By Ian Acheson @achesonian
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."
This marvellous book starts with this Thomas a Kempis's quote:
"We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ."
A life of imitation.On developing an intimate relationship with Christ, Foster uses the analogy of the "rivers of living water" (John 7:38) to describe how we both live a life of imitation and how we are united together in community. He outlines six streams that define this paradigm of imitation:
1. The Contemplative Stream - or a Prayer-filled life
2. The Holiness Stream - or the virtuous life
3. The Charismatic Stream - the gifts of the Holy Spirit
4. The Social Justice Stream - a life of compassion
5. The Evangelical Stream - the Word-Centred life
6. The Incarnational Stream - Everyday Life with God
Foster outlines each stream and provides historical, Biblical and current examples of persons who display the individual streams so that we are able to get a glimpse of how each stream is lived out in practice. I particularly appreciated these illustrations as it provided much clarity around each stream.
Further, Foster provides a summary overview of the various critical turning points in the history of the church as well as a comprehensive list with one paragraph bios of people throughout history displaying the various streams.
This is a wonderful book and provides a practical and well researched outline on how to live a life of imitation of Jesus. It really should be compulsory reading for all believers.