Saturday, 3 May 2008

Sacred Pathways

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas is a fantastic book; so much so that I figured a review was needed. If you're someone who hankers after an increased intimacy with God, and would love to know how best to utilise your quality time with Him - or how to increase that time in the first place - then this book is for you.

Gary Thomas - an author of books and articles on Christian marriage and parenting amongst other things, and a teacher at Western seminary in Portland, Oregon - has carefully unfolded nine distinct spiritual temperaments in such a way that we can either relate to them, or clarify that they are NOT the way we're wired, and then learn from this subsequent knowledge. Wisely, he lists the pitfalls/dangers of each temperament, and also acknowledges that NO temperament is completely exclusive, nor that their unique paths of time spent with God should ever supercede or contradict the authority of Scripture.

The nine pathways and their characteristics are:

NATURALISTS... who worship God best when surrounded and inspired by God's creation; they just love that outdoorsy stuff...

SENSATES... are moved by a devotion that incorporates all the senses: the sight of a beautiful sunset or majestic cathedral, the song of a violin, the smell of incense can all stir their heart to commune with God...

TRADITIONALISTS... worship God through ritual and symbol; they love liturgy and find structure extremely helpful in enabling their quality time with Him...

ASCETICS... need simplicity and solitude to commune with Him effectively; they are otherwise easily distracted, and quiet focuses their thoughts on God...

ACTIVISTS... are fired up by injustice and a heart to see greater holiness in the church; they love nothing more than seeing God's Truth changing society, and are not afraid of confrontation...

CAREGIVERS... love and serve God by serving and loving others; they are the Mother Teresa's, big and small, public and private, of this world...

ENTHUSIASTS... are God's cheerleaders; they thrive on celebration, big musical worship, the inescapable urge to clap and dance in response to His revelation and revel in His supernatural power... Hallelujah!...

CONTEMPLATIVES... are bowled over by the love their Lover casts upon them; they spare no hesitation in sitting at His feet, gazing adoringly and wondering in awe at the "divine romance" they have the privilege of entering...

INTELLECTUALS... love nothing more than to study systematic theology and church history; academics who allow their 'head knowledge' to flood their hearts, they feast on Scripture, exegesis, hermeneutics, apologetics (hmm... I'm getting carried away here; guess which is one of my pathways?) and so on, and each revelation spurs them deeper into worship...

So that's the nine. Like I say, most people relate to more than one, or even a few, and Thomas is quick to point out the inevitable, and avoidable, extremes of each, and also how we can learn from those we don't naturally relate to. We need to learn from each other.

All in all, this is a fantastic book that reminds us God is wholeheartedly committed to revealing Himself to us and turning our hearts to Him yet more. We are all wonderfully and fearfully made, no one else can have a relationship with Him like WE can, each of us is unique. Moses, David and Mary each had an insatiable heart for quality time with Him, and each demonstrated that in very different ways. And God is equally desiring of that depth of intimacy with you and me. Wow.

(And if you're still not sure from my little clues, I'm an Intellectual Enthusiast with a bit of Caregiving on the side: I devour theology, jump about and sing songs when the Truth hits me, and express it elsewhere by caring for others, by helping my friends and those in need. Those are the times when I, personally, am drawing near to Him...)

1 comment:

PM said...

Steve,
I am most definately a naturalist and a ascetic.
I like my own company alot and peace and quiet appeals to me and always has.

Most scientists would be naturalists like my brother.
Jesus said if we ever lose our faith go out into the country and listen to the birds and sounds of nature and I find that and so does my brother. I lose my way very much in the pressures of life. But my eagerness to get back to nature shows my desire to improve and not accept a negative lifestyle as enevitable.
We don't see life today as it is at it's core due to our built up towns and cities and laws and pressures. Even some services I have been to leave me cold as it is so ritual over spiritual. I suppose that is laziness of the preist or just they are so used to doing it. Modern life does deplete our inner caring self out of fear and our own safety.
It removes us from nature and the core of being human. That is why I think many like me love festivals like I do because we feel at one with nature and away from plastic neon lit signs, consumerism and concrete and while many are activists, carers and enthusiasts I don't think anyone in their most isolated moments cannot say they did not speak to something higher whatever they pictured this as.
I will read this book.
Great entry.
I never really realised that there were different angles to faith.
Many people see the church as too rigid and you are either in or out attitude.
Many people only believe what they can see or prove but even they when out in nature believe in the perfection of creation although who created it all they cannot feel able to understand but they sure do see it and love it.
I hope I get back to nature at least for a few days this summer to help restore my faith!
Great entry Steve.