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Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,342 ratings  ·  166 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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Brice Karickhoff
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
An awesome book about the spiritual practice of simplicity. Oh man we need this now!! My favorite aspect of this book, which was also my biggest takeaway, was Foster’s discussion of how broadly simplicity can impact our lives. It’s easy for me to see the spiritual value in limiting consumption to care for the poor - that is the obvious way I feel many are called to practice simplicity. However, I have so much to learn about simplicity of mind and simplicity of speech! Foster discusses these matt ...more
Jacob Aitken
Mar 21, 2015 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
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I picked this up after a couple friends recommended it. I really enjoyed most of the book--especially the winsome approach that Foster has through most of the book. "Freedom of Simplicity" is living in full obedience to Christ through all of life. "Christian simplicity lives in harmony with the ordered complexity of life." This simplicity is "both a grace and a discipline."

Rather than living according to the rules of the world, the Christian lives according to the way Christ calls us to--in rad
Jan 31, 2012 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 rig ...more
Matt De Kam
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about living a simple life. Everyone living in western culture should consider these ideas.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2018
A thorough look at the Christian discipline of Simplicity. Got a lot out of this book: simplicity is complex. Will need to re-read again at some point.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some favorite passages (for my records):

"Perhaps one more example of paradoxical tension will be sufficient to emphasize the fact that our journey into simplicity will be as intricate, varied, and rich as human personality itself. I refer to the attractive ability to be single-hearted and at the same time sensitive to the tough, complex issues of life. It is a strange combination and quite difficult to explain, though quite easy to recognize. It produces focus without dogmatism, obedience withou
May 07, 2007 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 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 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
Tony Villatoro
Mar 31, 2015 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
Jacob Yates
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are also many areas of modern life that can be simplified but I think Foster sums it up well by continuously bringing each area of life back to having the kingdom of God as a priority, and when that is the case our thoughts, speech, spending and commitments will all be unified around one theme.

I’ve always believed a big reason for Christians to live below their means is to be able to give to people in need/missions/just be generous in general, but a thought I had while reading Foster was t
Sheryl M. Baker
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked Freedom of Simplicity because it made me think and reconsider the way I live. Richard Foster has a way of helping the reader focus not only on our personal lives and living simply, but also looking at churches, communities, businesses, and our world. He shows us what that would look like if everyone would choose to live in harmony with one another. One of the parts I like best was his study of the saints who lived simplistic lives and what their lifestyles looked like. I have come away w ...more
Brooks Lemmon
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top10
This book was phenomenal! When I read the chapter on simplicity in Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline I knew I wanted to hear more of what he had to say. This book is an expansion of that single chapter.

Foster gave a great old and new testament account of simplicity at the beginning of the book to give biblical foundation. Oftentimes simplicity is a discipline that can be taken out of the Christian context and warped into legalistic or idolic. He then gives in depth descriptions of
Austin Spence
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, 2020
Truly went above and beyond my expectations. Taking a discipline that is a bit broader than what may go into our mixing bowl of practices, and showing how each are effected by it was very precise and detailed. Foster provides a fantastic foundation for the theological aspects of simplicity before gravitating towards a very astute worldview of the practicality of simplicity. Foster proves that it isn’t a very coveted thing to live simply for Christ, our trendy minimalist culture would get rocked ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book takes us on a retreat to the world of Christian simplicity, where careful and considerate decisions are to be made about our lifestyle, habits and behaviour. The values of Christian simplicity as presented by Richard Foster seems to be in line with the current zero waste initiative as well as the sustainable development goals. Considering that it was first published in 1981, these ideas could have been a novelty back then. The concept of simplicity as put forth in the book does not unde ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Richard Foster's books are always refreshingly different due to the breadth of his knowledge of church history and his understanding of how biblical theology in all its forms dovetails with apologetics of engagement with the world around us. This book emphasises that true simplicity of heart and faith is not naive but effective in bringing about change at a personal, corporate and world level. It challenges head-on the attitude that you can revolutionise human behaviour by actions that are not g ...more
Norman Falk
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
(3.5) Overall a thought provoking read on the important topic. However, a few points were lost due to uninformed opinions on topics relating to geopolitics and national (aka global) security.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I am currently reading this though I have probably already read it due tom my starting midway and then restarting at the beginning. few of my friends have criticized this book based on the Author's background and while I do not agree with everything Foster says and do wish he had a more academic argument for his position nevertheless I find the book challenging. ...more
Diana Glyer
Aug 19, 2014 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. ...more
Dec 04, 2008 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.
Will Waller
Simply put, this is a classic. It belongs on everyone’s shelf because it speaks to the feverishness by which we live our lives and the antidotes to that way of being. Simply put, simplicity.

I will show so areas that were especially helpful to me. But the most helpful thing for you to do is to put away your device right now and buy this dang book.

Chapter 3 - Jesus sought from the very beginning of his ministry to show that he came to be with and serve the poor. To “set at liberty those who are
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book since I was in college (circa 15 years ago), tried to read it three different times and never got past page 3, and finally this fourth time I had enough get-up-and-go to momentum the shit out of it.

Foster never specifically defines "simplicity." One can't really without putting rules on it, which he is very emphatic to say aren't necessarily rules to be followed like a checklist or a law. The things he discusses are important but take different forms for different people. Yet
Will N.
Mar 01, 2021 rated it liked it
I think Foster and I simply don't gel well as an author/reader combo. I find his writing meandering and unfocused and it has a tendency to wander away from the central premise. I feel like there are some great ideas here, but none that were fully developed. I realize the fault may well be my own, but I do not follow him well in this one.
My central objection is he calls for a simplicity that is not simple but rather complex and that ultimately no individual is completely responsible for, yet he s
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Foster's care for his reader and their growth is evident in the way he approaches his subject and his books. Freedom of Simplicity is an excellent example of his ability to explain a subject, its history and relevance, all the while taking the time and space to lay a groundwork for application in many areas of life. He does an excellent job at both. His application is built to stretch and guide his reader toward further understanding and a true living out of simplicity.

Dividing the book into Th
Rebecca Mariana Bengtsson
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Foster advocates for building a simple inner spiritual life that manifests itself in a minimal and thoughtful lifestyle to help build a better church and a better world for everyone. He uses important figures in chruch history, as well as the Bible and personal experience, to underline and strengthen his position. Simpleness rooted in God has worked before, so why not now? Maybe especially now? This book reminded me of why I am a Christian and made me fall in love with God and his heart for huma ...more
Alan Geygan
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This is one of those books you wish you hadn’t read. It challenges you in many ways about the call of Jesus. We’re not called to a life of constant consumerism and wealth, but a life that singularly follows God and is focused only on things that help in that pursuit.

The book progresses through the ways this is called for in Scripture to then showing the ways we practice this both inwardly and outwardly as well as within the church. Although clearly written form a biblical foundation, this book i
Jason Kolar
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-books
The Cost of simplicity is great, but the cost of duplicity is greater.

This is book is a cry for Christians to stop being consumed with the world, and be consumed with our Lord. This book was incredibly challenging for me, and loved how he didn't back away from his beliefs. He covers a lot of different aspect of how simplicity of life can change you, and at times could be daunting.

But he brings it back with this powerful quote at the end that I think raps up the vision of why Simplicity matters i
Charlie Lebby
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
I love the way Foster writes. Direct, yet so empathic to the "ragamuffin" human condition.

One of my favorite paragraphs was in the epilogue:

"The joyful paradox in all of this is that while simplicity is complex, it is also simple. In the final analysis we are not the ones who have to untangle all of the intricacies of our complex world. There are not many things we have to keep in mind-in fact only one: to be attentive to the voice of the true shepherd. There are not many decisions to
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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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“Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.

When we become quiet enough to let go of people, we learn compassion for them.”
“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.” 16 likes
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