Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and Mothers

NavPress. Sept. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781641584517. pap. $16.99. REL
Some evangelicals lament that much of what passes for Christianity is a baptized secular stand-in. While often pointing at more liberal branches, many evangelicals offer the same critique of themselves. Arndt (All Flame), a pastor at the Colorado Springs nondenominational charismatic evangelical megachurch New Life, observes that this appropriation of the sacred is perennial. He writes that by the early fourth century, a movement of small desert communities attempted to recover the essence of Christianity that was being overshadowed by a larger society. Drawing parallels between his own life, ministry, and stories of these desert saints, Arndt invites readers to share in the wisdom of a tradition where solitude and community were held in equal measure, where simplicity was esteemed, and where a deep spirituality and generosity to all people fed each other. Finding that his fellow believers are far more interested in their own prerogatives than in enabling the people who’ve been deprived of theirs, he calls on evangelicals to embrace this last virtue.
VERDICT Although there are not enough anecdotes from desert mothers and fathers to fully appreciate them, Arndt’s book (citing Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic sources) succeeds in showing that they were not some curious aberration but a genuine response that has repeated itself throughout Church history.
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