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Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,320 ratings  ·  87 reviews
A revised and updated edition of the manifesto that shows how simplicity is not merely having less stress and more leisure but an essential spiritual discipline for the health of our soul.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by HarperOne (first published October 22nd 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,637)
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Julie Luekenga
This book, published in 1981, tackles the now very trendy topic of living simply. Before it was popular to talk about paring down (remember this was the decade of prosperity and soaring stocks) and being "green" was so "in", the author teaches these concepts (and others)all in the name of simplicity. Couched in spirituality, specifically Christianity, Foster offers the theories, benefits and suggestions to simplify our lives.

At the heart of his premise is to focus on only one pursuit: seeking G
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Matt De Kam
Excellent book about living a simple life. Everyone living in western culture should consider these ideas.
Jacob Aitken
As far as spiritual disciplines books go, this is one of the better ones. Foster is (usually) wise enough to know that enforcing a lot of these disciplines and practices as a "law" is legalism. And he doesn't do that. His thesis is simple (no pun intended): simplicity allows us to live in freedom to God (Foster 3). Simplicity exposes our numerous "false selves."

How then should one live in simplicity? Here is where it gets tricky. Foster knows he cannot "make" any of his suggestions a law for the
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Angela
After being so inspired and challenged by Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, I searched for anything else written by Richard J. Foster & stumbled upon this book. He had so much more to say on the spiritual discipline of simplicity that what was originally one chapter in the Celebration of Disciplines book became a book itself. I read it because I believed Richard Foster had experienced a level of spiritual depth that I could only dream of before now...I discovered I was ...more
AJ
May 07, 2007 AJ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: spiritually mindful
Shelves: soul
"A pivotal paradox for us to understand is that simplicity is both a grace and a discipline...There is no way that we can build up our willpower, put ourselves into this contortion or that, and attain it...It is a discipline because we are called to do something."

"The connection between obedience and blessing is genuinely significant, and the significance is not primarily in the notion of being rewarded for doing what is right. That has its place, but it is a minor place, almost a childish plac
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David
Simplicity, says Foster, is far more than getting rid of household clutter. It starts with inner simplicity, a state of awareness of and communion with God. It means learning to have a single focus--hearing his voice and obeying. It entails simplicity and truthfulness of speech. It has as its goal the ability to serve others, to give more of one's money, time, and talents. Foster moves on from individual simplicity to simplicity in the church and then from there to its impact on the world. He re ...more
Ashley
A Christian faith based guide to Simplicity as a Christian discipline. We are finishing up this study with my Sunday School class, and I have enjoyed it immensely. The only complaint from my class seems to be that Foster chooses for all of his examples the most extreme models of simplicity without enough models, other than some of his own choices, of people living in the modern world and struggling with this issue. Still, Foster begins with by outlining Simplicity as a vital Christian discipline ...more
Ryan Linkous
Foster writes an excellent work advocating for the Christian discipline of simplicity. Essentially simplicity is avoiding the idolatry of money and of the world in order that one might serve others and work for justice. This book is timely. The main part I read was the Biblical and Historical Foundations for the discipline of simplicity. They were great chapters especially the historical background. I didn't read through all the practical chapters of how to work this out, but I read his chapter ...more
Dane
classic foster. celebration of discipline changed my life and I suspect I will look back and say the same of this one.
Tony Villatoro
This book challenged me. Divided in two parts, The Foundation and The Practice, it made me think deeper into what a life of simplicity looks like. The first part was full of examples from Scripture (OT and NT) and from church history on what simplicity is. The second part taught me about how Christians can apply this in their lives.

Towards the end, the author dealt with how "the world" could practice simplicity. This is where it got gray for me since this is beyond my scope and it would take a w
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Scott Jeffries
Richard Foster's book Freedom of Simplicity was written more than 30 years ago. For a book that discusses money, materialism, and possessions, there is not much that needs to be updated.

What strikes me is that so much of what he touches on in this book - moderation, simplicity, and generosity - has not become mainstream 30 years later. Why haven't Christians embraced a more simple existence? Why is materialism as rampant in the church as it is outside the church? Foster's words remain timely.

Fos
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Shannon
I'm surprised I haven't run across references to this book or author -- overall, it's an excellent book. Very little of it seems dated, even after 30 years. Foster approaches simple living from a Christian perspective -- when we have a singleminded focus on God, he says, our lives will take on an external simplicity. He then offers several very practical (though not easy!) suggestions for reducing personal consumption in order to increase giving to those in need of both physical and spiritual fo ...more
Jeremiah
I've benefited from some of what Foster has written previously but this book was a great idea with poor execution. I think Foster is a wonderful person with a great ministry but I think his writing is just flat-out boring. In this book he comes off as someone who is straining to be a scholar, a mystic, and an ordinary guy. Have you ever sat under a really boring pastor who just throws out verse after verse of obscure bible passages and tells you what they mean in the Greek or Hebrew? Oh, then he ...more
Mike E.
In this book from 1981 Foster writes about something that is trendy today, simplification. We find few specifics or prescriptions here, but a helpful book to think through how we should live. This book is ideal for those of us who are in the fight to use our resources to glorify Christ and advance His kingdom. Foster argues for the "Divine Center," meaning, in my vernacular, the Christ-centered life.

One of the most helpful chapters was "Simplicity Among the Saints"--a diachronic survey of simpli
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Jenni
I think this book does an excellent job of explaining why simplicity is an essential spiritual discipline.

Foster first gives what he considers to be the foundation for simplicity. In this section, he covers the complexity and paradoxical nature of simplicity, traces its biblical roots in the Old and New Testaments, and then finally gives examples of how simplicity has been manifested and taught by Christians throughout history.

After establishing the foundation for simplicity, Foster goes on to d
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polly
Nov 22, 2014 polly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: faith
My friend E and I read this as a 'book study' earlier in the year. It is a fabulous paradigm-shifting book. I already considered myself someone who valued simplicity as a way of living our my faith, but Foster elegantly explores the call to Christian simplicity in depth. He does not limit this merely to lifestyle choices (materialism) but also expands it to various other parts of our lives.

One important note that I do not think I will ever forget is that I took away that those of us who live in
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Jonathan
If you want a simpler life, or think that you should, this is the book to read.

Foster writes early on that he was very hesitant to write this book. His worry is that material simplicity, divorced from the other spiritual disciplines and Christ, becomes just a trapping legalism. Readers should have no reason to share his worry. Foster does an incredible job of building up what holistic simplicity really means (simplicity of faith, mind, time, possessions, etc.) and building everything on Christ.
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Jeremy
Most books I've read that call readers to a specific way of living tend to err on the side of dogmatism, passionately espousing a very narrow way of living that they have been called to and that they, by extension, assume everyone else has been called to as well. Foster does a masterful, seemingly Spirit-led job of navigating the reader through the very complex issues involved in determining what a life of simplicity looks like for each individual, given their cultural context.

This is not a "do
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Kelly Belvis
Not my favorite of Richard Foster's books. Still there were some helpful suggestions to ponder. My complaint with these types of books is that they generally do not provide a balanced view. Some are called to simplicity but if everyone was called to poverty then most of the charities in this country would dissolve not to mention the entire economy.
Doug Dale
I read this book about three years ago and remembered getting a lot out of it. To be honest, I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much the second time through, but it was still a worthwhile read.

I was unsure whether I should give it three or four stars. There are a few directions that the author goes that I'm not sure I totally agree with and I'm always nervous about that fine line between the idea of the gospel transforming society and the transformation of society becoming the gospel.

I ended up going
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Chuck Cova
Richard Foster is an amazing author. This book was so good for me, as I have been pursuing the discipline of simplicity, and Foster led me through a depth of ideas, issues, opportunities, challenges and reasons that would have taken me years on my own to uncover and work through.
Toby
Not quite as deep or as solid as Celebration of Discipline, but with some great gems of wisdom none the less. The book is copyrighted 1981 and there are some disappointingly out of date cultural and environmental references that distract a bit in a few places. However, there is some great practical advice on simplicity. The main thrust of the book is that in general "seek first the kingdom and His righteousness" leads to a simplicity of heart and of outward expression. There are a couple of shor ...more
Liz
Freedom of Simplicity grew out of a chapter on simplicity in Celebration of Discipline. This book is a great gut-check for Christians concerned about how their possessions and lifestyle affect their faith (and definitely for those who are not concerned!)
Charity
Absolutely worth the read. Some sections were tough, and I'm not sure I agree with all the practical applications (some seem legalistic to me).

I'll definitely be reading again, especially if there's an updated version out there. (Mine is from the 70s).
Andrew Orton
I love this book because it pushes me to focus on that which is ultimate: seeking the Kingdom of God. Richard Foster presents the scriptural basis for pursuing simplicity, and examples of people who have shunned our materialistic culture for the pursuit of spiritual things. He maintains a delicate balance of presenting suggestions and methods for pursuing simplicity without succumbing to legalism ("the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life").

Some big takeaways:
- quote from Soren Kierkegaard:
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Daniel
Apr 28, 2008 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone except extreme capitialists, no, especially extreme capitialists
I have read and re-read this book since Beecroft turned me on to it. It is a convicting life-changer. The most powerful thing about it was one of the very first chapters. Foster did something that I had never seen done before. He placed every scripture, every word Christ uttered concerning wealth and possession end to end, slap together. I was stunned. Taken one at a time, I believe I was able to rationalize them away or dismiss His words or just slide over them with an easy, "but I'm not rich." ...more
Lena Brewster
This book tackles materialism head on and is very thought provoking. I wish I could mandate it's reading to about 99 percent of Americans. I could stand to re-read it every few weeks!
Michael Hsu
In the eyes of God, our value is not tied to wealth, status, accomplishments or how fancy the title is on our business card. But rather we will be judge by how we treat our brothers and sisters and our obedience to God. This book talks about many provoking ideas such as we are only supervisors of material goods, we need to have some adversities or struggle in life in order to bring us to a greater good, we need to look out for the hungry and the poor and simplicity is an inward reality that is r ...more
Caroline
Apr 06, 2014 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: David
Shelves: 2014, nonfiction
"Perhaps no work is more foundational to the individual embodying Christian simplicity in the world than our becoming more comfortable in our own skin. The less comfortable we are with ourselves, the more we will look to things around us for comfort. The more assured we are with ourselves, the less assurance we will need from things outside us...We are to focus on the one rather than the many, the clear rather than the distorted, the simple rather than the complex. We are to reorient ourselves t ...more
Luke
Wonderful book. One that I wish I could just transfer to my heart and mind. This book contains vital perspective for Christians, especially us, embedded in a capitalistic society where everything is pandering to our desires and promising satisfaction. Foster reminds us that the simple, unified, focused heart following Christ is not only what we're called to , but where true joy waits. It's so easy to know in your head, but it's such a slow process-- really, it's walking with Christ. He writes ab ...more
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Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today's Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an intrachurch movement committed to the renewal of the Church in all her multifaceted ...more
More about Richard J. Foster...
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines

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“Jesus Christ and all the writers of the New Testament call us to break free of mammon lust and live in joyous trust...They point us toward a way of living in which everything we have we receive as a gift, and everything we have is cared for by God, and everything we have is available to others when it is right and good. This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity. It is the means of liberation and power to do what is right and to overcome the forces of fear and avarice.” 14 likes
“And so I urge you to still every motion that is not rooted in the Kingdom. Become quiet, hushed, motionless until you are finally centered. Strip away all excess baggage and nonessential trappings until you have come into the stark reality of the Kingdom of God. Let go of all distractions until you are driven into the Core. Allow God to reshuffle your priorities and eliminate unnecessary froth. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, 'Pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor.' That is our first task: to grip the hands of Jesus with such tenacity that we are obliged to follow his lead, to seek first his Kingdom.” 11 likes
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