Disciple Making in a Culture of Power, Comfort, and Fear

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Disciple Making in a Culture of Power, Comfort, and Fear

Author:

Matthew T. Dickerson

Publisher:

Cascade Books (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers)

https://wipfandstock.com/imprint/cascade-3

Publication Date:

June 3, 2020

Format:

Paperback

Length:

144 pages

OVERVIEW

Every person grows up in a particular culture, and that culture provides a series of lenses for interpreting reality. For the Christian, this means that a big part of life is learning to let go of cultural lenses that run counter to the Bible’s view of reality. Matthew Dickerson suggests that this is a perpetual process, as even mature Christians can find themselves falling back on their inherited cultural lenses. Therefore discipleship, the process of learning a Biblical worldview and becoming more like Christ, is vital. Dickerson considers three important principles for discipleship:

  • Discipleship is rooted in God’s Word
  • Discipleship is relational
  • Discipleship takes place in the context of Christian fellowship and church

Dickerson explains these principles through Scripture, including a look at the three metaphors that Paul uses for discipleship in 2 Timothy 2:3-6. Then he follows his explanation up with chapters that consider what it means to obey God and be transformed. Throughout the book, he looks at what these ideas mean for American Christians, noting cultural views that run counter to Scripture.

Far too often, books about discipleship which address what the author thinks are “the big contemporary problems” end up not being that helpful. For one thing, those books are often highly detailed explanations of a certain way to do discipleship (which, as Dickerson notes in his last chapter, only helps people who are similar to the writer). For another, Christian writers are more influenced by their time period than they think. What they think is a big problem may end up being a passing fad that no one remembers five years later. Thus, trying to be too topical can actually kill Christian books.

Fortunately, Dickerson does a masterful job of avoiding these pitfalls. He talks about contemporary problems that American Christians need to watch out for, but picks problems which have clearly been shown over time to exist across American culture (such as materialism and individualism). He’s also careful to base his critiques on the Bible’s view of morality, not whatever he happens to find foreign or offensive. This makes Dickerson’s critiques relevant and his solutions truly helpful.

Perhaps just as importantly, Dickerson writes with a clear and calm tone, avoiding attempts to frighten readers every other page. As he notes in an early chapter, he dislikes the fear-mongering approach because Christians are supposed to live without fear. Writing to frighten would not only go against that Biblical principle, it would have made this book easy to dismiss. Books that use alarming language to shock the reader usually exaggerate for a certain effect, and on closer inspection they always feel a bit gimmicky. By writing clearly and with a humble yet inspiring tone, Dickerson ensures his writing will last.

A refreshing and thoroughly helpful look at becoming a disciple and disciple maker.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians seeking to understand the basic Biblical principles of discipleship, with a particular emphasis on overcoming American cultural ideas that make discipleship harder.

Christian Impact

Dickerson guides readers through various Biblical passages that discuss discipleship and following God (particularly Paul’s advice in 2 Timothy 2). By talking about how easy it is to fall back on cultural presuppositions and the need to overcome them, Dickerson helps readers understand a concept that many American Christians miss: not everything their culture believes is Biblically-based. Understanding the limits and flaws within one’s culture is vital to being a mature Christian. This is a point far too few Christian books talk about, and it makes Dickerson’s book particularly important.

Disciple Making in a Culture of Power, Comfort, and Fear


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