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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review: Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson

Discipleship isn't exactly the hottest thing in Christianity these days. While the parachurch organizations of a couple decades ago firmly planted their flags in this ground, the evangelical church of the new millennium seems to have moved away from discipleship (at least in name) or altogether replaced it with small groups. (Case in point: while the concept of discipleship remains, my church uses "apprenticeship" to emphasize a thrust towards getting disciples involved in and serving the church.)

At the same time, there doesn't seem to be any hotter topic today (at least in Christian print) than the gospel. So at first glance, the title of Jonathan Dodson's new book is a bit of a mixed bag, Gospel-Centered Discipleship draws together the new and the old, the hot and the passé.

But if you get passed the cover—which by any standard is pretty boring—you will find an idea that is anything but passé or boring. Dodson makes quick work of showing that discipleship is rooted not in a fad of the 80's and 90's but in the example and instruction of Jesus himself. He also draws the connection often missing between the gospel and discipleship: the same gospel people believe to be justified and "saved" is the same gospel people believe to be sanctified and discipled. As Dodson says, "Followers of Jesus make and mature disciples by going with the gospel, baptizing disciples into gospel community, and teaching the gospel".

The other liability of a title like Gospel-Centered Discipleship is that it risks limiting the audience of this book more than it deserves. While the book begins and ends addressing the ideas of the gospel and discipleship, half of the chapters at the heart of this book address the gospel and sanctification and deserve to be read by more than just those Christians who consider themselves either "disciple" or "discipler".

All in all, Gospel-Centered Discipleship is a solid book that I am sure I will be loaning out a lot. This book merits a broader audience than the title and cover art(?) may draw. Here's hoping that we can help fix that!

Stay tuned to Christians In Context (my other blog)! (i.e. subscribe if you haven't already) We will be giving away a copy of Gospel-Centered Discipleship sometime in the next couple of weeks!

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Disciples of Jesus, whether you are currently in a discipleship relationship or not

This book was a free review copy provided by Crossway.

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