Gary Thomas – Sacred Pathways

Sacred Pathways Gary Thomas
Sacred Pathways: Nine Ways to Connect with God by Gary Thomas
Published by Zondervan on September 8, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Theology
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Sacred Pathways
 reveals nine distinct spiritual temperaments--and their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies--to help you improve your spiritual life and deepen your personal walk with God.
It's time to strip away the frustration of a one-size-fits-all spirituality and discover a path of worship that frees you to be you. Experienced spiritual directors, pastors, and church leaders recognize that all of us engage with God differently, and it's about time we do too.
In this updated and expanded edition of Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas details nine spiritual temperaments and--like the Enneagram and other tools do with personality--encourages you to investigate the ways you most naturally express yourself in your relationship with God. He encourages you to dig into the traits, strengths, and pitfalls in your devotional approach so you can eliminate the barriers that keep you locked into rigid methods of worship and praise.
Plus, as you begin to identify and understand your own temperament, you'll soon learn about the temperaments that aren't necessarily "you" but that may help you understand the spiritual tendencies of friends, family, and others around you.
Whatever temperament or blend of temperaments best describes you, rest assured it's not by accident. It's by the design of a Creator who knew what he was doing when he made you according to his own unique intentions. If your spiritual walk is not what you'd like it to be, you can change that, starting here. Sacred Pathways will show you the route you were made to travel, marked by growth and filled with the riches of a close walk with God.

If you understand the Church, then you know that it comes in many different forms. You have the ritual and tradition and see/smell/taste physicality of high church denominations like Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. You have the justice-oriented worship of Anabaptists and progressives. Or the enthusiastic worship of the Pentecostals and Charismatics. Your church experience differs wildly based on the type of church you walk into.

There can be a tendency in Christian circles to disparage the type of worship not common to one’s particular denomination, with the tendency to assume that these other groups are “doing it wrong.” We put up barriers where there should be none and elevate preference and tradition to the level of orthodoxy. In Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas teaches readers to break down those false walls and opens us up to a wider view of worship and connection with God.

No, this isn’t a book about ecumenism or pleas for us to all just get along. Sacred Pathways is a robust exploration of nine different types of worship and how each and every type can be used to grow one’s relationship with the Creator. Sacred Pathways is a transformative look at worship, transcending denominational boundaries and respectfully uplifting the sacred ways in which Christ-followers worship.

Thomas’s nine Sacred Pathways are:

  1. Naturalists: Loving God Outdoors
  2. Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
  3. Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
  4. Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
  5. Activists: Loving God through Confrontation
  6. Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
  7. Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
  8. Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration
  9. Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind

While I’d love to gush about what I learned from each of these chapters, we simply don’t have the space for me to give due diligence to each section. I appreciate the way in which Thomas objectively evaluates each pathway and gives personal examples of how he relates to each one, even those outside his natural proclivities. It shows that the believer doesn’t have to “pick a lane” or try to hit every pathway equally. Believers will have one or two areas that their faith background, tradition, or personality while lean towards, but can still pursue God in the other areas as well—and that we need not look down on those whose pursuit of God lies in a different form of worship.

Thomas also is clear about the potential downfalls of each type of worship. Traditionalists may serve God without really knowing him. Ascetics may overemphasize personal piety. Caregivers may become judgmental. Sacred Pathways is gentle in this criticism, always calling believers toward the proper expression of this worship.

I learned the most, I think, from the chapter on sensates. I’ve long thought that the rituals of incense, or the rituals of kneeling, signing, or touching a crucifix to be—well, I’ll be honest—a bit silly. Sacred Pathways  showed me how wrong I was and gently led me to repentance even as it showed me the benefits of those types of expressions. Sacred Pathways is a beautiful book. I only wish I’d read it sooner.