Award winning Washington author and ECPA Gold Medallion winner, Gerald L. Sittser, Ph.D., returns to the writing arena with a book on Christian spirituality. Professor of theology, Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington, Sittser believes Christians can’t understand Biblical spirituality unless they understand martyrdom’s significance.
This book’s narratives showcase the early martyrs, such as Augustine (A.D. 354-430) and his journey to God, up to modern missionaries like Jim Elliott (1927-1956), who believed “the salvation of the lost more important than their (missionaries) own comfort.” Augustine’s and Elliott’s detailed stories and dozens of others reveal how the martyrs lived and why they made the choice to follow—and die—for Christ.
Eugene Peterson wrote the foreword and uses the analogy that just as someone lowers a bucket into a deep well for water, Sittser draws names and stories from the deep well of our family of faith to encourage modern believers and give them a sense of rootedness in their faith. He points out that Sittser highlights the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in John 17 where the Lord prayed in intercession for His disciples, a prayer that also included modern believers…“I ask not only on behalf of these (His disciples), but also on behalf of those who will believe in me…”
The author believes persecution is a necessary part of discipleship, but he writes that Christians who live in the West rarely encounter maltreatment because Christian faith is part of our cultural norm. Unlike the early martyrs who deviated from their cultural norm in some of the following ways: they accepted women in leadership positions, and didn’t support pagan rituals, which impacted their economy, these Christians adhered to a strict moral code, and practiced a “sacred meal.”
Eleven chapters document a variety of stories and struggles that reveal a family of faith held together by love for Christ. Each chapter ends with “Practices” that include Scripture and questions for personal application. Discussion questions, an annotated reading list, and illustration credits follow the conclusion. An extensive notes section and subject index complete the book.
The lives of the saints are provided to inspire, encourage and invite us to join them on our own journeys of transformation. While Sittser acknowledges the torture and pain of the martyrs, the books focus is on their lives instead of their deaths. Consider a copy of Sittser’s excellent, well-researched book for your home or church library.
Water From A Deep Well, by Gerald L. Sittser, Foreword by Eugene H. Peterson, IVP Books, 2007, 364 Pages, ISBN-13: 978-0830834938 $22.00
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