This book is an answer to the challenge posed by Dallas Willard to provide a true theology of discipleship. One that can answer key questions concerning what the Gospel, the call, and salvation really are about.
Each chapter deals with a significant aspect of discipleship (chapters 4 and 5 combined deal with the Holy Spirit and how people change.) Chapter 1 deals with the Gospel.
“If we get the gospel wrong, we get everything wrong.” And Bill makes a convincing case that many of us, have indeed, gotten the gospel wrong…whether on the right or the left. In my own church, the Gospel of Forgiveness has been preached for a long time. It is a Gospel that many are familiar with and why shouldn’t we be…it was introduced (at least in part) through people like Billy Graham and through tools like “The 4 Spiritual Laws.” Unfortunately, the problem with the Gospel of Forgiveness is that it left out things like repentance and following Christ…things essential to the Gospel that Jesus preached.
Bill makes some good points when he says, “This shift from gospel culture to salvation culture has weakened the church, diminished the lives of Christians, and made disciple-making difficult. What we should see as the starting line, our conversion to Christ, has become the finish line.”
This Gospel of Forgiveness has become so inseparable in the minds of many that if an altar call isn’t given it is assumed that the true gospel isn’t preached. I appreciated Bill’s quote by George Whitefield (a famous evangelist in England in the 18th century) when asked concerning how many conversions occurred in a meeting he reportedly answered, “I don’t know, we should know more in six months.”
“Discipleship” is a “hot-topic”, check the books being published, the seminars being sold, the mission statements being written. It is my hope, however, that it is more than a fad, because it certainly wasn’t a fad as far as Jesus was concerned. I am deeply concerned when both people in the pews and in the pulpits separate what God has put together. Hopefully, this book will be a step in the right direction in getting people to see that conversion and discipleship are a package deal.
*I received an electronic copy of the book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest opinion. I didn’t receive any other remuneration.