Book Review: Discipleship

BLOG Discipleship

In Discipleship, A.W. Tozer reminds readers that every follower of Christ ought to be a disciple of Christ. For one to truly follow Jesus, one ought to repudiate sin and obey all of God’s commands as laid out in the Bible. In this collection of manuscripts, Tozer repeatedly speaks against easy believism which is a term used to describe one who claims to believe in Jesus but does not experience any transformational change from the power of God’s Word and His Spirit. Easy believism is commonly attributed to Tozer’s era where evangelistic crusades were rampant across North America leading scores of men and women to turn to Christ daily but without a long-term commitment to live a godly life. Of course, easy believism still exists and has always existed in church history whenever the cost of discipleship is downplayed. Tozer urges his parishioners to recognize that they either belong to Christ fully or they do not belong to Christ at all. If we are to be followers of Christ and children of God, we must take up our crosses and follow Him until the day we meet Him face to face. Tozer exhorts that true faith in Jesus requires us to resolutely refuse evil while fervently pursuing a deeper, spiritual life marked by holiness, repentance, and obedience.

I would gladly recommend this book to all Christians as it is easy to fall prey to easy believism even as we advance in our walk with God. As the apostle Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 3, many Christians remain as spiritual babies when they should be yearning to mature into spiritual adulthood. Moreover, Tozer argues that even one’s salvation is questionable given that one is not intent on growing in the faith; those who genuinely follow Christ should desire for more of Christ Himself. Tozer maintains that one who has tasted the goodness of Christ would not simply stop and meander in spiritual adolescence for the rest of their lives but would seek greater spiritual blessings that come through the daily practice of discipleship.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.

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Book Review: Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life

BLOG Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life

In Depression, Anxiety, and the Christian Life, Michael Lundy and J.I. Packer reintroduce readers to the work of Puritan pastor Richard Baxter written to help those suffering depression. Packer pens the first chapter with an overview of how Baxter specifically and the Puritans as a whole act as spiritual doctors in helping believers who were suffering from the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of depression. Packer observes that the primary aim of the Puritans is to encourage Christians in living a life of holiness permeated by the sustaining grace of God. Much of spiritual depression can be attributed to losing sight of the promises of the gospel that are made available through the work of Christ on the cross. Thus, Packer urges that pastors today have a critical role to play along with medical professionals, family, and friends, in helping Christians towards recovery. The next chapter written by Lundy focuses on the medical aspects of depression and other related psychotic illnesses along with the intriguing relevance of the directions and advice provided by Baxter who stood in as the lay physician of his town. Despite having little medical training, Baxter was called upon to attend to parishioners experiencing a wide range of issues ranging from sad thoughts due to the death of a family member to extreme psychotic disorders. The remaining two chapters and appendix are written by Baxter himself concerning his observations and directions to those suffering from depression and melancholy. Much of the spiritual advice given is invaluable to the modern Christian including constant reminders to looking beyond one’s own circumstances towards our future home in heaven and fixing our eyes on Christ in the midst of depressive thoughts. Although some of Baxter’s medical advice is outdated in light of contemporary medical science, Baxter’s pastoral heart in calming and comforting tormented souls is what is worth emulating. For example, he suggests that those who are in depression should abstain from long durations of meditation. Although meditating on God’s Word is a noble and godly act, Baxter argues that a depressed individual is in no shape to allow meditation to become an opportunity to fuel harmful, negative thoughts. The two chapters are updated by Lundy using contemporary English for the benefit of readers who may have difficulty following the antiquated English used by Baxter. Moreover, as a trained psychologist, Lundy is able to provide a professional perspective within the footnotes on the likely symptoms and treatments that Baxter is describing. Without such guidance, it would be immensely difficult for most readers to make sense of what Baxter is trying to say.  

I would recommend this book to those looking for a biblical and practical perspective on how Christians can courageously face depression. Furthermore, I believe this book is most helpful to those who want to minister to others struggling to live godly lives while under the burden of depression. Baxter prescribes excellent spiritual advice to those who feel that God has forsaken them and we would benefit greatly in heeding what he has to say to encourage those around us accordingly. One pithy saying repeatedly used by Baxter is that no sin condemns as much as one’s distaste and hatred for that often-repeated sin. In other words, so long as we are striving for godliness, we should not fall into despair but praise God for giving us the spiritual discernment and motivation to continue pursuing holiness. How many spiritually depressed Christians would be relieved to hear their pastor tell them this? Moreover, Baxter is immensely practical in his approach such as advising his parishioners to not refuse medicine when appropriately dispensed and to always keep in the company of godly, cheerful friends. In summary, this book serves as an accessible sampling of Puritan wisdom concerning how a Christian ought to live a godly life even when struggling with depression.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a review copy of this book from Crossway.