December 6, 2007
Whitworth Theology Professor's New Book Offers 'Compelling History of Spirituality'
In A.D. 165, two men named Carpus and Papylus stood before Rome's proconsul of Pergamum, charged with the crime of being Christians. Not even torture could make them deny Christ, so they were burned alive. This centuries-old narrative is one of many recounted in the latest book by Gerald Sittser, professor of theology at Whitworth University. The result of nearly 15 years of study and research, Sittser's book, Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries (InterVarsity Press), explores the practices and stories of Christian believers throughout history to discover how the old ways of sacrifice, simplicity and community, among others, can inform and enrich present-day spirituality.
A starred review from Publishers Weekly states that Water from a Deep Well "…offers a compelling history of spirituality. While many such histories focus on the early martyrs of the faith and medieval mystics, Sittser's singular study demonstrates that contemporary Christians drink from a deep well of spiritual practices as they become part of the cloud of witnesses to the faith."
Water from a Deep Well opens with a foreword by Eugene H. Peterson, professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, in Vancouver, B.C., and features 11 chapters in which Sittser depicts periods in the history of spirituality according to themes such as witness, belonging, struggle and union. Publishers Weekly states the book is unique from earlier histories of spirituality because it devotes chapters to the spirituality of evangelicals (conversion) and the spirituality of pioneer missionaries (risk). Each chapter concludes with exercises that guide readers on melding spiritual practices from the past with contemporary observance. The book also includes discussion questions and an annotated reading list.
"What Gerald Sittser gives us is not a guidebook . . . but something that reads more like an extended declaration of love," says Iain Torrance, president of Princeton Theological Seminary and former moderator of the Church of Scotland. "A history of Christian spirituality it may be, but such spirituality is understood less as a benefit to be acquired neutrally through detachment than a matter of being enthralled and enticed by the beauty which is Christ. Each chapter is instructive and informed, and Gerald Sittser provides the kind of clarity and simplicity which only grows out of deep knowledge."
Water from a Deep Well is available at the Whitworth bookstore, as well as at major booksellers including Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.
Sittser has taught at Whitworth since 1989 and is director of the Whitworth Certification for Ministry Program. He specializes in the history of Christianity and American religion; his most popular courses are Introduction to the Christian Faith and Christian Spirituality. He holds a Ph.D. in the history of Christianity from the University of Chicago, an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Hope College.
In addition to Water from a Deep Well, Sittser is the author of When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayer (2003, Zondervan), which won a 2005 Gold Medallion Book Award. Given by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, the award recognizes Christian books of the highest quality based on excellence in content, literary quality, design and significance of contribution.
Sittser is also the author of A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss (1996, Zondervan), which is in its 19th paperback edition and has sold more than 250,000 copies. The book has been translated into more than a dozen languages and was recently released in a new edition that includes an epilogue and study questions. The book is used by small groups, book clubs, churches and synagogues, hospice chapters, seminaries, medical schools, and in college courses.
Other books by Sittser include The Will of God as a Way of Life (2000, Zondervan), which was recently released in a new edition; A Cautious Patriotism: The American Churches and the Second World War (1997, University of North Carolina Press); Loving across Our Differences(1994, Intervarsity Press), and The Adventure (1985, InterVarsity Press).
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Gerald Sittser, professor of theology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.