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Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  326 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
In Rome in A.D. 165, two men named Carpus and Papylus stood before the proconsul of Pergamum, charged with the crime of being Christians. Not even torture could make them deny Christ, so they were burned alive. Is my faithfulness as strong? In the fifth century, Melania the Younger and her husband, Pinian, distributed their enormous wealth to the poor and intentionally pra ...more
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published November 7th 2007 by IVP Books (first published 2007)
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Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent, highly readable, introduction to the history of Christian Spirituality. Gerald Sittser surveys the best contributions that Christians have made in living out their faith over the centuries since Jesus walked the earth. Chapters are arranged chronologically. Each one focuses on the dominant expression of faith during a particular period of history, drawing from the lives of well selected representatives, and ends with a very good discussion of how present day Christians may ...more
Rheta Thola
Definitely an interesting read. Sittser does a good job covering church history. The book is structured so that each period of church history has a specific theme or focus of spirituality. He then pulls in different writings and stories that support that theme. It is a cross between a historical scholarly book and a topical study. I am not sure if I liked that mix, but I did enjoy the topical points that were made as things that I often never thought of before. The book includes "practices" that ...more
Dennis Henn
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
An overview of the expression of faith Christianity has assumed the past two thousand years. Very accessible to all readers, Siitser includes discussion questions, Scripture and projects to further our experience in Christian spirituality. Though he acknowledges the weaknesses inherent in each phase of Christianity, his goal is to show the strengths and, thereby, broaden our receptivity to the various streams offered through the Desert Fathers, the monastics, the evangelicals, the Mystics, the R ...more
Currently reading and let me Maria take a peek at the book. She liked it so much that she stole it.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book gives a history of Christian Spirituality and how it changed through the ages and the needs of the church and it's people. Sittser calls the current church to examine these practices and the motives behind them and discover ways to use them today.
Jennifer Webster
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ will be amazed to see they is so much more we can learn from church history. A valuable tool to challenge you to think deeply and grow sincerely.
Rob Steinbach
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The combination of church history and spirituality was thoroughly intellectually and soul engaging. Gerald Sittser is a gifted writer and scholar yet down to earth and accessible in his style. Every chapter was challenging and well done.
Adele Calhoun
Feb 25, 2008 rated it liked it
It’s not uncommon for churches to spend a lot of time strategizing for the future. Books with the latest in ministry ideas and the newest trends are de rigueur. Leaving the old behind, leaders encourage new initiatives and “new wine skins. The emphasis on “newness” is understandable. We live in a world that seems to come up with a new life saving or life changing invention on a weekly basis. The greeting “What’s new?” captures the mood of both the culture and the church. But what about “What’s o ...more
Becky Giovagnoni
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I felt like I was reading about my ancestors. Fascinating and informative.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
An overview of different manifestations of Christian spirituality in a positive vain. A reminder that nothing is 100% good but that does not mean that good things didn't come out of it.
Jason Kanz
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Water From a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality From Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries (2007, IVP) by Gerald Sittser was an excellent book, but perhaps a bit difficult to classify. It is part church history, part Christian spirituality, and part practical living. In engaging prose, Sittser explores the history of Christianity, stopping along the way to reflect on what lessons we have learned from those who have gone before. He effectively shows different movements over the history of the churc ...more
Andy Nichols
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short biographies of Christians through the ages. An interesting an helpful approach. I especially appreciate what Sittser says about icons.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, history
Really enoyable - a mix of history and theology and a really practical examination of a range of Christian traditions, taking pains with real stories to reveal how these voices and traditions of the past can inform our faith and change our lives today.
Matthew Green
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
For those who aren’t terribly familiar with much of Christian history or those who aren’t terribly familiar with various expressions of Christian spirituality, it isn’t a bad place to start. Sittser does an excellent job of writing in a very easy style that captures the attention and provides a good summary of his ideas without getting bogged down in unnecessary details or technical language and concepts. His inclusion of stories of various Chrisitans who, in his mind, exemplify the particular m ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A well written history of Christianity from different perspectives. Sittser writes with perception, compassion, knowledge, and skill.

This book resonates with purpose, profundity, and love. I am so thankful to Gerald Sittser for writing it! It was an awesome journey through the interweaving history of the Christian tradition. In the past I have had a tendency to recognize conflict and discordances of the various approaches to Christianity, though I never truly took the time to understand them. By
Brenda Funk
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It took me a little while to really get into reading this book (it was a Christmas gift), but I grew to appreciate it deeply as I continued reading through it. In a way it reads like a church history book, but it is put together, not in a linear way, but organized by the various movements that have characterized Christianity through the centuries:
"The martyrs call us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and the desert saints to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. The early church challenges u
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Sittser presents church history from the standpoint of spiritual practices and movements through the ages. For instance, the first period of church history is labeled Witness, for in the days of the early church there were martyrs aplenty, and their witness caused Christianity to spread rapidly and expansively. Each subsequent era gets a title, and Mr. Sittser tells stories of characters from that age to illustrate the defining characteristics of the church at that time. In this way, the his ...more
Ryan Linkous
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the second time I've read this book and I'm now sure that I really like this book by Gerald Sittser. Though there can be a few inaccuracies, he's done his research. This book is a good combination of church history and spirituality. Could you call it a history of Christian spirituality? Maybe/maybe not. However, he examines different traditions throughout the church from an evangelical perspective and tries to find something valuable in it for today. Some of my favorite chapters are the ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This history of spirituality is a must read for students of the Bible. its concise, well organized and readable. I was engaged from the very beginning. The author organized a vast amount of information and history in to meaningful sections. For lay people this is should be required reading to understand the history of Christianity in various time segments. The Bibliography alone will keep the rest of us reading quality Christian literature for a very long time. Every serious Bible student, lay B ...more
Pete Foley
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book as an excellent overview of the early Church, its evolution over the centuries, and the earliest Christian mystics. Sittser does an excellent job of conveying his passion for Christian life while conveying the deep spirituality of the earliest Christians...many of whom were martyred for their faith. The book re-energizes and challenges the reader to return to the faith of earlier centuries, while also accurately depicting the shortcomings of the Church - be it through ...more
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book delves into the history of the Church for inspiration. It is a combination of history and biography, beginning with first-century martyrs all the way through modern missionaries. Although the volume is arranged topically, the topics are chosen so that they fit into a chronological scheme as well. The book is interesting, but I would have preferred it if the author had included more and/or longer passages from the writers that he reviews. I thought there was too much in the way of a rev ...more
Blake Chenoweth
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I find it difficult to describe this book to people. It is a book of Christian history, spiritual disciplines, Christian martyr and theologians biographies it is all a part of what makes this book engaging and also a read that takes some time. I love the way Sittser writes, it is possible however that maybe this book was a chapter or two too long.

A wonderful read for anybody interested in Christian spirituality and the practices of the saints throughout history. This book also has wonderful chal
Jesvin Jose
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars actually! Well written & engaging mini biographies of church fathers, mystics, monks, reformers & missionaries. Everyone may not agree with all the traditions represented in the book; nonetheless, these different traditions have a lot to teach us (warts and all), if only we are teachable! It is indeed fascinating to observe how God brings people to Him in Christ. These men and women of God drank deeply from the living water the Savior offers and they encourage us to do the same ...more
Oct 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I found out about this book through the radio program Family Life Today. The basic premise of the book is that we have something to learn from every generation/movement throughout the history of the Church. Going from the Early Church who teach us the value of community to the pioneer missionaries who show the value of taking risks, Gerald Sittser walks through many disciplines and virtues that the modern Church may have lost or undervalued.
Margaret D'Anieri
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: Adrian Doll
Shelves: spirituality
A wonderful, readable overview of Christian spirituality through history. Written from a reformed perspective, meaning that it includes evangelism as a spiritual movement. My quibbles are that he strays into conversion of non-Christian faithful in some places, and leaves some critique unspoken - although he covers for that in the epilogue, where he says he consciously chose to focus on the benefits of each of the spiritual movements he describes.
Joel Daniel Harris
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mdiv
Great overview of Christian faith and practice throughout history. Sittser strives to pull out best practices and highlight what was done well and, in so doing, remind us of how we ought to live and lifestyles we could choose to embrace. Excellent and inspiring. I should mention that this means that some of the faults of some of these periods of history aren't addressed, but that isn't the point of this book and Sittser is honest and humble in his presentation.
Adam Shaeffer
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book offers a clear and engaging history of Christian spirituality from the early days of the church through the Evangelical movement and pioneer missionaries of today. It is thoughtfully done and paints a fascinating picture of the different modes and seasons of Christian spirituality through the centuries. We have much to learn from the mothers and fathers of the faith and Sittser points us toward wisdom both ancient and modern in this wonderful history.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People interested in History not just for history's sake
This was a really great look at the highlights of different church traditions and what people can draw from them. It challenged me to live differently in a lot of ways. It's not just history for history's sake (which I like and would read), but it's history with a purpose: what can you glean from these traditions?

Brent Harris
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was a wonderful overview of the movements of Christian spirituality over the past 2000 years. It has great tact, insight and wonderful ideas about how to keep these alive in our contemporary setting. It is not an exhaustive overview of spirituality and does still suffer from a western bias despite having a whole chapter devoted to Eastern Orthodoxy.
Amy Young
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Amazing book. Amzazing book. Sittser helps Chirstian history and practices come alive as he is able to set them in context, provide illustrtations through biographies and make them accessible to us today. Each section he looks at and offers suggestions for how that could be practiced today. Great discussion questions at the end. AND I love an annotated reading list!
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history of Christian spirituality 1 2 Apr 12, 2015 10:35AM  
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