism; but it does have its own intrinsic worth. Scacewater’s little guide for new disciples will never match Barth’s ‘Introduction to Evangelical Theology’ for its powerful influence, but it does have a part to play for those who have little patience for Barth’s wordy tome. And Albert’s book will never achieve the fame of Oswald Chambers’ masterwork; but it too has its value.
My advice to readers and potential readers is- you will only be helped by reading these books. You have nothing to lose in doing so and a deeper spirituality to gain.