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Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  2,150 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
The author of the bestselling celebration of discipline explores the great traditions of Christian spirituality and their role in spiritual renewal today.

In this landmark work, Foster examines the "streams of living water" –– the six dimensions of faith and practice that define Christian tradition. He lifts up the enduring character of each tradition and shows how a varie
Paperback, 424 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by HarperSanFrancisco (first published January 1st 1989)
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Jan 18, 2008 Janelle rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 30, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: holy-moly
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
Jul 31, 2015 Rone rated it liked it
Fosters book is wearisome to read and one is at times tempted to skip a page or two. But the basic values and truths of this book is beyond description. He ends his book with a lengthy historical background of the Roman Catholic Church as well as Protestantism which is good for all to have in their library. Yet I cannot really conclude which one of these he would award the prize for having most of the mentioned streams. In my opinion that does not matter for if I understand the conclusion of it ...more
Steve James
Jul 27, 2017 Steve James rated it really liked it
This was good in that it presented the idea of the particular traditions of the faith. Some were easier to understand than others but I found it useful. One complaint is he starts the book saying that God is bringing together the streams after years of their being isolated but he gives no evidence of it. We're to take it all on faith of his assertion. I would prefer that he pointed to specific instances where he was seeing it. But overall I thought it was a good book. I read it as part of a clas ...more
I've wanted to read this book since I was in high school and finally got around to listening to it this morning. Would like to take a look at it in print format to revisit specific sections in more detail.
Rachel Quinlan
Feb 03, 2017 Rachel Quinlan rated it it was amazing
Liked the examples from history, recent times and biblical - made it very real and easy to understand.
Gary Conachan
Feb 23, 2017 Gary Conachan rated it it was amazing
I'd heard about this book in college but didn't get the chance to read it until now. I have nothing but good things to say about it. I appreciate the extensive and much-needed attention Foster gives to each of the main, six streams of faith, both by a variety of examples from history (ancient and modern) and addressing each stream's strengths and potential pitfalls. Especially having grown up in evangelical churches, this book was extremely helpful in highlighting what might have been overdone a ...more
Mar 24, 2009 Penny rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing
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
Cynthia Symons
Feb 09, 2013 Cynthia Symons rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 01, 2012 Adam Parker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
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
Nathan Good
Jul 11, 2012 Nathan Good rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2013 Doug rated it really liked it
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
Sep 19, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it
Shelves: sp-curriculum
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
Aug 13, 2011 John added it
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
Apr 05, 2013 Jennifer Grosser rated it really liked it
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
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.
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
Jenn Raley
Feb 13, 2011 Jenn Raley rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
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
Mar 07, 2013 Romeo Pakasi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
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.

May 10, 2013 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-life
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.
Mar 20, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
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.
Connor Searle
Feb 13, 2015 Connor Searle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Vanessa Siemens
Jul 15, 2014 Vanessa Siemens rated it really liked it
A good resource with great accounts and examples of those who have been prominent in the different streams. It was slightly annoying how Foster tries to disguise the identity of the individual at the beginning of each chapter. Will definitely return to revisit some of the individuals and will continue to foster my awareness of how these six streams are made manifest in my life and the life of the church and whether or not we lean toward an extreme or seek balance.
Benton Cole
Oct 31, 2013 Benton Cole rated it really liked it
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.
Carrie F.
Nov 04, 2010 Carrie F. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
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.
Rachel Woodward
Jul 09, 2012 Rachel Woodward rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 11, 2012 Georgiana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
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!
Chris Vaughan
Jan 19, 2013 Chris Vaughan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: done-reading
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.
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Christian Goodrea...: Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster 1 7 Sep 28, 2016 11:14AM  
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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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