Book Review: Soul Shaper
Author: Keith Drury
Publisher: Wesleyan Publishing House
My first introduction to the writing of Keith Drury was January of 2005 with his book, Spiritual disciplines for Ordinary People. That book, and a few others like it, was responsible for setting me on a course that I continue, still today. I was recently made aware of a new book by Keith, titled Soul Shaper, and was very intrigued when I found out that it was a deeper study into the practice of over twenty spiritual exercises.
Book Description from the Publisher’s website:
Left to ourselves, we are pretty tough souls with rock-stiffened minds that we’ll never reform into anything resembling the new creation God designed us to be. But God has provided us the means to soften hard hearts. They are found both in his Word and through tried and true practices of the church: spiritual disciplines. God has given us meaningful, life-changing practices so our hearts and minds can yield, soften, and be miraculously shaped by his Spirit’s touch. Only then can we finally experience life the way it is meant to be.
Master teacher Keith Drury has taken the best from his two previous classics (Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People and With Unveiled Faces), and powerfully concentrated and updated it into this new and accessible book, offering the wisdom of ancient disciplines in simple, practical terms that today’s Christians can understand and apply.
There are several things about Soul Shaper that I think sets it apart from other books on the spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation. First, I appreciate the common and down-to-earth language used in writing the book. My Christian tradition is primarily evangelical and I am an ordained minister in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. While there is a resurgence of interest and growing popularity in the topic of spiritual formation-spiritual disciplines, much of the writing on the subject can be a little esoteric and ethereal at times. This is not a bad thing, but if you’re not used to the genre, it can be difficult and confusing to read. Keith Drury has been writing on this subject for over twenty-five years and doing so from the Wesleyan tradition in the Evangelical stream of Christianity. These details make this book, as most of the writing by Drury, very approachable and practical…definitively easy to understand. Second, with regard to the disciplines and exercises he writes of themselves, each is addressed with very concise and specific description and instruction. It is the rare teacher that I have read from, concerning spiritual exercises, that has written with such clarity and practical application.
Soul Shaper is a journey into the spiritual disciplines focusing the exercises into four categories. These are separated into Disciplines of Abstinence, Disciplines of Action, Disciplines of Relationship, and the Discipline of Response. Each category features a specific set of exercises by which to practice these soul-shaping disciplines of grace. The chapters are short, but packed with practicality and the wisdom of years from Drury’s experience as a teacher and a practitioner of spiritual exercises. His teaching is clear and his coaching is encouraging yet firm. In my extensive reading history and my very extensive personal collection of books on this topic, I have been greatly inspired by many writings and many authors. Soul Shaper is not only a book I feel I can recommend to almost anyone, it is also a book that will be easy for me to teach from. I am sure I will be carrying it with me for quick reference. The book can be used equally well for individuals or groups.
Big thanks to Wesleyan Publishing House and Keith Drury for excellent resources in the field of Christian spiritual formation.