Book Review: Embracing Contemplation

Evangelicals are very suspicious of contemplation. Many view it as an infiltration of Buddhism or New Age fuzzy spirituality into the church. So, they have remained uncomfortable and awkward about ancient contemplative practices. On account of this dismissal, many evangelical circles have found themselves experiencing spiritual poverty and incompleteness.

Embracing Contemplation seeks to address this issue. This book convincingly argues that evangelicals need to recover the lost treasures of their own tradition. John Calvin, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley had much to contribute on contemplation. Not only did they write extensively about this topic but also their lives were full of contemplative practices.

For these evangelical fathers, one of the crucial applications of Galatians 5:25 was to lead a life that promotes contemplation and spiritual formation. This work encourages, challenges, and spurs evangelicals to mine the spiritual gold from the scriptures and glance through the pages of Christian history to explore what it means to live ‘by the Spirit’.

Grounded in the word of God and the Church Fathers, this book attempts to keep the conversation going in order to recover the long forgotten practice of contemplation.

The editors, John H. Coe and Kyle C. Strobel, gather 13 different essays from 13 different spiritual formation scholars. This is a great strength because the various voices bring diverse perspectives that give specificity and richness to the conversation. Each contribution is unique and invaluable.

The essays are written in everyday non-lofty and non-academic language. Philosophical and theological jargon is kept to minimum, which is a great strength. All sorts of people can make use of this book. You don’t have to be a theologian or a philosopher to understand this work. It is simply accessible, readable, and timely for the evangelical world.

I thank IVP publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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