Richard J. Foster was mandatory reading during my seminary education. His son, Nathan Foster, has taken on the challenge of his father’s spiritual disciplines in The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy With the Spiritual Disciplines. To compare the writing of son to father would be unfair for both parties as the two approach the topic of spiritual disciplines quite differently. Nathan Foster, writes from the perspective of a second generation Christian wrestling through the challenge of cultivating spiritual disciplines.
As one reads The Making of an Ordinary Saint, the flow of reading is easy to follow and the candid nature of the the author’s struggles are refreshing. It does not take much to identify with the author and nod one’s head in understanding. In the process of his empathetic writing style, Nathan Foster makes the sometimes daunting spiritual disciplines appear doable and something that the “ordinary saint” can incorporate into their daily lives.
I do admit that I was a bit disappointed in the digs at the church that the author made throughout the book (though he did say he was improving in his perspective in the “Worship” chapter). There is something to candor, but then there is an unbalanced attack at what God has established, even though it is in imperfect form. In these areas the book came across as just another “I love Jesus but hate the church Jesus died for and is coming back for” books. While there certainly can be some less than thrilling church experiences (I have experienced plenty), to throw God’s church under the bus and declare that one can get better spiritual experiences outdoors is more of a sign of spiritual immaturity and self-love than of a soul exercising spiritual disciplines. [Added 12/09/2014 after some more consideration of the book’s content] I also would have liked a few more examples of a more balanced approach to some of the spiritual disciples – such as practicing submission as being more than spending a day doing what your kids want to do (even if it did inspire one’s daughter to serve her brother).
Overall, the book was a nice and simple read that has the potential to inspire, though there are certainly areas that I would have loved to see some more balance added to the author’s approach.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.