Making Christ Visible
MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE
Discipleship for Today
Robert M.E. PatersonA book for Christian disciples, Church leaders and people considering discipleship, with a vital message, provoking its readers to think about the revolutionary demands and consequences of Christian apprenticeship.
This book is available for download with Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device - itunes.apple.com/gh/book/making-christ-visible
In this eBook, Bishop Robert draws on 47 years of nurturing and sustaining disciples (including several years chairing the Central Readers’ Council) and cuts decisively across current debates about the various roles and status of lay people and clergy. In the first three chapters he puts the case for a renewed emphasis on discipleship and defines the proper function of the local church. The middle chapters contain study material that could be used for a course to encourage and train disciples; and the last two chapters contain a contemporary Catechism and a model of Daily Prayer. The whole book is spiked with more memorable one-liners than the reviewer can do justice to.
Paterson’s theme is that ‘Christianity does not appear on people’s radar any more’, so the challenge is to nurture disciples not merely make converts... Converts are those who have been changed; disciples change the world’. Hence the theme of the book is that ‘...it is time to put discipleship firmly onto the top of the church’s agenda because it is a more effective agent to change the world for the better’. For Paterson all Christians are disciples and Discipleship is likened to a lifelong apprenticeship under Jesus. Every chapter contains thoughtful, scholarly and in depth study of selected Bible passages, enlightened by a wide range of literature and finishing with an appropriate Collect. In the first chapter he quotes David Watson (1981): ‘The vast majority of western Christians are church-members, pew-fillers, hymn-singers, sermon tasters, Bible-readers, even born-again-believers or Spirit-filled-charismatics - but not true disciples of Jesus’.
He goes on to talk about being called and cites a whole string of people who have been called out by God, from Moses to a current teacher via Luther. ’Vocation,’ he says is used today for a call to public ministry, but actually it is only a call to discipleship’. There are different ways to evangelize today - the days of Guest services and public rallies are over, people no longer listen when we shout, and the faith is passed on when disciples join a church to worship together and learn, get involved in their local community and then go out to transform the world to peace and justice.
The middle six chapters - Called to Christ/to the Cross/to be changed/to serve/to give /to live - all highlight the theme of deepening our inner faith in worship then going out from the churches into our own communities to live a life of witness, so people are changed. People may resist this but as Paterson says, ‘When Henry Ford started producing motor cars people said to him that all they really needed was faster horses.’
Throughout is the plea for disciples to be learning about their faith as the first disciples did from Jesus and being enabled to live it in their own spheres and communities rather than being sucked into endless churchy activities that keep the institution going. Kathleen Bliss said, ‘what the laity lack is not the knowhow of successful magazine distribution, but the basic equipment in understanding what it means to be Christian.’ Finally, we are reminded that Nietzsche said, ‘I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked redeemed...’ and ‘Is the church an episcopal cloud from which all ecclesial rain falls?’
Reviewed by Christine McMullen itunes.apple.com / gh / book / making-christ-visible
The Christian Life
Are available from the CRC Office.