Book Review: The Spiritual Guide

“The Spiritual Guide” by Miguel de Molinos, Seed Sowers Christian Books, 142 pages (including a biography of Molinos at the end).

  • Critical read*
  • Must read 
  • Good read 
  • Read if you want 
  • Read something else

* Only if you are very serious about living in intimate communion with your God as depicted in the New Testament. If that is not the “Christian life” you are seeking, you will miss the point of the book.

Why: So many reasons, so little time. This is one of the most widely read books on how to develop a deeper devotion to our God, a devotion worthy of the “Gethsemane union” Jesus speaks of in John 17:20-23. Accused by some (who I am certain have never read this book fully) of being an “eastern mystic” and therefore a heretic, Molinos charts the path of sacrificial devotion, surrendered living, and deep communion found in the New Testament scriptures but not in the institutional church practice.

Far from eastern mysticism, what Molinos describes is the pure devotion to Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit which has characterized the lives of the apostles. It also characterized the lives of the great cloud of faithful seekers who were persecuted by the institutional church in its many forms from the 300’s to the current era. Indeed this book so enlivened and electrified its readers in the 1600s that the book was banned by the Pope in 1687, and Molinos imprisoned as a “heretic.” The point of his teachings were not condemned, because they were drawn from a long list of earlier Catholic writers, some of whom were already canonized as saints. The problem was that those who followed what Molinos taught were more likely to experience the reality and presence of their God apart from the Catholic institutional system. The church could not abide people experiencing the risen Christ in their daily living when it was presenting only the dying Christ in the Mass.

But by then, the book had been translated into most of Europe’s languages and had swept across all of Europe and was spreading across Asia Minor. It was a major influence on many of the Christian writers who came after Molinos, as well as on many “ordinary” Christian believers who were seeking a deeper relationship of surrender and love for their God.

Point: In this volume, Molinos attempts to help the reader understand the words of Christ and Paul as these taught about living in communion with Christ. Such living is found only by abandoning the self-life and embracing the life of the God oneself by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Molinos walks the reader through many of the challenges of such a devoted life of seeking Christ. He always returns to the words of Jesus and Paul regarding losing one’s own life to gain the life of God, focusing on Christ who is our life, surrendering to His love, and being content to live close to God no matter what is going on elsewhere in life. Molinos also gives much ink to the issue of suffering, placing into its proper perspective as a gift from our God intended to draw us closer into Himself.

Impact: Countless people have read this book and been transformed by the message of devotion to our God, love for Him, and surrendering to the processes of purification we all need if we are to abide in Christ in deep, intimate communion. This book has been an inspiration to countless “big names,” such as Simpson, Murray, Nee, and Tozer. Warren Wiersbe once wrote of A.W. Tozer, “Woe to the pastor who does not read Tozer.” After reading dozens of Tozer’s works, I wonder if he would state, “Woe to the Christian who does not read Molinos.”

Quotes: “Why do so many believers hinder the Lord’s deeper work within their lives? It is because they wish to achieve something, because they have a desire to be great. For this reason you find many believers attaching themselves to the gifts of the Spirit so that they may come out from that central portion of their being where they themselves are nothing; thus the whole work of the Lord in their lives is spoiled. They do not seek the Lord; therefore, they do not find Him. we find Him only where He is all and where we are nothing.”

Similar: You can find the themes of Molinos’ book in the writings of many of the great names of the non-conformist path of the faith, those who sought their God alone, free from the artificiality of the institutional church religion. Brother Lawrence, Jean Guyonne (persecuted by the church), Francois Fenelon (persecuted by the church), George Fox (also persecuted by the church), Richard Baxter, Gerhard Tersteegen, William Law, Francis Havergal, Andrew Murray, A.B. Simpson, Oswald Chambers, T. Austin Sparks, Watchman Nee, A.W. Tozer, and C.S. Lewis. More recently, you will find these them also in the works of V. Raymond Edman, Thomas R. Kelly, Malcom Smith, W. Ian Thomas, John Eldredge, Gene Edwards, Frank Viola, Milt Rodriguez, David G. Benner, and Vance Pitman. And there are more of whom I have not written here.

If you want to know your God intimately, love Him deeply, and surrender to Him fully, this book will be a huge help to you on that journey.

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