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Book Review - The Critical Journey

Book Review - The Critical Journey

Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich

The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith is a book about spiritual growth. The authors describe how we grow as Christians through six stages. I read this book about ten years ago and found it quite helpful. Reading it now, after spending a good bit of time in Stage 4 and The Wall, I found even more useful insights.

According to the authors, we start our faith journey in Stage 1, where we first recognize our need for and the existence of God. We progress through Stage 2, where we learn more about God, and Stage 3, where we become more productive Christians.

Stage 4 is called The Journey Inward and includes something called “The Wall”, a place where we have to face our “dark night of the soul” and come face to face with really surrendering ourselves to God. This is the most helpful part of the book. I think I have spent the last ten years drifting in and out of The Wall as I’ve dealt with a number of emotional and spiritual issues related to chronic migraine and the loss of my career as a physician.

Stages 5 and 6 are The Journey Outward and The Live of Love, respectively. These are the stages that people find themselves in after they have dealt with most of the issues in The Wall.

I highly recommend this book as a guide to your spiritual journey. When you are feeling stuck and not sure what is going on and how you might get past it, the diagnostic sections at the end of the chapters may help you sort out if you are “caged” at one of the stages. It’s also reassuring to see that your journey, while uniquely your own, is not completely unlike other people’s. You aren’t the only one to have ever felt like God has gone silent or to wonder if you’ll ever feel like praying again. Reading this helped me feel like my struggles were normal.

Definitely pick up a copy when you get a chance.