I have heard much about the author, Neil T. Anderson, and have had his books Bondage Breaker and Victory Over Darkness recommended to me. While I haven’t read those books, I did have the opportunity to read his newest book, Becoming a Disciple Making Church. As someone very interested in discipleship, I was eager to read it.
My first concern was the subtitle: “A Proven Method for Growing Spiritually Mature Christians.” Claims of a “proven method” make me suspicious, as life in general and the Christian life in particular is much more than plugging into a formula.
Overall, I was quite disappointed with this book. First of all, despite the title, the book is not about discipleship. The book is about Anderson’s system for dealing with mental health and relationship issues. That is not to say these things are unrelated to discipleship, but I would never have guessed from the content of the book that he was trying to focus on discipleship.
In reality, the book is a full length advertisement for his Freedom in Christ program. While I have not gone through his program, I do have concerns. He really attempts to diminish the value of medication and counselling in dealing with mental health issues. He seems to suggest that if those who suffer with mental illness repented and realized who they were in Christ, that they would be free from mental illness. I’m all for reflecting on our identity in Christ, but I don’t see how that will heal a person of mental illness any more than would of a physical illness.
I also had some concerns about the way he uses Scripture. Here is one exchange that takes place in the book.
After sharing her story she said, “God promised prosperity and good health in 3 John 2. Why isn’t that happening?” I said, “You should finish the verse⏤’just as your soul prospers.'”
While I’m glad that Anderson corrects the woman, his correction is all wrong. Third John 2 not a promise of God for prosperity and health. It is a standard letter greeting by John that he offers to his readers. It is simply a statement of good will from one person to another.
I would have to say that I cannot recommend this book as a book on discipleship, and I especially would not recommend it for those struggling with mental illness.