Eight Things you should know about Spiritual Disciplines: a book review of Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines
One of the leading names today on the topic of spiritual disciplines is Dallas Willard. Willard has extensive education in philosophy, and has studied the issue of the spiritual disciplines. His conclusions and writings change the way Christians experience their walk with God. The Spirit of the Disciplines is written for any Christian who wishes to seek the truth about this important aspect in their faith walk.
8 things you should know about spiritual disciplines:
1. Even Jesus required time for spiritual disciplines such as solitude, fasting, and prayer.
2. We must be able to put our theology into use. Dillard says, “Thoughtless theology guides our lives with just as much force as a thoughtful and informed one.”
3. Salvation is more than the forgiveness of sins; it is a life lived for Christ. Works are not the means to salvation, but the product of it.
4. With spiritual disciplines, we draw near to God and He can grant us the ability to be what He created us to be, holy
5. Spiritual disciplines help us to develop habits that will control our bodies to avoid sin
6. Spiritual disciplines have no value alone. Without proper motives, they easily become destructive.
7. If all Christians would develop a pattern of following Christ’s example, we could change the world.
8. All spiritual disciplines have their role in the Christian life, but are not necessarily practiced simultaneously and continuously
Dallas puts the disciplines into two categories and lists some examples. 1) Abstinence: solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy and sacrifice. 2) Engagement: study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission..
The Spirit of the Disciplines was a good, applicable read for the average Christian, or the seasoned pastor. Willard was right to bring out the facts that he did about the spiritual disciplines. Too often we focus on Christ’s death, our salvation, rather than focusing on how he lived his life. Christ was the human that God meant for us to be. We can follow His example in leading a holy life. Christians also focus on monasticism and the abuse of the spiritual disciplines and use this as an excuse not to practice them. The examples the author gave from scripture and history were key in understanding the spiritual disciplines. I do wish that the author would have spent more time actually discussing the disciplines themselves. The author did give a nice, short summary of each and their importance, but could have spent more time dealing with them. (Adele Calhoun’s book the Spiritual Disciplines handbook is a great resource for more details on various spiritual disciplines and how to practice them.)
I would recommend this book to anyone who was struggling with the issues of spiritual disciplines. Whether it be contemplating if they should do them, how they should do them, or why they should do them.
Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the Disciplines. Harper Collins Publisher: New York. 1988.
Pick up your copy here
Written by: Captain Rhegan Stansbury corps officer at the Williston, ND Corps and Community Center – see Rhegan’s personal blog here —>https://isatinsilentmusing.wordpress.com/