Though much of what we have available today on the subject of spiritual formation has been written by people from antiquity, there is a rising breed that has picked up the banner and have begun to wave it riotously. Among the more notable names are Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. While they have become the faces of spiritual formation in the 21st century, they do not stand alone.
James Bryan Smith is one of the names you may not be immediately familiar with, but soon you will be. As the protoge of Willard and Foster, Smith has taken the lead on developing a curriculum to teach and develop spiritual formation. He has published three volumes in this series, and I understand that a fourth volume nears completion.
The Good and Beautiful God is subtitled “Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows.” It is designed to help the reader have a clearer picture of who God is. Smith does this by deconstructing the common narratives we hold of God and replacing them with the narratives that Jesus held, practiced, and taught. Romans 12:2 argues that transformation takes place when we renew our minds and change the way we think. The way we renew our minds is to replace the old thought with a new and better thought. For example, one of the best parcels in the book is Smith’s discussion of the goodness of God. The ancient narrative held that “God is an angry judge. If you do well, you will be blessed; if you sin, you will be punished.” The narrative of Jesus, however, reveals that God is infinitely good and is always out for our good, even when we can’t understand it.
Each chapter in The Good and Beautiful God seeks to offer hope for transformation by exchanging wrong narratives for right ones. By changing the way we think, we can experience God’s tranforming power. I commend this book to you without reservation.