The Meanings of Discipleship

The Meanings of Discipleship

Author Andrew Hayes & Stephen Cherry (eds.)
Publisher SCMP £35
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334060260

Discipleship is an ecclesial work: it is not a purely solitary exercise in becoming more Christlike. Of course one of the outcomes of being a disciple is to become more like Christ; however that should not be an end in itself. If, as Rachel Mann argues, discipleship is about becoming your true self, then that true self should be better equipped to live a fuller and more creative life in Christ, which must surely benefit others as well as yourself. Each chapter conveys a different picture of discipleship, which might leave an individual reader somewhat confused as to which route they should be following. Could it be discipleship as gardening, as the chapter by Sam Ewell proposes, or might a social action approach as argued by Anthony Reddie be your way forward? Perhaps this book would be best used as a group resource, for example by a parish ministry team, for whom a clearer idea about the breadth and depth of discipleship might give them a new understanding of God’s calling in their particular context.

Reviewed by MARION GRAY

Theological essays

 

Revolutionary

Revolutionary

Author Tom Holland (ed.)
Publisher SPCK £15.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9780281083336

This searching examination of ‘Who Jesus was?’ and ‘Why does he still matter?’ has ten contributors, including Holland. Some were new to me: Joan Taylor, Amy-Jill Levine, Tarif Khalidi who gives an Islamic perspective on Jesus, and Nick Spencer. More familiar were Robin Gill, Terry Eagleton, Julian Baggini and Rowan Williams. There are marvellous things to ponder in these essays, sustaining food for everyone. Passionately argued, they unsettled and at times disrupted my preconceptions. Holland’s challenge was enthusiastically accepted, in a book inviting debate. Big claims are made. ‘Jesus is the single most important figure in Western, arguably world, history’ (Spencer). From a nobody from Nazareth, Jesus becomes ‘the biggest somebody in the world’ (Taylor). The conclusion overwhelmingly is: yes, Jesus was revolutionary – for Gill in an ethical way; for Levine through the power of his stories, which illustrate the kingdom of God. The exception is Baggini who doubts Jesus’ very existence and yet finds him a genius of ambiguity in word and deed. Thanks to SPCK and to Holland for this visionary book.

Reviewed by JEREMY HARVEY

Theological essays