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Richard J. Foster
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Streams Of Living Water: Celebrating The Great Traditions Of Christian Faith

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  1,552 ratings  ·  55 reviews
"Helps us to understand what makes our Christian faith so rich and meaningful..." Ted W. Engstrom, President Emeritus, World VisionRichard J. Foster has touched countless lives with his spiritual classic, Celebration of Discipline, which has sold over one million copies since it was first published twenty years ago. Now, with Streams of Living Water, Foster again strengthe ...more
Published (first published January 1st 1989)
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While this wasn't my favorite of the (two) books that I've read of Richard Foster so far, it--like his other writing--still has his wonderful writing style that always seems inspiring and transcendent. I find it hard to describe, but maybe it's best likened to fresh, warm, hearty bread, although it's less earthy than that, so not the perfect metaphor. However, it's similar in that it feels at once comforting and heartening, rich and wholesome, and too-soon finished.

In this book, Foster discuss
Jun 19, 2008 Janelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Christian faith
This book is a wonderful introduction and summary of six streams or traditions that have influenced Christianity:
*The Contemplative Tradition-the prayer filled life
*The Holiness Tradition-the virtuous life
*The Charismatic Tradition-the Spirit-empowered life
*The Social Justice Tradition-the compassionate life
*The Evangelical Tradition-the Word-centered life
*The Incarnational Tradition-the sacramental life

Foster does a wonderful job of presenting the best of what each tradition brings to the Churc
I'm surprised this book was not already listed on my Good Reads list since I've continually pulled it off my shelf over the past couple years to reference. This book would be on my top ten list of books I wish all Christians would read. Foster explores the different "streams" of the Christian faith and shows the historical richness of each as well as the blind spots that we must be aware of. He divides the historic church into the following groups, while allowing for overlap and influence:

*The C
Think this is my favorite Richard Foster book so far.

Foster paints a picture of Christian spirituality by describing it through the lens of six different streams of water, each flowing from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The six streams, Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical, and Incarnational weave and overlap and yet are distinct in their engagement with God.

For each stream he paints a picture using biblical, historical and contemporary figures who have exemplified a h
I've read this book a couple of times, once for personal growth, and subsequently for a class I've taught at CCU. The book excellently reflects upon the history of Christianity to paint a picture of what it means to live the God-centered life. It helped broaden my perspective a great deal, having come from a bibliocentric background, or what Foster calls the Word-Centered Life. While a biblical focus is essential, even foundational to growing in God, there are many other things that God calls us ...more
Nathan Good
It took me over a year to complete this book (I set it down for a while in the middle) so it is hard to give a review of the material, as I do not necessarily remember details from the beginning.
However, I sincerely appreciated Richard's attempt to summarize the great traditions of the Christian faith. He did this by telling the story of three notable figures within that tradition: one from Scripture, one "historical", and one "modern". He also, then, explains the tradition, what we can learn fr
Cynthia Symons
This is my favorite of Foster's books. The authors cover all the great traditions of the Christian faith, illustrated by prominent figures from the past. Some choices are surprising, and refreshing because of that. I think that Foster (along with are right that the Church is lacking in balance--you can see it when you attend services from different traditions. In one kind of service, everything centers around the sermon, and if it "falls flat" so goes the whole service with it. Chu ...more
Adam Parker
Yet again, another inspiring and profound book from the pen of Richard Foster, led by Christ. I was not exactly sure what I was getting into when I opened to the first page of this book, but it ended up being a refocusing tool that connected me with some of the Christian greats of my faith. Foster takes six concepts out of Christianity which he calls "streams"; Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical, Incarnational and meticulously defines them by showing us historical ...more
What's not to love about Streams of Living Water? It's one of my favorite books in the internship curriculum because it explores the many 'streams' of practicing Christian faith throughout history. As someone who grew up in an 'evangelical' stream and was gradually introduced to the other streams (social justice, incarnation, charismatic, holiness, and contemplative) later, I appreciate the comprehensive look at different ways of following Jesus. It challenges the reader to broaden their view an ...more
I would recommend this to just about everyone.
Richard Foster identifies 6 streams of Christian spirituality: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational. He gives 3 historical examples (one from the 20th century, one from the Bible, and one from in between) of people who represent each stream, lists 4 strengths and 4 weaknesses, and then lists a few practical ways to incorporate this stream into your life.

It really helps me to keep from drawing into the s
In February 2008, Christianity Today ran a glowing cover story about Evangelicalism's recent embrace of medieval Roman Catholic mysticism entitled The Future lies in the Past.1 The article traced the beginning of the movement as follows: "The movement seems to have exploded in a 24-month period in 1977-1978, which saw the publication of Richard Foster's bestselling Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth and Robert Webber's Common Roots: A Call to Evangelical Maturity." Bob DeWaa ...more
Jennifer Grosser
Foster describes the six main "streams" within Christianity: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, evangelical, social justice and incarnational. The author's premise is that Christians today need to get back in touch with their roots and balance out their approach to God and life through each of the six streams. He illustrates each one with 3 historical examples--one from early church history, one from the Bible, and one from within the last 200 years or so. It's a helpful book with, I feel, a ...more
loved these short devotionals. Took with me on a retreat and really spoke to my heart.
I learned a lot about faith and it's expressions in this book.
Chuck Engelhardt
Worth the read, I just didn't find it easy. Richard Foster includes very insightful commentary and suggestions for Christian growth. The format of going through the streams and discussing the lives of a Biblical, historical, and contemporary example worked well, although at times I felt that Foster had to really stretch to make his point. I did particularly like the strengths and potential hazard sections and how Foster related the streams to one another in a complimentary fashion. Information w ...more
Adam Shields
full review at

Short review: This is a good view of the different focuses of the Christian Church. It is helpful to see different streams of faith and how they connect with your part of the church. This is a body theology book. Foster is trying to show that the whole body is important, not just the part that you focus on. The book is a bit on the dry side. Probably could be edited a bit. But the content is good.
I was surprised that Richard Foster wrote such a good history book. I liked the structure of writing about a non Biblical person although from the past, a Biblical character and a contemporary person who exemplified the "stream." Lots of information and I thought, "This could be a book for a course." I was imagining essay questions as well as multiple-choice that I'd use if I taught from the book.
In this book, Foster discusses the various traditions of the Christian Faith (Holiness, Evangelical, Social Justice, etc.). In each tradition, he discusses: how Jesus modeled the tradition, a timeline of prominent individuals and movements in the history of the tradition, a bio of a biblical, historical, and contemporary example of the tradition, the benefits and drawbacks of each tradition, and how to grow in each tradition.
Connor Searle
Foster presents a balanced and thorough exploration of the renewal movements in Christian history as they are expressed in the various traditions of the church. Presenting historical, biblical, and contemporary paradigms, Foster inspires and challenges the modern day believer to expand their understanding of Christian spirituality and grow into a holistic vision of the Great Tradition that is the Christian faith.
Jenn Raley
This book is a really great overview of six different major streams of Western Christianity. It's a wonderful way to gain appreciation for aspects of the faith other than one's own, as well as a helpful way to gain historical perspective on one's own stream(s) of Christian practice.

This book seems like a hidden gem. I recommend this book to anyone interested in having a broader perspective of Christianity.
Romeo Pakasi
Great book explaining the different traditions in Christianity from Holiness, Evangelism, Contemplation and Incarnation.

The book clearly outlines each traditions and provide figure leaders who best exemplifies such tradition.

The two leaders who I find interesting to learn from are Pastor Boenhoeffer and Pastor Billy Graham, both of them best represent Holiness and Evangelism tradition respectively.

Carrie F.
This organization of all the different paths in following Jesus is one of the best faith clarifying books I've read. It will be a good reference of all the significant people and movements of faith over the years. The book illuminated streams of faith so that all can relate to the Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelistic and Incarnational ways of faith.
Benton Cole
Foster presents a well-formatted explanation of six dimensions of Christian faith and practice. I liked that each chapter presented historical precedent, biblical precedent, contemporary examples, definition, strengths, potential perils, and suggestions for practice. Overall, offers a fairly well-balanced perspective on the Christian life.
Rachel Ramm
Fair, insightful, and compassionate as the different "streams" of Christian practice are described, with both strengths and weaknesses examined. I liked the organization of the book, as it alternated examples/biographies of each tradition with people from history, the Bible, and modern times. Especially loved the part in chapter 6 about Peter.
Took me a long time to get into it, but once I did, I loved it. Foster is really respectful of and generous to all traditions and denominations within Christianity, but is also willing to note potential pitfalls. I got introduced to some really interesting historical figures - and have a whole lot more books to read!
Anything by Richard Foster is worth reading. Lots of interesting mini biographies in here and to use a well-worn review cliche: the 26-page summary of Church History in the Appendices is worth the price of the book alone. Would give it 4 1/2 stars if the option was there.
Chris Vaughan
Richard Foster has the unusual gift of taking difficult-to-understand spiritual principles and bringing them within our grasp. His ecumenical vision is focused on unity and love and takes us to a "source" that is both comforting and foundational to faith.
Danny Bennett
One of the best books I've read at seminary. Goes through six traditions of Christianity explaining what's valuable about them and what problems the traditions typically run into. Foster writes in a very simple, yet profound way.
Mar 10, 2008 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves their denomination (or non-denomination)
I think this books gives great perspective to the differing expressions of Christ's body over the generations, focusing on how we all need each other and are actually potentially DANGEROUS on our own.
Fred Morris
Feb 24, 2009 Fred Morris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fred Morris by: George Ackron
Shelves: christian
Recommended to me as a starting point to develop in charismatic and incarnational dimensions.

For the 6 dimensions, go to and look at "a balanced spiritual life."
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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 Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines

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