Review of Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

Dallas Willard

Originally published in Leadership Journal

Richard J. Foster. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1978), x + 179. $7.95

Many evils prey on faithful Christians in our times: virulent cultism, naturalism, successisms, and many forms of psychological and social distress. These prosper in large measure because of the lack of sensible instruction in how to live the joyful Christian life.

Celebration of Discipline speaks to that need with training in the conduct of the spiritual life. Drawing upon the bible, wide stretches of the history and literature of the Christian church, as well as on his own experiences and experiments. Foster focuses on twelve types of activities:

• Meditation, prayer, fasting, study (the inward disciplines)

• Simplicity, solitude, submission, service (the outward
disciplines)

• Confession, worship, guidance, and celebration (the corporate
disciplines)

In a readable yet informative fashion, he deals with the nature of each activity, how it is entered into, the process and problems in its development, and the fruits of its practice for the life of the disciple.

Although appropriate for beginning disciples, Foster’s discussions are especially useful for Christians who have “gone the route” with regular church attendance and methodical service in the commonly recommended pattern, but who carry on with little confidence in the Christ like quality of their own lives in prayer, work, and witness.

This book should inspire pastors, teachers, and other leaders to reexamine aims and methods. To what extent do we today seriously and intelligently labor to conform people to Christ? In the past there’s been a rich heritage of practical teaching and direction to assist us in this task. Foster’s book is a fine place to begin to reformulate such teachings.

Dallas Willard. Review of Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. Leadership Journal 2, no. 2 (Spring 1981).