Monday, February 20, 2012

"Deep-Rooted in Christ" (Joshua Choonmin KANG)

TITLE: Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation
AUTHOR: Joshua Choonmin KANG
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2007, (176 pages).

Like what Richard Foster says, this book speaks into the heart. Not only that, it speaks simply, clearly, as well as with conviction and with the Spirit's power. This book is the Korean counterpart to Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. Translated into English from the original Korean edition, this book's wisdom is made available to a wider audience, namely the English speaking world. Though Foster writes from the Western perspective, Kang reflects from an Eastern perspective. Both however are united in the Christlikeness perspective. The author is a Korean-American, ministering in a Church in America. He is well schooled in the spirituality of the West, and also very connected with Asian culture.

Using 52 brief meditations on the Christian life, and how to grow more spiritually aware of God and people, Kang is a gentle mentor for all readers in at least 8 ways.

Firstly, Kang urges us to begin with emptying our ourselves in order to be filled with Christ. Secondly, in order to be rooted in Christ, one needs to rid the bad roots, and to direct growth with Christ as the foundation of spirituality. Thirdly, growth is cultivated in the attitude and atmosphere of grace. It needs to be initiated by God, leading to an increase of knowledge and understanding, and a sharpening of the vision of spiritual outlook in grace. Fourthly, the growth needs to continue via discipline and training of solitude, listening to God, prayer, self-denial, serving, and be schooled in the 'wilderness of the Holy Spirit,' which is essential to help us be more thankful and more humble. Fifthly, growth can only be maintained through adequate soul care. In this aspect, one learns to cultivate balance, tend the inner garden, and enable oneself to let our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings be harmonized. Sixthly, Kang leads us through the development of fruits as evidence of spiritual growth. Seventhly, Kang introduces an even higher goal of spirituality: Purity of heart. The goal of purity is Jesus. Finally, one's true identity is attained when one is transformed in Christ to become more like Jesus.

Kang helpfully summarizes the whole Christian life in seven ways:

  1. Choose the narrow way. (Matt 7:13-14)
  2. Always abide in Jesus. (John 15:5)
  3. Live a Spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18)
  4. Deny ourselves daily. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Be watchful, and be on guard against the wiles of the devil.
  6. Loving God means serving others.
  7. Be filled with God's Word, and be full for God by sharing God's Word.

While some of Kang's spirituality borders on the Platonic philosophy, especially in his idea of 'balance' of spirituality and the Word. He calls this 'balance' as most important in mature spirituality. I am not sure I can agree with him, as the Christian life is not necessarily balance. For example, do we love God with all our heart, or do we love God only with a somewhat 'balanced,' manner? There are times when God calls us to sacrifice, or to give up a substantial part of our life in order to attain Christ. Apart from this, I highly recommend this book for your reading and edification.  Written in brief meditations, you can easily read this book one chapter a day, and you can be done within 2 months.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


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