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Discipleship in Community

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Member Reviews

I struggled staying invested in this book. I'm not even sure that I'd truthfully say that I read the whole thing. As many of the other reviews have already stated, I was thinking it was something a little different than what it actually is, therefore was a little disappointed. One day I may return and give it a second try, but for now I'm moving on to other books on discipleship.
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Who are the "Churches of Christ" and the "Disciples of Christ" organizations? What do they believe in? What is the Stone-Campbell movement and their "restoration perspective?" For the authors of this book, the key operative word answer is "discipleship." Thus, the title for this book. Such discipleship mirrors the two greatest commandments: Love God and Love People. Discipleship is about participation in the life of the Triune God as well as building up a community of disciples in order to share in God's mission. This theme of discipleship is anchored on six fundamental convictions:

1)  A Trinitarian vision of God
2)  An eschatological outlook
3)  Strong biblical orientation in its teaching and spirituality
4)  The Believers Church tradition
5)  The sacramental presence and working of God, especially in baptism and the Lord’s Supper
6)  The church’s participation in God’s mission  

Each of these basic convictions is given a chapter. (The concise summary can be found at the website here.) The authors caution us that we cannot reduce "Stone-Campbell theology" to a particular "method or hermeneutic." The reason being the right methods do not necessarily lead to the right conclusions. The conclusion must trump methods. Theological commitment needs to be foremost while the methods and interpretations are accorded secondary importance. Some of the distinctiveness of the Churches of Christ are:

    Believers' Baptism
    Weekly Participation of the Lord's Supper
    Irenic Trinitarians (Peaceful resolution via non-divisive discussion)
    Eschatology as hope for Christian living and discipleship
    Presents an alternative to both Roman Catholic as well as mainline denominations

My Thoughts
This book is primarily written from a Churches of Christ perspective. It incorporates many different perspectives and theological methods from within the adherents of this denomination. With a tradition that goes way back to the Early Church, their beginnings are noble. Thus, this book forms a great summary of what the members believe in. This is particularly important for the present generation and the many more generations to come. It helps members answer simple questions such as "What do the Churches of Christ believe in? How are they similar (and different) from the rest of the Christian world? Compared to some of the other mainline denominations, there is a relative lack of resources from the standpoint of the Churches of Christ. This book is a needed resource for members of CoC to know more about what they believe. I would suspect that the theological uniqueness might appeal more to the more academic or theologically inclined members. That said, it is always good to have a ready reference on the bookshelf.

I believe many readers might not belong to the Churches of Christ denomination. Nevertheless, they can still appreciate the various theological convictions and conclusions drawn. The differences are not that significant as far as fundamental Christian doctrine is concerned. For example, Christians believe in the Trinity, but the theological methods to arrive there might be different. In other words, the basic agreements are the same but the emphases vary in degree and scope. I appreciate the honest struggles pertaining to interpreting the Trinity as One God. The processes might be difficult, but the different strands eventually come back to the affirmation of the Nicene Creed. I find it heartwarming to see the members of the Churches of Christ eagerly seeking Truth in Scripture. That should be the focus for all Christians. It reminds me that the Christian community is a diverse one, yet united in the common tenets of faith. The emphases might be different but the beliefs are common.

I was attracted to this book based on the title itself. Upon reading it, I realize it is more of a theological statement of faith from the perspective of the Churches of Christ. Having said that, the theology described would resonate with a lot of mainstream Christian thought. For that reason, I would warmly recommend this book as one that provides foundations for doing and living discipleship.

ACUP is associated with the Churches of Christ in America. Mark E. Powell is Professor of Theology at Harding School of Theology. He teaches courses in systematic theology, historical theology, ethics, and philosophy of religion. His research and writing interests include the doctrine of the Trinity, religious epistemology, and theology in the Stone-Campbell Movement.

John Mark Hicks is Professor of Theology at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has taught in institutions affiliated with Churches of Christ for over 38 years.

Greg McKinzie is an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at Lipscomb University.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Abilene Christian University Press, Leafwood Publishers, and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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Seems to be a primer for discipleship in a particular faith community/denomination. I was hoping it would be broad enough to glean insight for other denominations/local churches. However, the time spent on the theology of the author's denomination became distracting for me.
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I believe we are in a time that discipleship so badly needs to be reinstalled into the life of how we as Christian's live out our faith. I loved how this book breaks down how discipleship should be. It does so though in way that any reader can understand. Sometimes these kinds of books can be too theologically lofty leaving most Christian's not knowing how to pragmatically live out their life as a disciple. It also gives great advice for the church as whole on how we can faithfully lead our congregations to be disciples so that we can go and be the church. Highly Recommend!
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A sort of faith manual intended for members of churches of Christ in which the best of their heritage is commended and a type of way forward for the future.  

The work is anchored in the premise of everything leading to faithful discipleship, a historic and present emphasis in churches of Christ.  The authors speak of a robust Trinitarian understanding of the faith and how it can and should anchor a Christian's faith and perspective, and the goal of relational unity with God and with one another.  The authors then speak of eschatology and provide a robust new heavens and new earth eschatology rooted in the confidence of the resurrection and how such a perspective informs discipleship.  Next is a discussion of Scripture and an attempt to maintain an elevated perspective on the value of Scripture but centering on the use of Scripture to inform discipleship, getting way from the tendency toward bibliolatry easily manifest in churches of Christ.  Then value is placed in the believers' church and the historic emphasis on the ministry and priesthood of all believers in the church.  Baptism and the Lord's Supper are then covered with a sacramental emphasis: there is some value in envisioning baptism and the Lord's Supper as sacraments and sacramental experiences, focusing on the community aspects of both and going beyond just the memorial/remembrance aspects of the Supper.  The final dimension is mission and an orientation of community values around God's mission in the Kingdom.  The work has two responses, one highlighting a feminist approach and another a liberation theology approach to churches of Christ.

There's a lot of good stuff here to chew on; a lot of healthy reassessments and attempts to maintain the best of the heritage of churches of Christ while looking forward to a more holistic and healthy discipleship and faith in the future.  

But the work must be recognized for what it is: a treatise that attempts to direct the ideology prevalent in churches of Christ.  This work is not a description of what members of churches of Christ believe: if you go to a church of Christ and expect to see something like what is adumbrated here, you're going to be disappointed.  A new heavens and new earth eschatology is a very minority position presently among churches of Christ.  Everyone across the spectrum will be able to find things with which to disagree and question in the work.  I, for one, could have done without the creedal emphases, finding some value in the historic critique of creedalism in the heritage - even if the substance of the creeds is generally decent, the impulse toward making the creeds is rank sectarianism.  Those of the non-institutional persuasion will not find a whole lot of room left for them in the perspective on missions, and they have a critique which ought to be heard - if the missions impulse was all too married with colonialism in the past, how can we be sure that modern mission practices are the end all and be all of how mission ought to be performed?  

The purpose of the work ought to be kept in mind, but it is still worth considering.  An emphasis on discipleship in a Trinitarian framework holding firm to the basic orthodox principles of the faith would do a lot of good for many in their walk of faith.
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The book title was intriguing to me as I am a Christian and enjoy Christian genre.  This book was actually a historical review of the Church of Christ.  This book was written On a level for a theologian. So this was way deeper than my level of understanding.  The authors obviously share their passion for their church and the history of the Stone Campbell movement which I had never heard of. The history dates back to the 1800s in early America. This book may interest people who belong to the Church  of Christ or study religions.
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I’m an avid believer in growth happening in community. So I chose this book for that reason. I had a really hard time with the language. It was a dull and slow read kind of steeped in religion. Not my cup of tea but I’m sure it serves a purpose for some.
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