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Streams Of Living Water: Essential Practices from the Six Great Traditions of Christian Faith [Paperback]

R Foster
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 2001
The author of the bestselling celebration of discipline explores the great traditions of christian spiritualityand their role in spiritual renewal today

In this landmark work, Foster examines the "streams of living water" -- the six dimensions of faith and practice that define Christian tradition. He lifts up the enduring character of each tradition and shows how a variety of practices, from individual study and retreat to disciplines of service and community, are all essential elements of growth and maturity. Foster examines the unique contributions of each of these traditions and offers as examples the inspiring stories of faithful people whose lives defined each of these "streams."

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Streams of Living Water is Richard J. Foster's roundup of six great traditions of Christian spiritual practice. His essays on spirituality--contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational--are grounded in straightforward profiles of biblical and modern characters whom Foster considers exemplars of these traditions. (The prophet Amos and the Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, for example, are featured in the chapter on social justice.) Each chapter ends with a bit of advice about how readers can cultivate new aspects of spiritual life and keep these Christian traditions alive: "Take a bath instead of a shower. Waste time for God," Foster writes, in his chapter on the contemplative tradition. Foster doesn't really break new ground in Streams of Living Water--he's written about most of these spiritual disciplines elsewhere--but this book is a useful and engaging introduction to a fairly broad range of Christian spiritual practices. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"...a marvel of a book covering two milleniums of Christian experience. With clarity and restraint, Foster invites the reader to draw from his wells of wisdom as he paints in words the portraits of those who have shaped our rich and varied heritage. His broad brush strokes bring to life the streams of living water that for centuries have nourished our souls. Not only that, he generously gives tangible application to our fragmented lives in the here and now." -- Ingrid Trobisch, author of THE CONFIDENT WOMAN and KEEPER OF THE SPRINGS

"Foster's engaging writing and thoughtful presentation make the book appealing to a broad readership." -- -- Publishers Weekly

"Richard Foster has written another classic." -- Dallas Morning News

"Richard J. Foster has offered the church an exquisite gift in his new book STREAMS OF LIVING WATER. Foster paints a masterful portrait of Jesus... This well-written and immensely appealing book needs tobe read by every individual who is committed to reaching maturity in his or her spiritual life." -- Sojourners Magazine

"STREAMS OF LIVING WATER is educational and inspirational...[it] provides the chart for negotiaiting through the shallows and narrows, the rapids and bays that make up a remarkably diverse and ric body of faith."-Dale Hanson Bourke, Religion News Service --

"STREAMS OF LIVING WATER may well be Foster's most important work yet." -- A Closer Look

"This book is an amazing bridge-builder." -- CBA Marketplace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An attempt to reintegrate the Christian faith June 21 2004
By A Customer
Foster's "Streams" is a radical idea in contemporary Christian circles - drawing together the strengths in each of the recognized major protestant Christian sects he asserts a new, more whole view of life with God.
Foster uses modern and historical/mythical persons to flesh out the strengths he ascribes to each branch of protestantism. While this approach will test readers who look down on the stories of the saints of old (he relates St. Francis' reasoning with a wild wolf in one chapter) if you can put aside modern protestant prejudices against christian mythology you'll be much the better for it.
I found the book to be a refreshing approach to integrating the major movements in Christianity. I am more mindful of the traditions of faith I did not grow up in and am attempting to incorporate their strenghts into my experience of Jesus Christ.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another in the Series Feb. 11 2004
PLOT: Like some other Renovare' books, this one deals with 6 traditions of Christianity: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational. For each tradition (stream) Foster introduces us to Christians from Scripture, history, and modern times who serve as examples of that stream.
PROBLEMS: There was nothing wrong with the examples Foster selected, but they didn't grab me as much as other Renovare books have. Perhaps I'd rather read each person's own words than read about that person's life. Also, the binding on my book broke. I don't know if that is a problem or just happened to me.
POSITIVES: For me, the joy of this book was in the appendix and extra material. Foster gives us one appendix of critical turning points in church history and another of notable figures and significant movements in church history. He begins each chapter with a chart from the time of Jesus to present that lists significant people, movements, and dates related to that tradition.
CONCLUSION: The extra material is easily worth the cost of the book. The chapters are just the added bonus on this one. I've returned to these charts for reference time and time again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but read critically Dec 20 2002
No doubt this is a good book penned by a man who is extremely devoted to the Christian devotional life. Foster (in all his books)is execptionally strong on prayer, meditation, and focus. The way he brings to life the old heroes of the faith is commendable. However, at the most crucial moment he abandons the Bible in favor of his own theology. His interpretation of history can be flawed at times, favoring the either the pragmatic or the hysterical. Not to discredit the book (I gave my copy to a friend as a gift) but nevertheless, watch for his unscriptural moments. If you want a good book that combines History and Devotion and you have a critical eye, then this is a must.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Streams Run Deep Sept. 26 2002
Richard Foster weaves together spiritual movements in history and relates them to an individual's experience of these same "movements" spiritually. This book should be considered a primary text for anyone interested in spiritual growth. ccc_review
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Experience the depths of our Christian heritage with a well-balanced introduction to multifaceted themes within Christianity. The various traditions are not in competition but actually compliment one another and reveal the fullness of Christ. If you want a fuller expression of your faith, read Streams of Living Water.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Traditions Nov. 29 2000
Richard Foster presents the six great traditions of Christianity (contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational) by placing them in their biblical, historical, and contempory settings. His examples and commentary make this a tough but rewarding read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wade in the Water July 31 2000
Foster invites us:"Come on in, the water's fine!" This new book is not only a review of the great spiritual streams of the Christian faith, but an invitation to enter more fully into daily spiritual life in Christ. Wade into any of these six great streams and find yourself challenged, refreshed and transformed by God's loving Spirit. For another book, one written specifically for parents, which explores two of these six streams, the Contemplative and the Evangelical stream in light of the holy calling of raising children, look into the recently published book, THE FAMILY CLOISTER: BENEDICTINE WISDOM FOR THE HOME, by David Robinson (New York, NY: Crossroad, 2000). Let's wade on into the streams of living water!
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We now live in a post-denominational world. Technology has moved us all into a global community. We find ourselves daily exposed to the rich cultures and perspectives of the world. Our provincial and limited expressions have expanded exponentially because of this. Today we have the freedom to draw from past and present traditions to shape and enrich our faith and world-view. People are more open to discussion and interaction than ever before. In keeping with this new reality, Richard Foster has done us a wonderful favor by applying this to our spirituality. No longer do we have to be limited to our own particular denomination or upbringing. We can keep our own spiritual background and identity, but also add on and incorportate different streams of Christian expression to enrich our approach to God and practice of faith. And so Foster paints a broad picture of the Christian faith for us to gaze upon. We don't have to take sides. Foster persuades us that the issue at hand is not either/or, but both/and. Like a mosaic each Christian can incorporate the living streams of the contempletive, holiness, social justice, evangelical, charismatic, and incarnational traditions to the "warp and woof" of life, as Foster likes to phrase it. This approach will make our lives into a unified, yet diverse work of art. He illustrates so clearly each "stream" by using historical examples of those who practiced each style particularly well. First he uses Biblical characters that emphasized each approach. Then he shows how Christ perfectly fulfilled each tradition of the faith. He clearly spells out the strong points and the dangers of each tradition. And finally Foster helps us put into practice each of them from his own perspective and experience. Read more ›
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