What is a life of radical discipleship? At root, it means we let Jesus set the agenda of our lives. We aren't selective. We don't pick and choose what is congenial and stay away from what is costly. No. He is Lord of all of life.
In the last book by the leading evangelical churchman of the twentieth century, John Stott opens up what it means at root to be a follower of Jesus. He explores eight aspects of Christian discipleship which are too often neglected and yet deserve to be taken seriously.
Here, including the last public sermon he ever preached, Stott offers wisdom gained from a lifetime of consistent Christian commitment. In addition, he poignantly reflects on his last years of life and ministry. The message is simple, classic and personal: Jesus is Lord. He calls. We follow.
- Great for reflection or discussion
The RadicalDisciple is not a how-to book but Stott’s farewell reflection on characteristics of what being a disciple of Christ means. Through the eight characteristics, non exhaustive (read other reviews for a précis), Stott weaves personal reflections and past expositions into his final farewell book, that reads more like a charge to believers to reflect on rather than an exhaustive pronouncement of what a ‘radical’ disciple is. Before reading/listening to Stott, I was sitting with a friend of mine, who happens to be an associate pastor at a local assembly, discussing the very idea of discipleship within a local church. I found it refreshing that the characteristics that we found that have been lacking in local assemblies where gently touched on and gave way to some serious reflection.
I would recommend this book to believers who want an introduction to what marks a modern disciple as we engage this global age; from interacting with post-modernity, social justice and the stewardship of creation, to the call to be Christ-like and mature believers. This would be great for personal reflection, because of its length or a great book for discussion groups where it may induce a desire to research other books that elaborate on some of the specific characteristics given by Stott.
Pros: The latter half of the book makes this book worth reading, specifically the chapters on Simplicity, Balance and Dependence. Chapter 6 titled Balance, is by far my favorite. It is an exposition of 1 Peter 2:1-17 and a great one at that. In my opinion this chapter alone is the reason why I would recommend this book to others. The flow of the book is nice, not to heavy and lean enough for the style of the book, very refreshing.
Cons: In certain sections the book is not exhaustive enough. There are other books for that, even from Stott (some other reviewers mentioned some) and I really don’t think that that was Stott’s intention behind his pen. Chapter 4 Creation-care, seemed a little hokey and dated when the topic of global warming got brought up.
Narration: Grover Gardener is awesome. Great tone, inflection and pace, not sleepy but reflective and relaxing. If Gardener had a British accent it would almost be like listening to Stott himself. I think Gardener’s voice complimented Stott’s pen.
The latter chapters; Simplicity, Balance, and Dependence are worth their weight in gold and should spawn great reflection and discussion. The length of the book is great too, under three hours. You genuinely hear Stott’s pastoral heart come through throughout this book (he is big on evangelism). I just wish there was more elaboration with some of the characteristics mentioned above. Overall I give this a three and half grade.
- Just not meant for audio
I have heard so many men and women, whom I highly respect, quote from John Stott's books that it was with great anticipation that I listened to this audio version of his book. And at first, despite the depth of thought, I readily nodded in silent agreement as I listened. However, after a few chapters I was nodding less and less and and spending more time tilting my head to the side as I paused to try and "get" what he was saying.
While much of this book is wonderful, and Biblical, his presentation is lacking greatly. I don't think this is a book that is best suited for audio digestion; it's easier to intake when given time to read a phrase, grasp it, and then move on to the next. In this audio format it moves too quickly for one to truly glean from - unless maybe they have read all his other books and are already very familiar with his thoughts. I also found that while I agreed with his outline of radical discipleship on the big picture scale, I am left not really agreeing in totality on how it fleshes out. There were parts that it sounded, to me at least, almost too radical. Because of the difficulty of reading this book via audio, I am left still unsure if it sounded too radical due to his wordy wording or because it truly is...and that will have to be decided by each individual reader.
My final thoughts are that even if I did agree 100% with everything that Stott wrote, I would still recommend other books first due to their content being easier to read and digest - Radical by David Platt being the first of those books. The quality of sound and the narration were fine, but this book and an audio format or not a marriage made in heaven!
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This review copy was provided by christianaudio.com but the opinion expressed is my own.
- Great Read
The Radical Disciple, by John Stott, is divided into 8 chapters covering different aspects of discipleship: non-conformity, Christ-likeness, maturity, creation-care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. The audio version, which was supplied to me by ChristianAudio for review, is read by Grover Gardener. In my opinion, his narration style is perfect for this type of book.
Stott does a fantastic job of articulating real abandonment in the pursuit of Christ. His chapters on non-conformity, balance, and death alone made the book worth reading. The problem with listening to an audio version is that there are so many quotable sentences that I found myself wishing for a hard copy to refer back to. Because of Stott's style, there are also sentences where a hard copy would have been useful in order to stop and dissect sentences and spend some time contemplating them.
There are two critiques I would offer for the book. 1) The chapter on creation-care seems to push the limits toward environmentalism (though it could be just my reaction to our current culture's fascination with "global warming"). He makes some good statements, and I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but the extent to which he takes the subject feels a bit too much. 2) The chapter on simplicity left me a little disappointed. He highlights materialism earlier in the book, stating that he'll deal with it more in-depth in the chapter on simplicity, but instead of some type of biblical exegesis (where Stott excels) he re-prints a statement from the International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle. Stott easily could have done so much more with that chapter.
Overall, I would recommend the book, if nothing more than for those excellent chapters I mentioned above.
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- Not Bad, But Could Have Been Better
John Stott is a name that has been well known in Christian ministry and teaching for many, many years. In The Radical Disciple, Stott addresses eight aspects of our Christian lives that he believes need to be more strongly emphasized in Christian living. These aspects include:
Stott writes with a clarity and eloquence that are not often present in our more modern, more breezy works. His use of language is solid, making the pages of this book fly by.
Stott’s handling of the Christian’s need for maturity, non-conformity, suffering, and dependence especially resonated with me. Stott, writing in his late eighties, expresses a very mature, very God-honoring understanding of death, suffering, and dependence upon others.
While I enjoyed this work in general, the middle chapters of this book were not as helpful. Stott’s calls for creation care and simplicity, while important calls in general, were not his best argued points. The author parrots the popular environmental issues of global warming, ozone layer protection, and population growth without seeming to question the findings of secular scientists. Similarly, in the chapter ron simplicity, Stott rightly argues for our need to simplify our lives in order to be able to give more, but does not offer much by way of practical help to accomplish this.
The Radical Disciple has some very important lessons for Christians to hear. In some places, Stott brings forth real gems of thought. In others, however, his ideas are not as inspiring.
I received a free download of this book as part of Christian Audio’s reviewers program. The audio version, read by Grover Gardner, is simply excellent, meeting Christian Audio’s clearly high standards.
- we do need to get radical when it comes to discipleship
I am thankful to christianaudio.com Reviewers Program for the opportunity to review this work.
The Radical Disciple
Author: John R.W. Stott
Narrator: Grover Gardner
This is the the last work The last book by the leading evangelical churchman of the 20th century, John Stott.
It seems that the current theme in Christendom is ‘radical’ and it is clear that John Stott capitalized on that title as well. Mr. Stott challenges the listener with a call to be a radical disciple (deep-rooted and whole-hearted). It is a simple, clear presentation of basics, a classic picture of what it means to follow Christ. He outlines eight ways in which we can become radical disciples and organizes the book with these eight topics.
The preface hits us hard right of the top with: Disciples or Christians?
and the conclusion brings it all together with: “You call me teacher and Lord.”
Mr. Stott does a great job of breaking all of these eight topics down for us and I found #1, 3, 6, 7 and 8 to be the most helpful chapters. Why? There is not much challenging so called ‘disciples’ today when it comes to believers who look like the world and speak for the rest of us who are trying to live holy lives. To non-conform, Stott, points out four areas in which we need to refuse to conform: pluralism, ethical relativism, materialism, and narcissism (or self-absorption). His exposition of Colossians 1:28-29 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F51001028-51001029(ESV), in chapter 3 outlines what it means to be mature, and I found his statement about the church today being one that was filled with much ‘growth but no depth’ right on time. I agree, there are many large churches but even less disciples. One can spend a few moments in Christian social networking circles and have this confirmed in a matter of moments. In chapter six, Stott exegetes 1 Peter 2:1-17 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F60002001-60002017(ESV) and brings out three areas to hold in balance: 1) Both individual discipleship and corporate fellowship, 2) Both worship and work and 3) both pilgrimage and citizenship. Chapter seven is about dependence on Christ and how we come into this world dependent and spend the rest of our time here trying to be independent to a fault with it comes to being a radical disciple. The final chapter, regarding death covers a myriad of topics regarding death, however, the time spent on the disciple dying to self in light of the Cross and God’s holiness is quite powerful and well done.
I have not read too many of John Stott’s books, however, I did read Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ and have consulted his commentaries from time to time, and I would say that this is a fantastic bookend to his lifetime of work and achievements and is worthy of recommending to all who are starting, growing, and need to be reminded in the faith. The narrator of the audio made the book well worth the time and I listened to it a couple times before writing this review. I also believe that John Stott did an excellent job of going out with a bang by challenging us with this book and I highly recommend it.
- A fitting conclusion to John Stott's ministry
In The Radical Disciple, John Stott explores some important of the aspects of discipleship he thinks have tended to be overlooked.
The book is quite a short one- less that 3 hours in audiobook format. It is not a complete guide to discipleship as some of the obvious topics are missing. Instead it takes the form of some reflections on areas and practices of discipleship he has come to consider important but neglected over his long and fruitful walk with God. Things like caring for the environment are not necessarily what you would expect out of a book on discipleship but he makes a good case for it. I found the material on the environment quite challenging. Another very interesting idea he addresses is dependence on not just God but others as well as part of our spiritual growth. In my opinion, the best of the chapters is the one on dying. His reflections on dying take on a particular weight as he is coming to the end of his life and this is the last book he is to write. The book ends with an incredibly moving goodbye to his readers.
Style wise, the book is an easy enough read, although in places he does rely a little too much on quoting theological position papers he had helped to develop.
I am not a fan of the use of “radical” in this or other books as a term to describe what should be normal Christian discipleship but the material in the book is strong enough for me to overlook it. I think this book is a fitting finale to his ministry and is a worthwhile read.
- Novel, but not Fundamental
The Radical Disciple by John Stott is more interesting because of what it says about John Stott than what it says about discipleship. Stott admits that he recognizes his time is short, and as such the topics he chose to include (and exclude) from this title tells more about what he finds important and worth saying than the content he puts forth in each chapter.
That’s not to say the chapters are lacking. They are well thought out and very biblical. However, compared to David Platt’s Radical, it is not as inspiring. Perhaps it is because Platt’s work seems more fundamental. Though environmental responsibility is important in our day and age, I don’t see it as a primary aspect of being a disciple as described in the New Testament. As a result, Stott’s work is novel, but not foundational.
The narrator, Grover Gardner, has also narrated many other books which I have listened to and reviewed before such as The Holiness of God, Desiring God, and A Sweet and Bitter Providence. His voice is both grandfatherly and professorial. Sometimes soothing, sometimes lecturing: at all times enjoyable.
If you are looking for a book on discipleship, I would recommend Radical and Radical Together. If you are looking for a book by John Stott, I’d start with The Cross of Christ and see where it takes you.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ChristianAudio as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
- The Radical Disciple by John Stott
“The Radical Disciple” is a decent book. I can't say that there is anything extraordinary within its pages. Instead, it is a solid picture of a disciple of Christ. The narrator of the audiobook, Grover Gardner, had a pleasant voice and made the book enjoyable to listen to during drives to and from work.
The religious might take this book on how to be a disciple. That would be a grave error. This book should be an aid to disciples of Christ to remember some neglected aspects of the Christian life. That being said, there are eight chapters that describe some of the “neglected aspects of our calling”. These aspects are: noncomformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. It can be said that there are many more aspects to being a disciple, but these are ones that the author views as most neglected in our day.
I would suggest this book to any Christian who wishes to have a more well-rounded view of what a disciple of Christ looks like. Do not take this book to be all that a disciple is, but use it to learn how to follow Christ in ways that you have neglected in the past.
The aspect that moved my heart the most was dependence. In a society where independence is championed, it is difficult to feel alright being dependent on another person. Independence is a result of pride and has no place in the life of a Christian. Some even pretend to be content with being dependent upon God, but refuse to be dependent upon other people. This is not true dependence, considering Christ lives in His People and expects us to live as a loving community. If you are to follow Christ, you will have to lay down your old man, and rejoice in your dependence on God and His People.
For those of us still learning Christ, this book might just show you something that you have missed in you walk with Christ.
I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.
- Valuable if at times slightly disappointing
In this ‘farewell’ work from the prominent evangelical writer John Stott, we are treated to an overview of eight topics which are explained as important parts of living the life of a radical disciple. They are:
non-conformity, Christlike-ness, maturity, care of creation, simplicity, balance, dependance and death.
The topics are well described and explained, and there is a good mix of contemporary information and biblical context. The section on non-conformity provides a good opening into the way in which Stott proposes we understand this form of discipleship, focusing on a transformative role more than just being different. There is treatment at some length of some of the activities which the author has been involved in – and whilst interesting these sit as almost self-contained sections that do not always connect well with the work as a whole. The section on simplicity failed to really get into the theological basis of the recommendations behind a life of simplicity, which would have added considerably to the reception of the ideas contained (or repeated) within it.
The sections on dependance and death are definitely worth reading, giving an insight from someone who has both seen this process lived out around him in a long ministry and who is now reaching a more dependant stage in his own life. The thoughts and the reflections are deeply considered and often profound.
I felt that, overall, the work was valuable if at times slightly disappointing. Some parts fell outside of the usually clear Gospel focus and hermeneutic of necessity that usually pervades Stott’s work and often came very close to a search for a theological justification for activities or movements which might easily be otherwise motivated. It would be hard to say that the exposition in the work is only that which both logically and necessarily flows from the scripture in question.
The copy I reviewed was in Audio format and ably read by Grover Gardner who did a really good job at maintaining interest and intelligibility throughout the 2.7h text. The copy was kindly provided by christianaudio.com.
- short read with good points
In the book The Radical Disciple author John Stott shares eight characteristics of the lifestyle of a disciple of Christ. When thinking what I would share about this book, I realized this is a rather basic book but has information that we need to remember as Christians. It's good to be reminded of the important things of life as disciples.
Some of the topics covered include nonconformity, maturity, creation care, and balance. The chapter on creation care was interesting since the environment is such a big issue it seems nowadays. The author makes the point that a wasteful lifestyle does not show worship to the Creator.
The book was read by Grover Gardner. Honestly, I did not really enjoy listening to his reading of this book.
Thank you to the christianaudio Reviewers Program for providing this audio book to me for my honest review.
- Solid but Unspectacular
At the age of 87, widely read evangelical Anglican pastor John Stott offers us his final words and (literally) lays down his pen with The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling. These are his parting thoughts as he retires from public ministry.
Stott describes "eight characteristics of a Christian discipleship that are often neglected and yet deserve to be taken seriously" (Preface). These are: nonconformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence and death.
I hate to admit it, but I didn't find most of these characteristics either radical or neglected. I only recently (winter 2010) plunged into Stott's classic of evangelical theology, The Cross of Christ. It was a stellar work from an evangelical perspective on the atonement provided through Jesus Christ. But none of these characteristics were probed with the depth of The Cross of Christ The first four characteristics are commonplace conversation pieces at least among many Christian leaders, if not Christian lay people. The latter four are, I grant, less commonplace. Those latter four could have been the entire book and merited longer treatment. Thankfully, the book is not that long and so still worth the time to read (or listen to). But I wish that Stott's publishing career ended on a stronger - or more radical? - note.
- The Need for Radical Discipleship
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café: http://jacobscafe.blogspot.com
The idea of discipleship is a hot topic right now, as is the idea of being a "radical" follower of Christ. Different people have different takes on what discipleship and radical actually mean. In what may be his last book, John Stott writes about what he has learned is the nature of a radical disciple in The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of our Calling. He addresses eight topics: nonconformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death.
Each of these topics have been discussed often ad nauseum, particularly in the social justice and missional literature. Add to that the spiritual formation works, and there was very little I heard in the book that hadn't been said elsewhere (and often said better, to be honest). It was not a bad book; it just didn't seem all that radical to me.
The lack of radicalness (is that a word?) may be because the ideas don't seem all that new or that Stott uses more formal language that fits his older British Anglican heritage. Just this reaction itself may be important for us to evaluate how we define radical. At what point do we see radical as ordinary because we are numb to it or bored with it? Do we always need to change what is radical in order to be radical? Should we always be radical?
I thought the final chapters on dependence and death, though, were particularly interesting and insightful. Stott accurately noted that most people do just about everything in their power in order to not be burdens on others. He noted that we are meant to be burdens on one another in order to foster interdependence. I've never heard anyone say that before, but I would agree.
Stott's text (or audio, as I experienced it) was not earth-shattering in my experience, but is a nice short summary of what one person sees as radical discipleship. One of the things I appreciated was that he noted that his form of discipleship may not be applicable to all people, but that we should all seek our own discipleship. That acknowledges and emphasizes the importance of personal application.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook in exchange for a review (with no obligation for a positive review).
- A great review of discipleship from a disciple at the end of his life
The Radical Disciple ends with a poignant chapter on death, similar to the last album by Johnny Cash. Both Cash and Stott know they are not long for this world and instead of hiding from it, they directly address it.. The afterward says goodbye to the reader and discusses his will and legacy. In many ways, I wish he opened with this. Because it gives more weight to the rest of the book.
However, if he started with death it might overwhelm the general theme of the book, non-conformity. That is the title of the first chapter. He is calling us to be different as Christians. Not just different from the world, but different because we were created to be like Christ. There is a good quote about the fact that we cannot live like Christ, unless we have Christ live in us. And I think that is the part that may be more counter cultural to the church than anything else in the book. We all know that we have transformed, but to really be transformed we not only have to strive after living like Christ, we have to submit to the Spirit that guides us.
The other subjects are fairly standard for a book on discipleship, Maturity, Simplicity, Balance, Dependence, (although their treatment is fairly unique). But there is one subject that is unusual in a US context. That chapter is about the responsibility of Creation Care. He carefully places our role for creation as part of our original work given in the garden and clearly separates it from worship of the creation. And he has clear biblical guidance in the chapter. But as I was glancing through the reviews on Amazon, it was the number one complaint. Readers just do not want to hear that care for creation is part of discipleship. It could be a cultural difference. While NT Wright, John Stott and a number of other authors that are outside the US include extensive writing about the role of creation care in discipleship. Almost no one inside the US does the same. My guess is that it is an attribute of the US political system where environmentalism is almost solely a Democratic party issue. But outside the US there is not a real question about the role of creation care in discipleship.
The chapter on Dependence is unique in another way. I have heard many people talk and write about being dependent on God. But I am not sure I have ever heard anyone talk about being dependent on others as part of discipleship. Stott, nearing the end of his life, and having spent years loosing faculties as a normal part of aging understand dependence. He talks about breaking his hip and needing content attention. But where it is interesting to me is where he talks about Christ as a model of dependence on others. Christ was born a baby. He was totally dependent, for food, to be cleaned, propped up, taught language, etc. Christ was fully dependent without the loss of his divinity. For us dependence is a part of the created order of life. For most people we will have a period of life where others (children or parents or others) are dependent on us. Then we will grow older and again we will depend on others for the basics of life. Stott quotes Jesus talking to Peter about growing old and being led where he does not want to go. That passage was about Peter's death in particular, but is a good example of what happens when we all age. Alzheimer's runs in my family. My grandfather is in late stages of Alzheimer's. He is mostly unaware of what is going on or of who anyone is. He is being lead where he does not want to go. But this dependence, according Stott is still part of the process of learning to follow Christ. In many ways, I think this was the most important part of the book for me. Stott asserts the proper way to view aging, and the increased dependence is joy at the opportunity to learn to follow Christ better. Often there is sadness and desire to not be a burden. He encourages the embracing of tears and sadness as part of the learning.
One thing to know about this book is that Stott quotes heavily from a number of Christian statements. These are often very important statements (on voluntary simplicity for the sake of the gospel, the importance of evangelism, etc.), but if you are like me, you tend to skip over statement to find out what Stott says about them. Luckily I was listening (one of my favorite narrators, Grover Gardner, narrates the book) and it is more work to skip over the statements than just continue. While the language of these are often formal and a bit unwieldy, they really are important documents that we would be good to read and think about and discuss.
The audiobook was provided by christianaudio.com for purposes of review.