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Robert Webber: The Divine Embrace


Robert E. Webber, The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2006), 282 pages.

Robert Webber has written an effective teaching manual that has covered the essential factors of spiritual formation. With an eye towards the historical foundation of Christ-centered spirituality, he established the building blocks for the contemporary reader. Webber and his publisher have gratefully retained the pertinent citations and endnotes, which for the reader with little familiarity with the historic names and situations of the characters that he referred to is quite helpful. Webber’s organized style of writing efficiently and end of chapter summaries make the material easy to comprehend and great for group study.

The idea that Christ-centered spirituality is safely rooted in the history of the church is essential to Webber’s content. Step by step, and era by era, he walks the reader through the concepts that demonstrate the spirituality of the church. Spirituality must have an equal voice with the rationality of the church. He candidly expressed his Evangelical Protestant bias (even ignorance) against the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of the Church—and he leads the reader through his journey towards a greater awareness of the treasure that is contained within the history of the whole church. Further, he has made a proficient synthesis of the books from several current and popular authors on the subject of Christian spirituality.

Robert E. Webber (1933-2007).

Is it just one more book on spirituality? Yes and no. Yes, Webber championed the call for the church to embrace her historical spirituality. And no—he has advanced foundational spiritual disciplines toward a fresh perspective to challenge our American or Western perspective of spirituality. What would the Church look like if we all carried the Rule of St. Benedict in our pocket everyday? How might ecumenism be approached if we put genuine spirituality ahead of our preference of tradition and dogma? Webber’s synthesis of ancient (our common heritage) and contemporary (our various traditions) Christian resources are condensed here for the novice or mature seeker of genuine spirituality.

Reviewed by John R. Miller


Editor’s note: Robert E. Webber passed away on April 27, 2007.


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Category: Fall 2007, Living the Faith

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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