We’re right now serving notice, so don’t say nobody told you about An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness, by Andy Davis. Davis is one of the most significant and unique pastor-theologians in the United States. He serves as pastor of First Baptist Church Durham and Visiting Professor of Theology at SEBTS. He holds earned degrees from MIT, Gordon-Conwell, and Southern Seminary. More than any of those things, however, he is probably best known for his approach to Scripture memory, and for having memorized approximately thirty books of the Bible.
As we mentioned, Dr. Davis has recently published An Infinite Journey, which, it turns out, is an excellent book on progressive sanctification. An Infinite Journey was released today, is available on Amazon.com and other major outlets, and is an essential text for those seeking to be more effective in their journey toward sanctification.
J. D. Greear endorses the book by saying, “I love Andy Davis extraordinary mind. I love the breadth of his reading. Most of all, I love his terrific understanding of the Christian life and his grasp of the gospel. He is a faithful brother, and this book is a gift to the church.” Danny Akin endorses it by saying that it “is biblically grounded, theologically rich, and practical in application. It felt like I was reading a modern Puritan. Do not be hesitant to delve into this treasure because of its size. The precious nuggets of truth that leap from its pages will make the investment a wise one indeed.”
Davis builds a model which manages to be functional, comprehensive, and systematic, and yet resists being reduced to a legalistic formula. In this model, the ongoing process of sanctification is revealed as a perpetual four-part cycle.
The cycle begins with knowledge, which is both the factual knowledge gained through Scripture and experiential knowledge gained from Christian living. Knowledge then leads to faith, which is the “assurance of and commitment to spiritual truth.” Faith is characterized by belief in the truths acquired through knowledge and the acceptance of the implications of those truths. Faith produces character as the affection, desire, will, thought, and emotions of the Christian are brought into conformity to scriptural standards. These five elements combine to demonstrate the Virtue of the individual believer, which should increasingly reflect Christ’s character. The Character of the individual believer results in action, the “external lifestyle of habitual obedience.” Actions in all areas of life lead to experiential knowledge gained through obedience and increased factual knowledge through continued study of the Word, which brings the cycle back to its natural beginning.
This four part cycle, which Davis calls the K-F-C-A cycle, is likened to an upward spiral. The cycle continues in a similar pattern, but the trajectory should always be toward Christlikeness. The journey is infinite in that perfection will not be achieved this side of Glory, but Davis makes a compelling case for the pursuing the infinite journey with a sense of joy.
Davis presents a meticulous outline, illustrating it graphically, and then faithfully executes his plan in short chapters with frequent headings that help keep the reader on track. Each chapter of An Infinite Journey is marked by extensive interaction with Scripture. Davis expounds text after text, weaving together themes from the entire canon to demonstrate the biblical foundations of his model. Toward the end of the volume, Davis uses case studies from Scripture that show his K-F-C-A model in the lives of biblical heroes. This book reflects Davis’ love for God and his delight in Scripture, and demonstrates his commitment to communicate Scripture faithfully and meaningfully.
Davis also explains his points with practical illustrations from world history along with his experiences as a mechanical engineer, missionary, and pastor. His pastoral heart is demonstrated through his continual efforts to clearly communicate his proposed model through word pictures.
The most significant strength of Davis’ book is that he provides a functional model with practical applications but without invoking a ritualistic set pattern of spiritual disciplines. Davis presents a model that shows that believers must go beyond the Sunday School answers to sanctification in order to become more Christlike. In the last chapter of the book, Davis gives specific, practical applications for believers pursuing holiness. While reading the Bible, praying, and going to church are certainly part of the K-F-C-A model, Davis makes it clear that engaging in spiritual disciplines apart from a holistic approach to progressive sanctification in the power of the Spirit will be spiritually deadening.
An Infinite Journey is a top-shelf treatment of progressive sanctification, comparable to some of the classic Puritan works on the subject. It deserves a place on the shelves of scholars, pastors, and laypeople. More to the point, it deserves to be read by Christians who are serious about becoming more like Christ.