Cover image for The journey : a pilgrim in the lands of the spirit
The journey : a pilgrim in the lands of the spirit
McGrath, Alister E., 1953-
Personal Author:
First edition in the United States of America.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2000.

Physical Description:
vii, 152 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BV4501.2 .M23575 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"Here is a golden book on the Christian life, guaranteed to excite, encourage, and energize plodding pilgrims. Buy it, treasure it, and invest in a stack of copies to give away." --J.I. Packer InThe Journey, Alister McGrath has created a map for Christians who wish to explore and enrich their spirituality. Using examples from the lives of renowned Christians such as Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, J.I. Packer, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and John Stott, he shows readers how to overcome the obstacles that can block the journey to God--doubt, distraction, temptation, tiredness, emptiness, and low self-esteem. These preachers, writers, and pastors encouraged their followers to look beyond the transitory concerns of this world, and to focus on God and what He offers to those who prevail on their spiritual journey--advice that continues to have merit today. The Journeyis an essential book for all Christians, whether they are new to the faith or have been traveling on the Christian pathway for years.

Author Notes

Alister McGrath is currently professor of theology at Oxford and principal of Wycliffe Hall. He is a consulting editor, general editor and author of several books. He lives in Oxford, England.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

McGrath (Oxford University professor of historical theology and author of A Journey Through Suffering and To Know and Serve God) offers an extended journey metaphor to help Christians deepen their spirituality. McGrath describes the ultimate barrenness of using only a cerebral approach to the Christian life to the exclusion of imagination, meditation and real-life application, doubtless speaking to many who have attended Bible studies for years, perfecting their knowledge but not necessarily experiencing changed lives. Next, McGrath presents his intricate journey metaphor, speaking of the Exodus as a basic pattern--from "our own Egypt" to our promised land. The second part of the book groups the chapters around four "landmarks" on the journey: creation, exile, redemption and consummation. Within each chapter are three subsections: landmark, wilderness and oasis, symbolizing the motives, the difficulties and the rewards of that stage. In addition, in each subsection, McGrath "hitches a ride" with a Christian saint whose writings offer guidance; his exemplary pilgrims range from Anselm of Canterbury to C.S. Lewis and include some who are still writing today, such as John Stott and J.I. Packer. The Journey should appeal to readers who enjoy Christian spirituality works along the lines of Richard J. Foster's Celebration of Discipline and Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

McGrath (historical theology, Oxford Univ.) is one of today's principal and most prolific scholars on the history of Christianity for a general readership. His guide to the Christian life has the sound excellence one might expect, and his reflections on Christian faith as a journey are fleshed out with examples from the writings and experience of those who have gone before, including Susanna Wesley and C.S. Lewis. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Journey The Bible is saturated with the image of a journey. Wherever we turn, we read of individuals making journeys. Perhaps the greatest of those was the forty-year journey of the people of Israel from their harsh captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. Elsewhere, we read of Abraham stepping out in faith to leave the land of his ancestors and go to a place chosen by God. He did not know where he was going, but he knew whom he would be traveling with, and that was good enough for him. We also read of pilgrims setting out to travel to Jerusalem, daunted by the thought of the mountains they must climb and the harsh conditions they will face, and yet consoled by the thought of the presence of God as they travel. We read of the people of Jerusalem returning home after their long period of exile in Babylon. The New Testament relates how the earliest term used to refer to Christians was "those who belong to the Way" (Acts 9:2). They were to be seen as travelers on their way to the New Jerusalem. Thinking of the Christian life as a journey through the world offers us a vivid and helpful way of visualizing the life of faith. Consider each of the following points. 1. The image of a journey reminds us that we are going somewhere. We are on our way to the New Jerusalem. It encourages us to think ahead and look forward with anticipation to the joy of arrival. One day we shall finally be with God, and see our Lord face-to-face! 2. Traveling does more than lead us to the goal of our journeying. A journey is itself a process that enables us to grow and develop as we press on to our goal. To travel is thus about finally achieving journey's end, with all the joy and delight that this will bring--but it is also about inducing personal and spiritual growth within us as we travel. Journeying is thus a process that catalyzes our development as people and as believers. This is an important point and needs to be considered further. JOURNEYING AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT In one sense, people who complete the journey are the same as when they began it. Yet in another sense, they are different in that they have been changed by what they experience. A journey is a process of personal development, not simply a means of getting from A to B. To travel to a distant land is a purposeful and intentional matter. We must believe that this journey is worth undertaking. The journey itself offers us the chance to deepen our commitment to its object. As we journey, we have the opportunity of reflecting on our goal and anticipating our arrival. Anticipation of the joy of reaching that goal then becomes a means of sustaining us as we travel. Spiritual writers of the Middle Ages used the Latin word viator to refer to a believer. The word literally means "a wayfarer" or "a traveler"--someone who is passing through the world. The term points to the need to see oneself as a traveler, not a settler; someone who is passing through the world, not one who expects or wants to remain there. The journey also allows us to understand ourselves better. Each of us is a complex mixture of strengths and weaknesses, some of which are known to us and others that are hidden from us. Those strengths can help us minister to others and build up God's kingdom, just as those weaknesses can hinder us. Learning about ourselves, and responding to what we find, is an important aspect of Christian discipleship. To journey on our own is to have the time and space to uncover ourselves; to travel with others is to allow them to identify the strengths and weaknesses we manage to hide from ourselves, and be supported as we try to engage with them. Yet the Christian life is not easy, nor is it meant to be. Jesus himself pointed out that following in his footsteps involved taking up a cross. To be a Christian is potentially to suffer. As Christians down the ages have discovered, the quality of Christian witness is directly proportional to the extent to which the church is persecuted. Even in happier times the life of faith can be painful and discouraging. Sometimes the difficulty arises through false expectations, raised by well-meaning evangelists or pastors who tell their followers that becoming a Christian guarantees health, wealth, and happiness. More commonly, we get discouraged because we feel that God is distant or unreal, or that we are not capable of sustaining our faith throughout the journey that lies ahead. What we thought would be a brisk and brief stroll turns into a marathon for which we are simply not properly prepared. It is at this point that the theme of "spirituality" comes in. Nowadays, everybody seems to realize how important spirituality is. Spirituality is all about the way in which we encounter and experience God and the transformation of our consciousness and our lives as a result of that encounter and experience. Spirituality is about the internalization of our faith. It means allowing our faith to saturate every aspect of our lives, infecting and affecting our thinking, feeling, and living. Nobody can doubt how much we need to deepen the quality of our Christian lives and experience, with God's gracious assistance, and live more authentic lives in which we experience to the full the wonder of the love and grace of God. We need to get in training for the marathon that lies ahead. It all sounds so simple and easy--in theory. In practice, however, things are not quite so straightforward. So what hope is there for people like me, then, who aren't very good at spirituality? How are we going to manage to get further along the road of faith, when we find that we are already stumbling and weary despite our best intentions? The beginnings of an answer lie at hand. We need to pause, gather our thoughts, and plan for the remainder of the journey of faith. PAUSING FOR THOUGHT The journey has already begun. That's why we start thinking about it. These two statements may strike some readers as odd. Yet most of us begin to realize the importance of preparing for this journey only once we are well under way in the life of faith. In the neat and organized world many of us would prefer to inhabit, it wouldn't be like that. The life of faith would be planned with military precision. It would be like the Allied plans for the invasion of Europe in 1944. A huge amount of planning would go into the operation. Every last detail would be sorted out. Provision would be made for every contingency. Yet the real world is much more untidy than these idealists appreciate! Most of us set out on the journey of faith not fully comprehending the implications of what we have done. It's only when we've started that we realize we should have laid the groundwork properly. So what do we do then? Give up? Certainly not! The best preparations are made once the journey is under way. Excerpted from The Journey: A Pilgrim in the Lands of the Spirit by Alister E. McGrath All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.