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Fasting: Fasting as Body Talk in the Christian Tradition (Ancient Practices) [Hardcover]

By Scot McKnight (Author) & Phyllis Tickle (Foreword by)
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Item description for Fasting: Fasting as Body Talk in the Christian Tradition (Ancient Practices) by Scot McKnight & Phyllis Tickle...

In this installment, McKnight reconnects the spiritual and the physical through the discipline of fasting. He gives scriptural accounts of fasting, along with practical wisdom on benefits and pitfalls, and information about when to fast, and what happens to one's body as a result.

Publishers Description

"Fasting is the body talking what the spirit yearns, what the soul longs for, and what the mind knows to be true."

-- Scot McKnight

Christianity has traditionally been at odds with the human body. At times in the history of the church, Christians have viewed the body and physical desires as the enemy. Now, Scot McKnight, best-selling author of "The Jesus Creed," reconnects the spiritual and the physical in the ancient discipline of fasting.

Inside You'll Find:

In-depth biblical precedents for the practice of fasting;How to fast effectively--and safely;Different methods of fasting as practiced in the Bible;Straight talk on pitfalls, such as cheating and motivation.Join McKnight as he explores the idea of "whole-body spirituality," in which fasting plays a central role. This ancient practice, he says, doesn't make sense to most of us until we have grasped the importance of the body for our spirituality, until we can view it as a spiritual response to a sacred moment. Fasting--simple, primitive, and ancient--still demonstrates a whole person's earnest need and hunger for the presence of God, just as it has in the lives of God's people throughout history.

The Ancient Practices

There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries . . . everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.6" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2009
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
Series  Ancient Practices  
ISBN  0849901081  
ISBN13  9780849901089  
UPC  023755026811  

Availability  0 units.

More About Scot McKnight & Phyllis Tickle

Scot McKnight Dennis R. Venema (PhD, University of British Columbia) is professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, and Fellow of Biology for the BioLogos Foundation. He writes and speaks regularly about the biological evidence for evolution.

Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker, is Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including Kingdom Conspiracy, The Jesus Creed, The King Jesus Gospel, and The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life. He is also a popular blogger (Jesus Creed).

Scot McKnight currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois.

Scot McKnight has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Biblical Guides
  2. Story of God Bible Commentaries
  3. Story of God Bible Commentary
  4. Studying the Historical Jesus

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Spiritual Growth > Spiritual Formation

Reviews - What do customers think about Fasting: The Ancient Practices?

Good answers to the "why" questions of fasting  Mar 22, 2010
Historically, the Christian spiritual discipline of fasting has been recognized by its unhealthy excesses. Stories of early ascetics starving themselves in an attempt to curry God's favor immediately come to mind. Horror stories of those excesses have caused the spiritual "baby to be thrown out with the bath water" in Western Evangelicalism over the past several generations. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the traditional spiritual disciplines, including fasting. With that renewed interest, a bevy of writings has been produced on the subject. Scot McKnight's book, Fasting, stands uniquely above most of those I have read. Most books I have read on fasting focus on using it as a way to get God to do what we want Him to do. In essence, they distill it into a form of divine manipulation--fasting is promoted as the best means to accomplish the ends we desire. In those writings, it is viewed as a kind of "super prayer." McKnight has a much different, and far more biblical, approach. Throughout the book, he teaches the idea that, "Fasting is not a technique we ply that makes things happen just because we ply it.... The heart of the deep Christian tradition about fasting is that a grievous sacred moment prompts the integrated person to fast. Sometimes the resolution comes about, and sometimes it doesn't."

While I am uncomfortable with much of the author's underlying ecumenism, his view of fasting is refreshing because it is biblical. Although his argument is not bolstered by detailed scriptural exposition (which would have been helpful), it is informed by an accurately informed biblical worldview. Fasting is not a tool with which to manipulate God. Fasting is a whole-body response by Christians who are experiencing grief over a particular situation. Particularly helpful are the author's treatment of dualism and the potential problems with fasting. This is not a "how-to" book on fasting and should not be the only book one reads on the subject, but it is a valuable resource to enable readers to have the right focus. While it is not designed to answer the "how" questions, it does a wonderful job answering the "why" questions. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is either wholly neglected or widely abused. This book will guard the reader against both unfortunate extremes.
A Helpful Resource on a Neglected Discipline  Feb 2, 2010
Spiritual disciplines? The formation of souls? Training exercises? In recent years there seems to have been a surge in emphasis on ancient practices and their role in Christ-like growth, and I believe this is a good thing.

I recently wrapped up Scot McKnight's Fasting, a volume in Thomas Nelson's Ancient Practices Series. I'll share a few brief thoughts about the book.

First, and perhaps most importantly, McKnight challenges the common presupposition that fasting is about obtaining results, and instead offers that the Bible and the Christian tradition teaches us rather that fasting is a natural, inevitable response to a grievous sacred moment. We do not fast to obtain something, but we fast in order to bring our bodies into contact with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He describes fasting as a movement from (A) the grievous sacred moment (death, sin, fear, threats, needs, sickness) to (B) fasting, and then finally to (C) response (life, forgiveness, safety, hope, answers, health). But again and again, through the book, McKnight offers his readers the constant reminder that fasting is not about what some will receive in choosing to fast, as though we could control God through the exercise of discipline, but that fasting is a healthy, human expression of embodied spirituality that properly orients us toward the Divine when we are faced with hardship.

McKnight's book is filled with numerous biblical and historical examples of how fasting has been utilized and understood. McKnight identifies how fasting is a proper response to sinfulness, is a helpful expression of solidarity with the poor and oppressed, commonly undertaken to express grief, and can be utilized to discipline the body. He warns against some of the common errors that can occur when one fasts, including hypocrisy, legalism, and meritoriousness. He also directly addresses some of the health related questions and concerns that surround fasting.

As someone who is trying to further develop an understanding of Christian spiritual disciplines both in order to teach and more faithfully practice, McKnight's book provided many helpful insights. I'd say it is worth checking out.
Very good, helpful addition to the practice of fasting  Jan 3, 2010
My full review is at [...]

Short version review: This is a very good book. I think the best of the three Ancient Practices books I have read. It is enough background and history to understand fasting while still being personal and relevant to fasting today.

The majority of the book was really about how not to fast (bad motivation, bad theology, bad health, etc.). I have read or started a few books on fasting in the last week or so and the main addition of this book was the focus on motivation. McKnight says that "fasting should always be the natural result to a grievous sacred moment." Something that draws us to fasting, not because of what we can learn or what we can get but something that causes us to fast because we don't have any other thing we can do.
An Eye-Opening Look at a Sometimes Disturbing Spiritual Practice: Fasting  Apr 29, 2009
"This is not a book for the cowardly." That's how Phyllis Tickle, the General Editor of the Ancient Practices Series, introduces Scot McKnight's startling new book on "Fasting." If it's done right, she says, the experience can be downright "disturbing."

Those are surprising words when talking about a subject we all think we understand: Fasting? It's giving up food, right? Or, maybe it's giving up things in general, right?

Billions of people around the world do it--certainly Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Christians and followers of many other faiths. We do it, because ... Well, because it's a tradition, right? A requirement of the faith. And because, it somehow ... somehow ... connects us with larger spiritual truths, doesn't it?

Well, yes it does, writes Scot McKnight, the Karl A Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University in Chicago and the popular author of more than 20 books. But--the spiritual truth of fasting is a whole lot larger than most of us suspect.

Fasting is whole-body spirituality. It's disturbing, Phyllis Tickle points out, not only because of the physical demands--but also because it's admitting that we're not merely a spirit hooked to a physical form. It can be disturbing to admit that we are whole beings--mind, body, spirit hooked together as a whole.

The opening line of Scot's book is: "Fasting is a person's whole-body, natural, response to life's sacred moments."

He gives us great examples of fasting out of the lives of biblical figures as well as later major figures in the Christian faith. And he also argues strongly against the temptation to recommend fasting as a sort of boot-camp quick-fix for bulking up on our prayer life. Fasting is a response of compassion to needs in God's world, Scot argues, and not a tool to juice-up our prayers.

Each of the books in this series by Thomas Nelson is an in-depth look at an ancient spiritual practice, written primarily for a Christian audience--although the millions of spiritually minded Americans who aren't Christian likely will enjoy the series as well. The books are great for small-group study.
Too Narrow a Focus  Apr 8, 2009
"Fasting" by Scot McKnight is the fourth in "The Ancient Practices Series" edited by Phyllis Tickle. McKnight has a very limited view of fasting. He considers the term "fasting" to be appropriate only when talking about not eating at all or subsisting on just liquids. What most of us today consider fasting, that is, eating less food or refraining from certain foods, McKnight categorizes as "abstaining." This is unfortunate because I think that will make this book appeal to a very narrow group of people.

McKnight does do a good job of explaining Biblical fasting, especially that the reason for it was in response to a "grievous sacred moment," whether that be grief or repentance for sin. He emphasizes that fasting should never be done as a means to an end, but always in response to a life event. He describes the various aspects of fasting, such as fasting as body turning, fasting as body plea, fasting as body grief, fasting as body discipline, fasting as body calendar, and fasting as body contact. He is intent on focusing on fasting as uniting body and soul. He also describes some of the problems associated with fasting and health issues to consider.

I really wanted to like this book, but I don't think that it achieved its purpose. If the intent of this series on ancient practices is to convince people of the value of them, this one missed its mark. Its focus is too narrow and McKnight is too critical of the reasons why people might try fasting or abstaining (which I feel does have great value).

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