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A Short Guide to Spiritual Formation

Finding Life in Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and Community

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In a society always seeking the new and novel, Christians can become more grounded and mature through a retrieval of our common tradition. Alex Sosler sets forth the "transcendentals" of truth, goodness, and beauty--along with community--to help readers follow the way of Jesus.

Weaving together church history, theology, and devotional practice, Sosler offers a holistic introduction to spiritual formation, encompassing biblical truth, the pursuit of the good life, the contemplation of God, and communal belonging. Each section includes a biblical and historical precedent for the tradition and highlights an exemplar from church history: Augustine on truth, Dorothy Day on goodness, Teresa of Ávila on beauty, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer on church commitment and community.

This accessible book provides avenues for a broader and deeper spirituality that can shape the complexity of our souls. It is ideal for undergraduate students and as a formation primer for church adult education classes, classical schools, and homeschooling communities.

Foreword by Russell Moore
Part 1: Truth: The Theological Life
1. The Centrality of Biblical Truth: God Speaks
2. The Story-Shaped Life: From a Devotional Faith to a Deep Faith
3. Saint Augustine: Faith Seeking Understanding
Part 2: Goodness: The Virtuous Life
4. In Pursuit of the Good Life: Righteousness without Self-Righteousness
5. How Do We Become Virtuous? The Power of Habit
6. Dorothy Day: We Must Love One Another or Die
Part 3: Beauty: The Contemplative Life
7. The Beatific Vision: Becoming What You Behold
8. The Road to Transformation and Union: Attention, Contemplation, and Detachment
9. Teresa of Ávila: Exploring the Interior Castle
Part 4: The United Life: Living in Community
10. Belonging Together: Longing for Community
11. The Web of Existence: Cosmic Connections
12. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Neighbor Love and Life Together


"Spiritual formation with substance and depth! Alex Sosler gives a thick account of Christian growth in holiness and wholeness shaped by a biblical-theological-ecclesial vision of truth, goodness, beauty, and community. Anyone who's sung the Augustinian cri de coeur of Bono's 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for' but found the modern spiritual formation literature too light and fluffy will be glad for this winsome retrieval of classical theology in service to a practice of discipleship that can take shape in real communities. This is one to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest and then share with another pilgrim on the way of the restless heart."

Alex Fogleman, assistant research professor of theology, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University; director, Catechesis Institute; author of Knowledge, Faith, and Early Christian Initiation

"A Short Guide to Spiritual Formation is a true retrieval, rooting Christian practice in the wider Christian tradition while remaining attentive to the needs and questions of the present moment. This fresh account of Christian spiritual formation will captivate students and seekers while reminding seasoned leaders of the many gifts that the Christian tradition offers to our weary souls."

Kaitlyn Schiess, author of The Ballot and the Bible: How Scripture Has Been Used and Abused in American Politics and Where We Go from Here

"This book will be a great help to anyone interested in personal and corporate spiritual formation. The rich traditions of the church are beneficial for modern-day disciples. It is important to know our spiritual history and some of the key foundations that Christian faith rests upon. Alex Sosler does a masterful job of describing these historical, theological, and spiritual foundations, and in doing so he invites the reader into a deeper relationship with God. This text is well worth your time."

Donald Shepson, professor of Bible and ministry, Grove City College

"Alex Sosler provides readers with a theological, historical, contemplative, and applicable approach to living life from a formative perspective. He is passionate about the well-being of God's creation and implementing practices designed to educate, empower, and equip the learner. Sosler takes his desire for 'roots and tradition' and writes about what he considers more crucial to Christianity than 'just the way the pastor did it.'"

Barbara L. Peacock, Peacock Soul Care

"[This] book doesn't hit us with abstractions but with specific, concrete counsel on how to recognize and to pursue truth, goodness, beauty, and community. You will not leave this short book burdened down with a sense of all the things you can't ever seem to do. You'll instead start to see the possibility of how you, in your own life, can seek holiness and formation."

Russell Moore (from the foreword)

The Author

  1. Alex Sosler

    Alex Sosler

    Alex Sosler (EdD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of Bible and ministry at Montreat College and assisting priest at Redeemer Anglican Church in Asheville, North Carolina. He is the author of Learning to Love: Christian...

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