The Radical Disciple

In his final book, The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling, theologian and pastor John Stott addresses what he sees as eight aspects of our calling as Christians that we often neglect.  The eight aspects include:

1) Nonconformity Stott points out that both escapism and conformism are forbidden to the Christian, and identifies the challenge of pluralism, of materialism, of ethical relativism, and of narcissism as being some of the key difficulties to Christians today in the attempt to be in the world but not of the world.

2) Christlikeness Stott rightly says that the purpose of God for the people of God is to grow in Christlikeness, but that so often we focus more on putting off sin to the exclusion of putting ON Christlikeness.  I found this section particularly convicting, especially Stott’s observation that one reason our evangelism is unsuccessful is that we don’t look like the Christ we proclaim.

3) Maturity Stott observes that superficiality is epidemic in Christian faith in our time, and challenges readers to develop maturity by cultivating a clearer, fresh, and true vision of Jesus Christ.  All Christians are called to maturity – there is no Christian elitism.

4) Creation Care This section begins with the premise that the earth is the Lord’s and that God delegated His creation to us so we should be good stewards of it.  Stott discusses the Christian perspective on nature – that we respect it and take care of it, but we do not either deify it or exploit it.  Toward the end of this section Stott goes into some discussion of overpopulation and global warming which I disagreed with – moreover I had trouble figuring out where he was going with his logic, especially on the subject of overpopulation, because it was unclear how he feels that Christians should proceed in the event that they agree that overpopulation and/or global warming are problems.  I think Stott probably should have left that bit out because it weakened his overall point.  However, the section concludes with a good reminder that Christians should own the topic of creation care as one of stewardship of the earth God entrusted to us.

5) Simplicity This section addressed the problem of materialism and included a challenging question of how should our lives be distinguished from those who make no profession of Christ?

6) Balance Stott had some good thoughts on how to balance the spiritual and the temporal parts of our lives, including building community, remembering that our citizenship is first in Heaven, then on earth, and that we are called to be servants and good citizens.

7) Dependence Here Stott considers the relationship between humiliation and humility, chasing after status, and how to reconcile independence and dependence.

8) Death Finally, Stott closes with his thoughts on death, including the metaphorical dying to self and actual physical death.

To sum up, I think The Radical Disciple is good and thought provoking, and worth reading if you enjoy John Stott’s work, are interested in theology, or like to think about how theological topics apply to daily life.

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