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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Discipleship in Crisis" (Frank Viola)

AUTHOR: Frank Viola

[Free download here]

In this very provocative ebook about discipleship, Frank Viola takes a critical look at the current modes of doing discipleship in churches and gives a devastating analysis that it is in crisis. At the same time, he asserts that the discipleship models that many people are familiar with are fraught with problems. He lists a few. Firstly, it is highly guilt-driven, and while it may bring results initially, over the long run, it fails. Secondly, he observes that there is a "youthful enthusiasm" that also does not last beyond the middle age years. He even mentions Jesus beginning his ministry only at the age 30, far more than the youthful spiritual exuberance of those people in their 20s. Thirdly, and most critically, Viola attacks the seven descriptions of prayer, Bible reading, Church attending, Tithing, Witnessing, Good Works, and replication of the same methods, as inadequate, simply because they do not necessarily help one be more like Jesus. Fourthly, it is about will power which be self-reliant rather than God dependent. Fifth, quite related to the previous one, discipleship programs tend to feed from the "tree of good and evil" instead of the "tree of life." The former depends on the self to get things done while the latter is dependent on God. Sixth, Viola observes that many Christians have misunderstood following Jesus as copying his external works in the Bible rather than imitating his inner life with God. The seventh is individualism while the eighth is a lack of self-consciousness which follows the flesh rather than being led by the Spirit. The final one is about the lack of self-denial.

His solutions to the above are mentioned in free audios available referenced in the book. (You can reference them here.) Viola makes a lot of good points and this book causes me to ponder and reflect on the conventional methods and programs we have with regards to discipleship. Discipleship is lived out rather than studied. It is to be internalized and not simply externally driven. It needs to be shared with the humility of Christ, through self-denial. It needs to be learned through the taking up of our cross. It is not following any curriculum, agenda, or program list. It is about following the Person of Christ.


This book is provided to me courtesy of the author. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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