This is part two of an interview with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. In part one, they talk about the difference between discipleship and spiritual formation.

Along with the other editors, you've decided to include the Apocrypha in The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. Why?

Richard Foster: We discussed it a lot. Most of the church throughout most of her history has had those writings, and we felt we should follow that. The early church had the Septuagint, which had essentially the Apocrypha in it. The great Christian traditions—Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and many other groups—have used the Apocrypha. To describe it, we use the word deuterocanonical, which means "second canon."

None of these groups have ever accorded the Apocrypha or the deuterocanonicals the same authority as Scripture; neither do we. But they have viewed it as really good literature that fills an important historical gap from Malachi to Matthew. To understand how Jesus was speaking into his day, you have to understand the deuterocanonical literature. Even the Reformers like Luther said it was good to read.

How is The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible different from, say, a life application Bible?

Dallas Willard: Fundamentally, a different vision of the Christian life underlies them. Let me just speak positively in terms of The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. Its vision of the Christian life looks at it developing historically and encourages people to engage in not just preaching the truths and doing the commands, but trying to identify with the actual life they see. So one of the main things that's different in this Bible is the attention to spiritual disciplines of all kinds that show up in the Bible. There's an appendix on them and lots of notes to help people understand simple things.

For example, in the later part of Genesis, people built altars. Why did they do that? What was the role of that in their religious lives? What did it do in terms of helping them live with God? Are there any altars that we could build to God? What might they be? Of course, it's not going to be a piece of stone out in a field somewhere. But an altar is a place of offering up a life to God. Where do we offer up ours? And how can you do that as an individual?

Why the stress on spiritual disciplines throughout this Bible?

Dallas Willard: We don't want to just give the abstract concept, but say, "Look at what is happening here and think of it in terms of real life and how it affected the life of Joseph, the life of David, or Jesus, or Paul."

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One could argue that the same thing could be said about other devotional Bibles.

Richard Foster: You've got to see an essential difference between the idea of I read a passage, and I try to apply it to my life and What kind of a person am I supposed to become out of this whole interaction with God, with the Scripture, and with my life situation? It's a totally different question you're asking. How is my character formed?

Give me an example of how this happens.

Richard Foster: Take Abraham going up Mount Moriah and struggling with the decision to sacrifice Isaac. Now what I ask becomes, as Alexander Whyte said, autobiographic of me. So the question is, "What do I need to sacrifice?" My most priceless possession. I think about what I need to let go of not just to be letting go but because of what happens to me as a result—so that I am freed from possessiveness, so that the words my and mine have changed their meaning, so that I am a different kind of person.

One time, I just wanted to learn a little bit about detachment. As I remember, this wasn't tied to a Bible passage. But I asked the Lord, and in my spirit it felt like I should give away my bicycle. Not buy a bicycle for someone, but take mine and give it away. Detachment.

And not buy the same or better kind of bike immediately after you give yours away.

Richard Foster: Right, not that. So I just waited for a little while and heard somebody sharing in our church fellowship how desperately a father wanted to get a bicycle for his son. I went to him and said, "I have a bicycle for you." As I was driving it over, I was singing that little song, "Freely, freely you have received. Freely, freely give." That song took on a whole new significance.

Anyway, I went to the father's house and presented him with the bike. He walked me out to the car and said, "Why are you doing this?" It didn't compute in his mind, because it wasn't to get something out of him. It wasn't to make him come to church. It wasn't anything. His son needed a bicycle; I had a bicycle. So I said, "Because I'm learning how to be set free, to be detached."

That's just a simple experience of practicing a spiritual discipline and being formed in the process. That's attentiveness to the formation of the life, the character. And that's different from just reading something and applying it. You see the difference?

The focus that we have had editorially is on the heart—every note, every introduction, every teaching helps people to learn again that just changing behavior doesn't do it.

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Dallas Willard: In using terms like discipline, discipleship, and spiritual formation, it's very important to be clear as to what we're talking about. Confusion really does exact a pretty dreadful price on practice. For example: Why would one give something away—what is that about? Does it earn merit? What does it do? To see it in the light of changing one's life from the inside is what this Bible emphasizes.

Richard Foster: Without going into any details, I can say that I've been asked to do Bibles before, and I've always turned them down, because I could tell that the people were not serious. They wanted a Hallmark Bible, just pretty decorations. I have no interest in doing those kinds of things. We wanted something substantive. We worked very, very hard for a long time on this Bible's essays.

Back to part one: Foster and Willard on the difference between discipleship and spiritual formation.

Related Elsewhere:

The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible is available from and other book retailers.

Renovare has more information about its Bible, including a sampler.

More information about Renovare, including an invitation to sign its covenant, as well as further readings, is available from their website.

The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible is available from and other book retailers.

CT reviews of Willard's and Foster's books include:

In His Steps | How to Become an Apprentice of Jesus. A review of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. (1999)
Celebration of Traditions | Richard Foster wants Christians to be renewed by encountering the church's "living streams." A review of Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster. (May 24, 1999)