The reason it will be hard for me to ever write a book on Jesus Shaped Spirituality is I won’t be able to surpass the absolutely finest book on Jesus shaped discipleship I have ever read, David Augsburger’s Dissident Discipleship.
This is, without doubt or second guessing, one of the five finest books on what it means to be a follower of Jesus I’ve ever read. Whatever is the maximum endorsement one can give a book, I’m giving to this one, plus ten points. Dissident Discipleship is a book that you will savor almost sentence by sentence. This is must-read, disturbing, world overturning Christianity. Don’t even sit this book on the shelf near the average Christian book. It needs a shelf of its own.
Dissident Discipleship is Augsburger’s effort to write an Anabaptist spirituality text in a way that will communicate the depths and power of Anabaptist insights on Jesus and discipleship to a popular audience. I fold pages where there are major portions of a text that I want to reread. I have forty folds. I have a marking system for key passages. I’ve gotten at least 50 passages marked. Every page was exciting to read. The opening fifty pages are pure dynamite to lukewarm evangelicalism.
The book is full of secondary sources and quotes, accompanied by a large bibliography. There are extensive devotional aids and Anabaptist prayers and liturgical resources. The book is just over 200 pages in the main chapters and is organized at every point for memorization and presentation.
If you can get a Bible study or support group through this material, you will have exposed your students to a kind of Christianity that most of them will have never thought about. At every point, Augsburger is careful to make this paradigm shifting presentation an interesting read. It is a finely organized, tight presentation that preachers and teachers will love.
Rarely can I read a book and feel that Jesus would say, “Now that’s what I was talking about!,” but this book is singularly convincing as an imitation of how Jesus thought and lived, and what it means to actually follow him.
Yes, the influence of John Howard Yoder’s Politics of Jesus is everywhere in this book, and there is an apperndix summarizing Yoder’s work. But this book covers theology, community, relationships, self-image, the church and service to others. It’s a book you will be reading, quoting, pondering and rereading a year from now.
If you want to debate the usual menu of theological controversies, this isn’t your book. If you want to light a fire under your own sense of being a follower of Jesus Christ, there is no better book I can recommend.
My highest recommendation, and no one gave me a book to say that. It’s simply an amazing, explosive, Jesus shaped book.