When many of us think of the spiritual practice of contemplation, it is easy to think of the unbiblical Eastern religious and meditation practices that seem to be so prevalent these days. But Embracing Contemplation gives us a set of essays looking at contemplation from an evangelical perspective, showing how this practice is actually a rich part of our Christian heritage and is crucial to our walk with God. The writers in this volume span the spectrum of Protestant Evangelicalism, bringing different views to the table on the benefits and importance of contemplation.
Contemplation is a call to attend to the presence of God that has been made available in Christ by the Spirit. This means that while we can talk about techniques in contemplation, these are simply practices we can employ to seek to be present to God, who is always present to his children.John Coe and Kyle Strobel, pages 6-7
The book is split into two sections: the first looking at historical inquiries into the practice of contemplation. Here we learn of the contrasts between Christian practices of contemplation and unbiblical, non-Christian forms of contemplation and meditation, how contemplation in Medieval times speaks into this issue, how historical, evangelical figures in the 18th and 19th centuries practiced contemplation, and what contemplation looks like in light of the gospel and cross of Christ.
The second section is full of constructive proposals for moving forward in the area of spiritual formation and contemplation. How does this change our prayer lives? Does it take our focus off of Christ and His Word, or can it direct our focus more towards Him and the truth of the Bible?
I was not sure what to expect from the book initially. Wrongly enough, my mind goes to Eastern mystical practices when I think of contemplation; an emptying of the mind rather than a filling it of truth. But this book has really changed my perspective and makes a great argument for the benefit of contemplation as a solidly biblical way to experience the presence and working of God in my life. Of course, we can always have wrong thinking when it comes to our spiritual disciplines. But thinking about God and His love for us while being in His Word, or as Psalm 27 says, “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” is profoundly biblical and a personal way to commune and be present with God, while growing in love for Him and for others.
So yes, I think this practice should be reclaimed! If you are looking for ways to grow in the Lord and expand on your Bible Study and prayer life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, grab this book! It will be a great resource for all in their spiritual walk.
*This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.*
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