One of the things I don’t like about buying books on line is that you really can’t flip through it (Amazon is trying) and see if it is what you are looking for in the first place. The Walk by Stephen Smallman is one of the books I wish I’d been able to flip through. It was recommended in another book about discipleship. Since he’s in the same denomination in which I serve it, unlike the book I had read, would come from a more consistently covenantal perspective. This is not to say this is a bad book, because it isn’t. It just isn’t the book I had thought it would be. I was looking for a more theoretical book that had application. This is a book intended to actually be used to disciple new and renewed followers of Jesus. I guess I should have noticed that subtitle. But I do have a good resource to recommend to those, or use with those, who want or need to be discipled. One of the strengths is the progression that he uses from basics to discipleship thru the gospel on to mission. The goal is not information accumulation, but growth in grace, sanctification into greater obedience and maturity to disciple others and join Jesus in His mission (2 Cor. 5).
“If ‘going to heaven’ is the key objective of evangelism, perhaps that begins to tell us why discipleship is viewed as optional by so many ‘converts.'”
It is a 12 lesson course that could be used in SS, or throughout a year in a small group. He has a reading plan that goes with each lesson which he refers to often (largely Mark and Romans). He also has a reading plan in an appendix that can be used afterwards. We aren’t talking a verse to proof text. These are longer chunks that coincide with the material in the chapter. They build on one another to develop the context of the larger text. It gets people reading the Bible, since this is a large part of discipleship. The basics include the question of what is a disciple, the importance of the church, reading Scripture and prayer. You can’t go very far without understanding these things. The second part explores the gospel, the call to salvation, conversion, justification, sanctification and adoption, or the gospel doctrines. He then explores gospel obedience including faith expressing itself in love, and how the gospel changes everything for a disciple. In this section, he communicates Reformed Theology. He has been greatly influenced by Jack Miller and Richard Lovelace. I count those as good things, though some are critical I’m sure. He was also influenced by the early chapters of the Bonhoefer classic The Cost of Discipleship. There is no real discipleship without obedience. There is no real evangelism without discipleship. The book is simple, which makes sense when you consider the intended audience. It isn’t simplistic. There were a couple of things I took exception to in the sense of missing an additional truth. There was no question of error, but not saying all you could say. For instance:
“Justification ties us particularly to the crucifixion of Jesus.”
I noted on the page that He was also raised for our justification. It is tied to the crucifixion AND the resurrection.
“Discipleship must begin at home.”
The third part, which is only one chapter, is disciples making disciples. I understand, he’s saying start over with someone else but I still wanted some things fleshed out more. His fictional character Titus becomes a Christian, learns to obey, and begins to bring others to faith and obedience. That is what all of us are supposed to do.