One of the topics that I’m most interested in is discipleship and one of my favourite contemporary authors is Alister McGrath. So I was pretty happy when I received Alister McGrath’s Mere Discipleship. What did I think of it?
I both loved it and was disappointed.
It was a very enjoyable read. McGrath is a great writer who is able to translate good scholarship into a way that the average person can understand. Plus he is writing here about a subject that the church desperately needs to understand.
The book has three sections: 1) The Discipleship of the Mind: Five Reflections, 2) Growing in Wisdom: Four Practitioners and 3) Journeying in Hope: Four Sermons.
The first section is basically an apologetic for a thoughtful Christianity. A culture influenced by postmodernism is not the time to back down on the intellectual aspect of Christianity, it is the time to strengthen it. Including our mind in our faith will not destroy our devotion to Jesus, it will enrich it. McGrath has spent much of his Christian life working in this direction.
The second section illustrates how this played out in real lives. McGrath shares brief biographies on Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, John Stott and J.I. Packer. These Christians lived out thoughtful Christianity, a faith that was intellectually rich and spiritually vibrant. These examples are very illustrative of the depth that the Christian faith has to offer.
The final section is a collection of McGrath’s sermons. As a preacher, I appreciate the sharing of how this type of Christianity can be preached in our churches.
So what was the problem?
Mere Discipleship was just not what I expected based on the title. If you are looking for a plan on how to grow discipleship in your church, this is not the book. It may help in your own discipleship, but it really only touches on a small sliver of discipleship.
If we understand this book more as a celebration of the life of the mind for the Christian, Mere Discipleship succeeds greatly. It is a book I intend to reread over and over.