Fans of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, or who are interested in Christian spiritual formation, will want to check out the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible released this week By Harper San Fransisco.
As evidenced by the title, this new study Bible is put together by a group of scholars and authors from Renovare (a not-for-profit organization committed to working for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions; Christian in commitment, international in scope, and ecumenical in breadth.) Those unfamiliar with Renovare might be familiar with Foster and Willard. Richard Foster, a Quaker theologian, is the author of popular works like Celebration of Discipline and Devotional Classics (both of which I own and recommend). Dallas Willard, an acclaimed theologian and professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, is the author of numerous books, including The Divine Conspiracy and Renovation of the Heart (both of which I own but have yet to read).
One might ask whether we really need another version or slant on the Bible. Obviously the editors think the effort is worthwhile and explain the purpose of this new undertaking this way:
to recover the dynamics of Scripture for the spiritual trans formation of the people of God: past, present, and future. It provides a view of God’s community through history, the ups-and-downs, ins-and-outs of a with-God life. While other study Bibles serve as resources for sermon exposition, higher criticism, or personal devotion, the Renovare Bible helps us capture the reality of living with the Trinitarian community in the ever-present kingdom of God. It recasts the Bible as the primary written resource for informing our minds and transforming our spirits in Christlikeness.
What’s that mean exactly? Well, the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible includes:
– An introductory essay explaining the paradigm of seeing the whole of Scripture as the unfolding story of God’s plan for how we can have an intimate love relationship with our Creator – which we are calling “The With-God Life.”
– A series of fifteen essays sprinkled throughout the Bible laying out the progression of how God’s people have related to their God and the changing nature of the “with-God life” – from direct individual communion in the Garden of Eden, to mediation through a family, a tribe, a nation, a king and a Temple, exile, travail, through the coming of Godâ€™s own Son to a vision of an eternity of direct intimate contact.
– Introduction and notes for each book of the Bible explaining not only the historical and theological content but also highlighting the main themes for spiritual formation.
– Spiritual exercises for helping you incorporate and deepen what you are encountering in your Bible reading.
– Profiles of key biblical characters emphasizing how they practiced Spiritual Disciplines and the “with-God life.”
– A “Spiritual Disciplines Index” that provides a glossary and Bible references for the Spiritual Disciplines and key themes of spiritual formation.
As I noted above, fans of Foster, Willard, and Renovare (or those looking for new insight and/or a fresh look at these issues) will want to check out this new resource and consider adding it to their spiritual library. It seems well suited to both personal study and contemplation as well as group study and discussion.
Sample chapters and other material can be found along with a more complete look at the ideas behind it at the Renovare site.