Freedom of Simplicity – Book Review

Originally posted on April 1, 2008

Foster, R. (1981). Freedom of Simplicity. San Francisco: Harper. Freedom of Simplicity was published in 1981, and, I have read it, now, three times. It is Foster who, twenty some years ago, began me in the transition to simplicity and it is simplicity that continues to be a tension and a struggle as I live the daily walk of a disciple. I must say that I see progress in the transition to simplicity, and I absolutely agree that simplicity is not the goal in itself, rather, it is what flows from an obedient core that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit and liberated by Jesus. Simplicity happens as the Spirit transforms. One can begin to live simply out of obedience but one does not experience the freedom of simplicity until the core experiences the transformation of the Spirit. The casual reader could look at the title and think that one has one more book about getting rid of clutter; and, that would be true. Foster does speak about getting rid of clutter but he uses a much broader definition. Foster helps us to understand that God calls God’s people to a life of trust and a recognition that things, titles, degrees, etc. are helpful but not the essence of life. In fact, these “things” can get in the way of discipleship and make life very complicated. Foster outlines the foundations of simplicity with a walk through the Hebrew/Christian Scriptures and then spends a great deal of time unpacking what these foundations may look like when lived out in the context of this culture. Foster addresses the core of the application of Scriptural teaching in the chapter called: Inward Simplicity, The Divine Center. In this chapter, Foster lays out the premise of living out of the center and how this type of life leads to greater simplicity. He tells a powerful story of his own life transition but offers these words to us all, regardless of our journey:

“What will set us free from this bondage to ever spiraling demands that are placed upon us? The answer is found in the grace of Christian simplicity. This virtue, once worked into our lives, will unify the demands of our life. It will prune and trim gently and in the right places. It brings a liberty of soul that eliminates constant reversions to ourselves.”

Re-reading Freedom of Simplicity has re-energized me toward a life of greater simplicity.

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