This book is considered standard reading in most Bible Colleges and Seminaries when it comes to spiritual formation requirements What is problematic is Willards interpretation of Matt. 11:29-30 as a lifestyle of the practice of Spiritual Disciplines Though I consider this book not to be as profound as Richard Fosters Celebration of Discipline I did considerable highlighting and noting of many places that I deemed questionable and concerning Despite the endorsement on the front cover by Richard J Foster who has been highly influential in reclaiming Monastic/ Eastern practices into Protestantism Sue Mon Kidds endorsement on the back cover I consider disturbing since she is an advocate of inter-spirituality and mysticism If you are required to read this book for a Spiritual Formation class I highly recommend that you do read Bob Dewaays thorough review of the book on his Critical Issues Commentary web-site before you start.
This is a good quick read on spiritual disciplines, but it is not that great of a book. If you want to read on spiritual disciplines read Richard Fosters classic, Celebration of Discipline, or Donald Whitney's, Spiritual disciplines for the Christian life.
Dallas Willard's sub-title explains it well: "Understanding How God Changes Lives." As Richard Foster introduced the practice of spiritual disciplines to the "Baby Boom" generation of Protestants, so Willard introduced them to the theology of spiritual disciplines. He teaches not only what disciplines to practice, but why to practice them. "The Spirit of the Disciplines" is theologically grounded and psychologically astute. As a professor of theology and psychology, this is why I make "The Spirit of the Disciplines" required reading in our seminary. When Protestants were first re-introduced to the historic disciplines of the church, many balked. They complained that the disciplines smacked of eastern mysticism. Willard led the charge in elucidating the Christian theology behind the disciplines for the Christian life. To this day, no one has written a more astute theology of practical spirituality. Reviewer: Dr. Robert W. Kellemen, author of "Soul Physicians" and "Spiritual Friends."
This book contains crucial insights into how grace works in accordance with our efforts to live the Christian life. It also contains invaluable insights into the body's role in spiritual formation. It is a must-read, and should be read in conjunction with Willard's other books. Contrary to one reviewer on this site, Willard is far from being a deist. I have no idea where that assessment came from. He speaks constantly of God's action in our lives as the cornerstone of living the Christian life, and how the disciplines relate to that. Practicing the disciplines really brings about authentic change. Simply reading a book about them will not bring about the abundant life, but entering into them will prove it so. "Wisdom is proved right by her actions." Thank you, Dr. Willard.