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Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World
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Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,706 Ratings  ·  98 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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Jan 31, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing
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
Jacob Aitken
Mar 21, 2015 Jacob Aitken rated it really liked it
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
May 07, 2007 AJ rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2015 Ashley rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious, self_help
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
Nov 05, 2011 David rated it really liked it
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
Matt De Kam
Sep 02, 2007 Matt De Kam rated it really liked it
Excellent book about living a simple life. Everyone living in western culture should consider these ideas.
Diana Glyer
Aug 19, 2014 Diana Glyer rated it really liked it
It's good when a book on the spiritual life helps you understand how to live; it's great when it helps you actually want to live better. That's Richard Foster. He illuminates my understanding, but he also stirs up my will. This is my go-to book for Lenten reflections: always crystal clear, always challenging, yet always filled with grace and hope.
Dec 04, 2008 Dane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
classic foster. celebration of discipline changed my life and I suspect I will look back and say the same of this one.
Tony Villatoro
Mar 31, 2015 Tony Villatoro rated it really liked it
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
James Scott
Mar 18, 2017 James Scott rated it it was amazing
As he usually does, Richard Foster is both succinct and insightful as he tackles the subject of simplicity in the modern christian life, at a personal level as well as church and national. Coupled with an excellent discussion on the need for a social justice drive to the Christian life. Though he does often drift into the all too common focus of only speaking to the middle class or wealthier (with such tired models as the 80-10-10 rule which are excellent starting places for suburbanites but may ...more
Phil Whittall
May 17, 2016 Phil Whittall rated it really liked it
Freedom of Simplicity is a classic and a must read for everyone interested in seeking out the simple life in the 21st century. Few people will have written so thoughtfully and drawn so deeply from the wells of Christian experience than Foster.

He focuses as much on the inner life of simplicity as he does on its outward expression, correctly recognising that if we do not have peace and contentment on the inside then what we do on the outside will lack authenticity and integrity, it will lack the v
Mar 12, 2012 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-books
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
Scott Jeffries
Jan 06, 2009 Scott Jeffries rated it really liked it
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.

Mike E.
Mar 29, 2011 Mike E. rated it liked it
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
Mar 16, 2008 Jeremiah rated it did not like it
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
Mar 26, 2014 polly rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 01, 2009 Jenni rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 07, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: all
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.
Doug Dale
Jun 19, 2011 Doug Dale rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, finances
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
Jun 27, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
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
Ryan Linkous
Apr 14, 2015 Ryan Linkous rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Orton
Mar 19, 2015 Andrew Orton rated it it was amazing
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:
Apr 26, 2008 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 04, 2009 Toby rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2007 Luke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: living-simply
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
Nov 27, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: David
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
"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
Michael Hsu
Mar 17, 2014 Michael Hsu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Karen E.
Jan 04, 2012 Karen E. rated it liked it
I read this book because I am interested in leading a simpler, less materialistic life. But what I actually liked about the book is the author's attitude toward scripture, prayer, and spirituality in general. The last third of the books seems to be specific to the leaders of Christian churches, but the first two-thirds were quite thought provoking. Foster is a Quaker, but I didn't realize this until I looked him up on Wikipedia. The book was first published in 1981, but I read the updated editio ...more
Feb 11, 2008 Calinda rated it it was amazing
This book will make you think. Don't read it unless you're ready to really consider some things about how you live and make some changes. Because if you don't change a few things about how you live, your conscience will bother you about it until you do.

A reminder that we have SO MUCH, and alot of people in the world have so little. Do we really need it all?

And a glimpse into how simplifying, deleting, cutting back...all those things you can't find time to do...will both free up time for things t
Jun 21, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Two of the things I appreciate most about this book are its emphasis on simplicity of spirit and its creative, experimental approach to putting that spirit into practice. Living simply is primarily an internal matter--making a priority of the one needful thing. Foster refuses to lay down laws, but instead brainstorms a cornucopia of ways to put the spirit of simplicity into action. A favorite: before making a purchase, present your need to God and see whether you receive help from unexpected qua ...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
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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.” 15 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.” 13 likes
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