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A Testament of Devotion

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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,198 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Since its first publication in 1941, A Testament of Devotion, by the renowned Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly, has been universally embraced as a truly enduring spiritual classic. Plainspoken and deeply inspirational, it gathers together five compelling essays that urge us to center our lives on God's presence, to find quiet and stillness within modern life, and to discover th ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 2nd 1996 by HarperOne (first published 1941)
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Scott Jeffries
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't know what to expect when I first opened Thomas Kelly's A Testament of Devotion. I knew the book was listed among the best in Christian spirituality but I didn't know anything about the book.

I didn't know that Kelly was a Quaker and that the essays within the book were taken from talks that he gave. I didn't know how much my favorite Christian writer, Dallas Willard, was influenced by Kelly.

I also didn't know that I would need to read it more than once to fully appreciate it. The first t
...more
Elizabeth Andrew
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Friends recommended this book when they heard my 2012 New Year's resolution was to not be overwhelmed by life. A good dose of Quakerism is a nice antidote. I can't say Thomas Kelly led me to calm and simplicity, but he did offer me understanding: "For, except for spells of sickness in the family and when the children are small, when terrific pressure comes upon us, we find time for what we really want to do." With a small child, yes, living a focused life of service can be hard.

While his languag
...more
Nathan
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A spiritual classic worthy of your best attention. One I plan to read again.
David Woods
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to David by: Jeramy Williams
This is the third or fourth Quaker author I have read that I have really enjoyed. Foster, Trueblood, now Kelly. Kelly actually took over a post for D. Elton Trueblood at Haverford College! I loved Trueblood's book "New Man for Our Time". Back to this book, it was a great collection of Kelly's writings on simply living in the Spirit, living in the presence of God, a lot in the vein of Brother Lawrence.

There is a 25 page biography written by a friend and colleague at the end of the book that I wo
...more
Rhiannon Grant
A Quaker classic for a reason, this contains lots of clear articulations of things Quakers often say - enough that it can be hard to pick out what is uniquely Kelly about it other than the intensity with which he experienced the spiritual processes he describes. His close relationships to some other Quakers of the period, especially Jones and Steere, and to influential non-Quaker sources (including Whitehead, William James, and some contact with Japanese and Indian philosophy), are visible as we ...more
Jeremy
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-life
This book is the perfect follow-up to Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God. While we learn from Brother Lawrence that an abiding presence with God is possible, we learn from Kelly how to acquire it, what it costs, and what fruit will be born from it.

This is a very quick read, but should be savored and re-read.
Dave Peterson
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At my high school graduation, some friend or relative (I don't know who) gave me a copy of "A Testament Of Devotion" by Thomas Kelly. I read this and was touched by the spirituality of the writing. He wrote of "The Light Within":

"Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny,
...more
Silas Bergen
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a healing joy to read, is this book. I'll let is speak for itself:

Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center…Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.
booklady
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005, spiritual, religion
Deceptively simple and wise book--and easy and quick read. Read it the year I did the Spiritual Classics.
Dwayne A Milley
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read this book a couple of times now. And I’ll read it again. Published in 1941, its message is truer today than it was 80 years ago.
Nathan Albright
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge2017
I must admit that I am not all that familiar with Quaker spirituality except for my criticism of its inveterate pacifism and pietism which for various reasons has formed an important influence on the Church of God.  This book is a well-regarded example of an ecumenical and mystical approach to Christianity that is particularly popular in our hectic age [1].  I would not say that this is a bad book, exactly, more like it is a book that is not easy to understand or relate to.  The author is a Quak ...more
Ian
Thomas Kelly was a Quaker who lived through WW1 and died during the course of WW2. This small book provides an insight into how to live a life devoted to Christ. It's a challenging read because it's often mystical in its rendering. For example, in the chapter "The Light Within" he outlines how to walk through one's day conscious of the 'inner light' within, that being Christ. He takes a few pages to actually outline how one does this - essentially he states that it's meditating (verbally or in o ...more
Bryan
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply a phenomenon that every believer ought to read. One of the deepest and most moving books I've ever read. The brevity of the book adds to its power. The only drawback I can think of is when it frequently seems to promote the Quaker way, almost as though they only have promoted the primacy of centering the inner life upon the Presence of God. In a book with such a potent universal message and applicability, it was a bit of a distraction and possibly even a bit of an error. But ...more
Judith
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book by a Quaker author. Clearly a person of deep faith. I found the ending chapters of the book most meaningful. It addresses how to balance a new kingdom reality in the current Earthly kingdom.

Just one of many jewels from the book:
"The hard-lined face of a money-bitten financier is as deeply touching to the tendered soul as are the burnt-out eyes of miner's children, remote and unseen victims of his so-called success. There is a sense in which, in this terrible tenderness, we become
...more
Bettie
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Excellent book by a Quaker author. Clearly a person of deep faith. I found the ending chapters of the book most meaningful. It addresses how to balance a new kingdom reality in the current Earthly kingdom.

Just one of many jewels from the book:
"The hard-lined face of a money-bitten financier is as deeply touching to the tendered soul as are the burnt-out eyes of miner's children, remote and unseen victims of his so-called success. There is a sense in which, in this terrible tenderness, we become
...more
Glen
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A warm and penetrating work that depicts a life centered on God in the fullest meaning. Kelly was a Quaker who exemplified the life of a spiritual pilgrim. His voice is a combination of pastoral gentleness and intellectual vigor. The simplicity of thought comes from a soul that thought deeply about the important matters of life.

The book is compact which I often find to be the case with many spiritual classics. It is a compilation of Kelly's most illuminating writings and serves as a treasure tr
...more
Gideon Yutzy
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I recommend reading about 5 pages per morning as it's very deep. Oh, and some of it will seem esoteric at first but just go with it. You can pretty much take what he says to the bank. It turns out Kelly had a significant influence on his fellow Quaker Richard Foster and his book, Celebration of the Disciplines. It adds up, if you read both books. One of the main takeaways is, when you practice religion correctly, it's like finding wings; when you practice it incorrectly, it's like entering a bog ...more
Jacque Kelnhofer
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think I might recommend reading the last biographical bit of this book before digging into the meat of the book. Heavily reminiscent of the material presented by Brother Lawrence in "In the Presence of God," Kelly offers some additional consideration to the practicality of living the internal experience with God simultaneously with the external, typically secular, obligations. One would do well to have read Brother Lawrence's work before this for a more comprehensive understanding of Kelly's p ...more
Bradley
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love(d) this book. It’s a very short and quick read, though the grammar is old English so you’ll have to reread quite a bit to pick up what’s he is trying to say. It has encouraged me tremendously to know that the struggle of finding time for devotion was the same for those in the 1940s as it is for us today with more technology. It’s not an issue of the amount of time we have but the amount of desire we have to spend the time with our Heavenly Father. It’s a convicting book but enc ...more
Gloriamarie
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This timely book should be a MUST READ for anyone who claims to be a Christian. Wonderful book. Do yourself a favor and read it. No wonder this is considered a classic. I am Episcopalian and I loved it. Loving Jesus and responding to the Holy Spirit are the most important things anyone can ever do.
Jennifer
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Those who love "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence (which I do) will appreciate this book. Thomas Kelly was a Quaker academician who in his walk to as a Christian had a spiritual experience that left him with this sense of closeness to God. This book is a compilation of five essays that he wrote with his spiritual insight. Definitely a book I will read again.
Grace
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has contributed as much as any book ever has to my conception of God as near and accessible. It is nourishment for the soul who longs to stay in constant communion with the Trinity. Kelly's words strike a chord deep within my heart. I am so thankful for this book!
Lynda
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kelly’s writings and essays give one much to contemplate regarding the Light within, our response to that Center and the world. Published after his death in 1941, the concepts continue to speak to my condition today.
Sydney
Jun 08, 2020 added it
I so appreciate the Quaker tradition's commitment to both the contemplative and social justice traditions. Kelly writes a fantastic introductory volume on the value of a life centered in the Presence of Christ.
Elise
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This classic spoke gently to my soul and reawakened the desire for such sweet intimacy with the divine Center. So, so good. And I appreciated the chance to experience a Quaker perspective.
Chris Halverson
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish Kelly had lived longer, he is a quite thoughtful man.
Ben Yosua-davis
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pure Fire.
Stinger
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a book that I might appreciate more at a future date. It was a bit too heavy on the mystical side for my current taste and need. It was on a Renovare recommended reading list.
Betty Fridena
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good reading for learning about and improving upon silent workship.
Kenny Innes
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A grounding text for exploration in spiritual formation and the life turned to God at all times.
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Week 5 - Question 1 1 8 Jul 22, 2013 06:23AM  

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Thomas Raymond Kelly (1893-January 17, 1941) was an American Quaker educator. He taught and wrote on the subject of mysticism. His books are widely read, especially by people interested in spirituality.

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“Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center…Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.” 7 likes
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