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In Rome in A.D. 165, two men named Carpus and Papylus stood before the proconsul of Pergamum, charged with the crime of being Christians. Not even torture could make them deny Christ, so they were burned alive. Is my faithfulness as strong? In the fifth century, Melania the Younger and her husband, Pinian, distributed their enormous wealth to the poor and intentionally praIn Rome in A.D. 165, two men named Carpus and Papylus stood before the proconsul of Pergamum, charged with the crime of being Christians. Not even torture could make them deny Christ, so they were burned alive. Is my faithfulness as strong? In the fifth century, Melania the Younger and her husband, Pinian, distributed their enormous wealth to the poor and intentionally practiced the discipline of renunciation. Could living more simply deepen my trust in God? In the sixteen hundreds, Philipp Jakob Spener's love for the Word of God and his desire to help people apply the Bible to their life moved him to start "Colleges of Piety," or small groups. In what ways could commitment to community make me more like Christ? The history of the church has shaped what our faith and practice are like today. It's tempting to think that the way we do things now is best, but history also has much to teach us about what we've forgotten. In Water from a Deep Well, Gerald Sittser opens to us the rich history of spirituality, letting us gaze at the practices and stories of believers from the past who had the same thirst for God that we do today. As we see their deep faith through his vibrant narratives, we may discover that old ways can bring new life to our own spirituality....

Title : Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780830834938
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 364 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries Reviews

  • Paul
    2018-10-18 13:42

    This is an excellent, highly readable, introduction to the history of Christian Spirituality. Gerald Sittser surveys the best contributions that Christians have made in living out their faith over the centuries since Jesus walked the earth. Chapters are arranged chronologically. Each one focuses on the dominant expression of faith during a particular period of history, drawing from the lives of well selected representatives, and ends with a very good discussion of how present day Christians may benefit from the examples set by their spiritual forebears. The author is well aware of the excesses and errors which also characterized each period, but he doesn't dwell on them. This book is written to help Christians see what is valuable from each tradition. "Abusus non tollit usus." Failures and abuses do not nullify the value of these traditions, says the author. This is a fresh and inspiring look a the legacy others have left us. I highly recommend it.

  • Rheta Thola
    2018-10-10 14:49

    Definitely an interesting read. Sittser does a good job covering church history. The book is structured so that each period of church history has a specific theme or focus of spirituality. He then pulls in different writings and stories that support that theme. It is a cross between a historical scholarly book and a topical study. I am not sure if I liked that mix, but I did enjoy the topical points that were made as things that I often never thought of before. The book includes "practices" that are meant for the reader to get a step further in understanding the spiritual theme. It also has discussion questions at the end for groups.

  • Dennis Henn
    2018-09-28 11:57

    An overview of the expression of faith Christianity has assumed the past two thousand years. Very accessible to all readers, Siitser includes discussion questions, Scripture and projects to further our experience in Christian spirituality. Though he acknowledges the weaknesses inherent in each phase of Christianity, his goal is to show the strengths and, thereby, broaden our receptivity to the various streams offered through the Desert Fathers, the monastics, the evangelicals, the Mystics, the Reformation, the missionaries, and the early church. I particularly enjoyed the many brief bio sketches included in each chapter.

  • Anna
    2018-09-21 15:03

    Currently reading and let me Maria take a peek at the book. She liked it so much that she stole it.

  • Lynn
    2018-10-03 11:01

    This book gives a history of Christian Spirituality and how it changed through the ages and the needs of the church and it's people. Sittser calls the current church to examine these practices and the motives behind them and discover ways to use them today.

  • Rob Steinbach
    2018-10-18 15:43

    I absolutely loved this book. The combination of church history and spirituality was thoroughly intellectually and soul engaging. Gerald Sittser is a gifted writer and scholar yet down to earth and accessible in his style. Every chapter was challenging and well done.

  • Adele Calhoun
    2018-10-08 15:56

    It’s not uncommon for churches to spend a lot of time strategizing for the future. Books with the latest in ministry ideas and the newest trends are de rigueur. Leaving the old behind, leaders encourage new initiatives and “new wine skins. The emphasis on “newness” is understandable. We live in a world that seems to come up with a new life saving or life changing invention on a weekly basis. The greeting “What’s new?” captures the mood of both the culture and the church. But what about “What’s old?” What about Christian history and how it continually shapes, impacts, teaches, warns, mentors and forms us ? When I was in seventh grade a perspicacious history teacher asked us “How does an understanding of the past help us predict the future as well as understand the present?” That was the hardest question my young ears had ever heard. I memorized the question on the spot and have pondered it for years. Recently I talked with some folks who were filled with dreams and desires about how to do church in a “new way.” They would engage the world, invest in a coffee house, forgo a building, share weekly communion, and do life and church more simply. Furthermore their “new” sort of church would be authentic, informal and comfortable to post-modern people. As I listened to their exuberance I was struck with how many of their “new” ideas sprung from the deep well of Christian history. Yes, they might form a “new church.” But their new church wouldn’t spring up ex nihilo, from a cabbage patch of new ideas. Only Life gives birth to life. The Spirit of Christ midwifes churches. And churches, the body of Christ in every age and culture, always come to us as inheritance, legacy and a story of Living Water. Gerald Sittser’s book, Water from a Deep Well, connects the dots between the “old” and “new” ways of being the people of God.Sittser exposes us to a wonderful cloud of witnesses who, though different from us, have lives that speak, teach, mentor and reveal. Here is a legacy of “saints, apostles, martyrs, virgins, scholars, and ordinary people” whose vantage point on God reveals aspects of his character that we miss because of our own cultural blind spots. . Though Sittser surveys a vast amount of Christian experience moving chronologically from New Testament church up to the present his book reads more like story than history text. We are drawn into each spiritual tradition: ascetic, monastic, sacramental, evangelical, orthodox, mystical, work place, reformed, and missional, through the voices of people who lived and found God within their unique context. We are introduced to their spiritual practices, passions and foibles. Their myriad tongues act light like a prism reflecting the luminescent beauty of an infinitely unsearchable God. As Sittser unfolds our Christian history we are left with a sense of connection and debt rather than of judgment about how they didn’t get something “right.” Who of us can get the whole of God “right.” We need each part of the body of Christ, each voice, each tradition, each excess and each correction. I was particularly drawn to Sittser’s generosity towards the breadth of religious experience found within the Christian tradition. Each spirituality is connected to life today through a particular word. For example, the spirituality of the martyrs is linked to the word “witness.” The spirituality of the desert fathers and mothers is explicated by the word “struggle.” Orthodox spirituality is tethered to the word “holy heroes.” “Witness,” “struggle,” “holy heroes,” “union,” “ordinariness,” “word,” “risk” are only a few of the words Sittser uses to unlock the lives of disciples very different than our own. Do you long to be an authentic “witness?” Do you wonder how you can find God in your “ordinary” life? Do you need encouragement to face into a “struggle” rather than deny or escape it? Do you want to learn to “risk” on God rather than trust comfort and security? Water from a Deep Well invites us to come and meet some new/old friends whose imperfect lives can shape, mentor, encourage, and open us wider to God. These disciples reach out and offer us wisdom from their lived experience. Witness the life change in Augustine the libertine turned theologian. Marvel at Antony and Francis who fled a life of comfort to make themselves radically accessible to God. Enter into the struggles of men and women who led reforms, founded mission endeavors and started new enterprises: Benedict, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius, Luther, Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Billy Graham and others. Each chapter ends with ways of practicing the spirituality of the tradition under discussion. The end of the book includes a series of discussion questions for every chapter. Sittser helps us appreciate and receive the legacy and deep life giving well of spiritual experience that come to us from our Christian ancestors. His loving treatment of the diversity and uniqueness of these ancestors builds bridges of understanding. God is bigger than all else. If you are thirsty to know people who experienced God in life changing ways Sittser’s book is a deep well.

  • Becky Giovagnoni
    2018-09-28 12:59

    I felt like I was reading about my ancestors. Fascinating and informative.

  • Jason Kanz
    2018-10-15 16:06

    Water From a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality From Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries (2007, IVP) by Gerald Sittser was an excellent book, but perhaps a bit difficult to classify. It is part church history, part Christian spirituality, and part practical living. In engaging prose, Sittser explores the history of Christianity, stopping along the way to reflect on what lessons we have learned from those who have gone before. He effectively shows different movements over the history of the church: the witness of the early Christian martyrs, the belonging of early Christian community, the struggle of the desert saints, the rhythm of the monastics, the holy heroes celebrated in the eastern church through biography and iconagraphy, the importance of the sacraments during the Gothic period, the importance of ordinariness among medieval lay people, the importance of the Word to the reformers, the centrality of conversion to evangelicals, and the essence of risk to pioneer missionaries. As you can imagine this book is sweeping and ecumenical in its scope. Though Sittser highlights components that featured centrally in different movements of the church, there is no doubt overlap. Sittser wisely not only identifies the positives that modern Christians can learn from each of these periods or modes of spirituality, but also points to their potential risks and abuses. For example, during certain movements of the church, it was considered more spiritual to abstain from sexual relations, and some couples would make vows of chastity within their marriages. Broadly, it seems that any of these approaches, taken to the extreme, lead to rather significant legalism, which Sittser explicitly shows.There is material here to challenge all. There are things here that will resonate deeply with most Christians and things that may unsettle them. Regardless, there is much for all to learn. On the second to last page, Sittser wrote, "The church as a community, however, is capable of advancing the cause of the kingdom, if only just a little. Through sheer numbers alone that 'little' can amount to 'much.' There are well over 150 million Christians in America (out of some two billion in the world), though of course not all are serious about their faith. What if just one third of those--50 million--began in modest ways to live more earnestly and deliberately for the kingdom? What if these believers consecrated their lives to God, began to practice spiritual discipline and committed themselves to serve God's kingdom? Just one hundred extra dollars a year would provide 5 billion dollars to help fight AIDS in Africa and battle sex trafficking in Asia. Just one hundred extra hours a year (only two a week!) would provide 5 billion volunteer hours to man soup kitchens in cities and pound nails for Habitat for Humanity. Just ten letters a year would send five hundred million pieces of mail to Washington to lobby for worthy causes. What if ordinary Christians used a little less water every day, consumed less energy and ate healthier food, recycled more conscientiously, purchased fair trade products, rode buses more often, and invested in just one cause outside their normal routine? Churches move slowly, just like glaciers, which is why activists become so impatient. But when they do change, they can become as powerful as an advancing glacier that sweeps away everything in its path. In the end, slow, incremental, concrete change might be the most effective kind" (page 294). Read this book. I promise you won't agree with everything, but you will benefit.

  • Andy Nichols
    2018-10-18 14:01

    Short biographies of Christians through the ages. An interesting an helpful approach. I especially appreciate what Sittser says about icons.

  • Oliver
    2018-10-01 13:58

    Really enoyable - a mix of history and theology and a really practical examination of a range of Christian traditions, taking pains with real stories to reveal how these voices and traditions of the past can inform our faith and change our lives today.

  • Matthew Green
    2018-09-21 15:50

    For those who aren’t terribly familiar with much of Christian history or those who aren’t terribly familiar with various expressions of Christian spirituality, it isn’t a bad place to start. Sittser does an excellent job of writing in a very easy style that captures the attention and provides a good summary of his ideas without getting bogged down in unnecessary details or technical language and concepts. His inclusion of stories of various Chrisitans who, in his mind, exemplify the particular movements give the text a more human touch and makes it more personal rather than a mere collection of facts.I do have a few qualms with it (I’m a pessimist, so I have qualms with almost everything), though they’re all pretty minor. For those who are already fairly familiar with Christian history or spiritual movements, this isn’t going to provide you with anything new. It’s a rather nice overview, but there isn’t a great deal of detail in any given chapter. Good for feel, not so much for depth. In addition, he never really seems to define what spirituality is, and I was left with the impression that his understanding of spirituality was a bit more broad than mine. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but it would have been nice to have that laid out right at the beginning. What makes the collective willingness of the martyrs to endure torture a spiritual movement? Maybe I’m just too picky (or maybe I’m too squeamish about enduring torture!). I also recoiled a bit at some of the example people described in later chapters, seeing their more neurotic drives pushing them rather than the Holy Spirit, but Sittser acknowledges that they were perhaps too fanatical, and who’s to say that God can’t or doesn’t use the fallen parts of our souls to accomplish good? He enjoys redeeming things, after all.In the end, Water from a Deep Well is a pretty decent introductory text for looking into the history of spirituality. Very readable while still being informative and providing a good feel of the time as well. Even if I didn’t take away anything particularly new or insightful, I enjoyed the read.

  • Julia
    2018-10-18 18:07

    A well written history of Christianity from different perspectives. Sittser writes with perception, compassion, knowledge, and skill.This book resonates with purpose, profundity, and love. I am so thankful to Gerald Sittser for writing it! It was an awesome journey through the interweaving history of the Christian tradition. In the past I have had a tendency to recognize conflict and discordances of the various approaches to Christianity, though I never truly took the time to understand them. By focusing on the strengths and commonalities of these different approaches to Christianity, through this book, I was able to identify with each of the movements. It seems that all of these methods strove (and strive) to glorify God and live as a sacrifice.Not only did Sittser communicate important Church history and ways to apply lessons of the past to today, but also he did it with great care, humility, and skill. It was a very effective teaching method, at least for me, that he named each chapter with a representative word. Witness, struggle, union, ordinariness, word, and risk all easily come to mind as a single-word framework for the different movements. Specifically, I greatly appreciated the chapters on the desert fathers, eastern orthodoxy, the early church, monasticism, and evangelicals. The way that Sittser is able to tell the great stories of many saints while neither overwhelming nor alienating his audience is a gift. I feel challenged to live for things beyond myself and to not settle for the mediocre or mundane, but not paralyzed by the fact that I cannot “measure up” to the giants of the faith.Water from a Deep Well is a thick, excellent, book. I would readily and eagerly recommend it to anyone who is interested in understanding more about Christianity on virtually any level. It is written with a casual-scholarly air that lends it readability, though it is far from a light read. After reading this book I feel much more connected than divided with my brothers and sisters of the past and present who have confessed the same Christ, though serve/served him in different ways.

  • Brenda Funk
    2018-09-17 18:59

    It took me a little while to really get into reading this book (it was a Christmas gift), but I grew to appreciate it deeply as I continued reading through it. In a way it reads like a church history book, but it is put together, not in a linear way, but organized by the various movements that have characterized Christianity through the centuries:"The martyrs call us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and the desert saints to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. The early church challenges us to create a community of belonging for the broken, displaced, dis-connected people. Medieval monks invit us to abide by healthy rhythms, mendicants to imitate the life of Christ and mystics to seek union with God. The Reformers urge us to listen to the Word of God, evangelicals to surrender our lives to it and missionaries to proclaim it to the world."I could see in each of these strains of faith some fairly obvious weaknesses, so I appreciated the author's comments at the end of the book: "None of these traditions is without fault. I could just as easily have written a book about their weaknesses. The history of Christian spirituality does not always tell a happy story. Every person, movement and tradition I have introduced has left an ambiguous legacy. I have chosen to dwell on the good part of the story, though I could have done the opposite."The book is well-written and researched, and is well worth the time spent reading it.

  • Barry
    2018-09-17 18:47

    Mr. Sittser presents church history from the standpoint of spiritual practices and movements through the ages. For instance, the first period of church history is labeled Witness, for in the days of the early church there were martyrs aplenty, and their witness caused Christianity to spread rapidly and expansively. Each subsequent era gets a title, and Mr. Sittser tells stories of characters from that age to illustrate the defining characteristics of the church at that time. In this way, the history of the church gets told, but it gets told from a perspective that is unusual for history books. This history book is not so much about facts and figures but about how the church grew and changed and how believers related to God differently (or how the Spirit moved in that period).This is an excellent book! The stories of people are fascinating and well-told. The summaries of each age are well-done, though you would not want to base all your church history knowledge on this book. The writing is smooth and flows well, making for an easy-to-read yet educational book, at once interesting and exciting.

  • Ryan Linkous
    2018-10-17 11:43

    This is the second time I've read this book and I'm now sure that I really like this book by Gerald Sittser. Though there can be a few inaccuracies, he's done his research. This book is a good combination of church history and spirituality. Could you call it a history of Christian spirituality? Maybe/maybe not. However, he examines different traditions throughout the church from an evangelical perspective and tries to find something valuable in it for today. Some of my favorite chapters are the ones on the Desert Fathers and Monasticism.I think this would be a great book to give a layperson to expose them from bits of church history and to help them appreciate traditions that differ from those evangelical Protestants are used to.

  • Jean
    2018-10-05 13:56

    This history of spirituality is a must read for students of the Bible. its concise, well organized and readable. I was engaged from the very beginning. The author organized a vast amount of information and history in to meaningful sections. For lay people this is should be required reading to understand the history of Christianity in various time segments. The Bibliography alone will keep the rest of us reading quality Christian literature for a very long time. Every serious Bible student, lay Bible teacher, educated Christian should understand their Christian faith in the context of the many than have gone before. An excellent book to read.

  • Pete Foley
    2018-10-16 12:58

    Highly recommend this book as an excellent overview of the early Church, its evolution over the centuries, and the earliest Christian mystics. Sittser does an excellent job of conveying his passion for Christian life while conveying the deep spirituality of the earliest Christians...many of whom were martyred for their faith. The book re-energizes and challenges the reader to return to the faith of earlier centuries, while also accurately depicting the shortcomings of the Church - be it through monastic seclusion, or the papacy prior to the Reformation. Christians of all ilks - Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, etc. - will thoroughly enjoy this book.

  • Diane
    2018-10-05 16:55

    This book delves into the history of the Church for inspiration. It is a combination of history and biography, beginning with first-century martyrs all the way through modern missionaries. Although the volume is arranged topically, the topics are chosen so that they fit into a chronological scheme as well. The book is interesting, but I would have preferred it if the author had included more and/or longer passages from the writers that he reviews. I thought there was too much in the way of a review and not enough of the author's original work.

  • Blake Chenoweth
    2018-10-07 13:07

    I find it difficult to describe this book to people. It is a book of Christian history, spiritual disciplines, Christian martyr and theologians biographies it is all a part of what makes this book engaging and also a read that takes some time. I love the way Sittser writes, it is possible however that maybe this book was a chapter or two too long.A wonderful read for anybody interested in Christian spirituality and the practices of the saints throughout history. This book also has wonderful challenges for you as a reader to encourage you to go deeper in your faith.

  • Jesvin Jose
    2018-09-25 18:01

    4.5 stars actually! Well written & engaging mini biographies of church fathers, mystics, monks, reformers & missionaries. Everyone may not agree with all the traditions represented in the book; nonetheless, these different traditions have a lot to teach us (warts and all), if only we are teachable! It is indeed fascinating to observe how God brings people to Him in Christ. These men and women of God drank deeply from the living water the Savior offers and they encourage us to do the same (John 4:14)!

  • Shawn
    2018-10-15 16:47

    I found out about this book through the radio program Family Life Today. The basic premise of the book is that we have something to learn from every generation/movement throughout the history of the Church. Going from the Early Church who teach us the value of community to the pioneer missionaries who show the value of taking risks, Gerald Sittser walks through many disciplines and virtues that the modern Church may have lost or undervalued.

  • Margaret D'Anieri
    2018-10-07 17:54

    A wonderful, readable overview of Christian spirituality through history. Written from a reformed perspective, meaning that it includes evangelism as a spiritual movement. My quibbles are that he strays into conversion of non-Christian faithful in some places, and leaves some critique unspoken - although he covers for that in the epilogue, where he says he consciously chose to focus on the benefits of each of the spiritual movements he describes.

  • Joel Daniel Harris
    2018-10-04 17:00

    Great overview of Christian faith and practice throughout history. Sittser strives to pull out best practices and highlight what was done well and, in so doing, remind us of how we ought to live and lifestyles we could choose to embrace. Excellent and inspiring. I should mention that this means that some of the faults of some of these periods of history aren't addressed, but that isn't the point of this book and Sittser is honest and humble in his presentation.

  • Adam Shaeffer
    2018-10-07 19:00

    This book offers a clear and engaging history of Christian spirituality from the early days of the church through the Evangelical movement and pioneer missionaries of today. It is thoughtfully done and paints a fascinating picture of the different modes and seasons of Christian spirituality through the centuries. We have much to learn from the mothers and fathers of the faith and Sittser points us toward wisdom both ancient and modern in this wonderful history.

  • Aaron
    2018-10-08 11:57

    This was a really great look at the highlights of different church traditions and what people can draw from them. It challenged me to live differently in a lot of ways. It's not just history for history's sake (which I like and would read), but it's history with a purpose: what can you glean from these traditions?

  • Brent Harris
    2018-09-17 19:06

    This book was a wonderful overview of the movements of Christian spirituality over the past 2000 years. It has great tact, insight and wonderful ideas about how to keep these alive in our contemporary setting. It is not an exhaustive overview of spirituality and does still suffer from a western bias despite having a whole chapter devoted to Eastern Orthodoxy.

  • Amy Young
    2018-09-17 12:56

    Amazing book. Amzazing book. Sittser helps Chirstian history and practices come alive as he is able to set them in context, provide illustrtations through biographies and make them accessible to us today. Each section he looks at and offers suggestions for how that could be practiced today. Great discussion questions at the end. AND I love an annotated reading list!

  • J.
    2018-10-04 14:46

    Another great book. I thought this book was the perfect companion to Shelly's "Church History in Plain Language". I read them together as part of a course. I can't recall enjoying assigned reading more. While Shelly's book really has no blank spots this book enriched the detail of Shelly's book yet they both stand solidly on their own merit. Loved reading them both.

  • Brian Kilde
    2018-10-16 19:07

    Such an inspiring challenge to live a life of sacrifice for Jesus. Even if you don't agree with every practice and method the saints, martyrs, an missionaries lived out, surely you will appreciate their fervor and dedication to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Thanks to Gerald L Sittser for chronicling their lives for us. This book is a tremendous undertaking but a blessing to read.