Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
In many ways “Soul Keeping” by author and pastor John Ortberg is a tribute to and reflection upon the life of Dallas Willard. I have been familiar with John Ortberg through his books “The Life You Always Wanted,” “If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat,” and Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them.” I have also heard him speak a few times at conferences. Since I have been positively influenced by him, I was anxious to read “Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You.”
Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California, although he additionally educated as a clinical psychologist. This is valuable preparation for a book about attending to one’s soul. As alluded to above, Ortberg has been extremely affected by the life of Dallas Willard, who passed in May of last year. (You can read my reflections of Dallas Willard and is passing by clicking here.) Willard’s impact is strongly exhibited throughout the “Soul Keeping.”
“Soul Keeping” is a book on how Christians care for the most essential part of us their lives. From the beginning, Ortberg attempts to describe the soul so that the reader can continue with a basic understanding. Once he defines what the soul is; he goes on to examining what the soul needs and finally how the soul is revived.
There were a few points which I especially welcomed. First, Ortberg does an excellent job of distinguishing between the soul and the self. So frequently, in modern thinking, we only consider the self, which Ortberg advises is misguided. Preferably, he suggests, we should concentrate on the soul, which determines who we are in relationship with God. In today’s narcissistic Christian culture, this is an essential differentiation.
Second, Ortberg effectively folds in his belief about the importance of spiritual rhythms. As one inspired by Willard and associated with Renovare, Ortberg views spiritual rhythms, or disciplines, as vitally important. He explains these in more depth in his book “The Life You Always Wanted,” though here they presented more as a given.
I would strongly recommend this book. It is profoundly relational, hopeful, and grounded in the trustworthiness of Scripture.