Matthew 28:19 forms one of the cardinal commands of the Christian life and is so frequently repeated that we easily forget its significance. Personally, discipleship forms the basis of our philosophy of ministry and I am convinced that it is the most critical element lacking in our churches today. Author Dann Spader sees the need to. Therefore, in the Like Jesus Series, he shares his views in the book 4 Chair Discipling.
The title says it all. Spader outlines a disciple-making process which he sees as defined by four chairs: 1) Seeker (those seeking Christ), 2) Believers (those who have actively trusted Christ as Savior), 3) Workers (those working for Christ), and 4) Trained and Reproducing (those disciples who are making disciples also). Important to note is that the author makes a key distinction between discipleship and disciple-making. The focus of this book is not merely discipleship, but disciple-making, that is the whole process a person makes from unbeliever to eventually making disciples themselves. In order to establish the principles, Spader formulates the book by first addressing some foundational principles and an overview (chapters 1-4) before spending a chapter on each of the chairs. The final three chapters address potential barriers and problems that may arise.
Dann Spader’s look upon the need for discipleship and emphasis on seeing Christians reproducing themselves is not only pleasing but biblical. Following Christ’s life, the author expounds upon the process of disciple-making. In his explanation, he does two important things. First, he lays a foundation so that readers understand the need. Second, he writes in a practical way with insightful principles for Christians to adopt in the disciple-making process. It is important to appreciate his ability to offer unique steps.
Unfortunately, the most difficult aspect is nothing minor. The author seems to take a very low view of Christ. He spends much of the book emphasizing Jesus’ humanity, even spending an entire chapter on the Kenosis theory in order to explain how Christ became human. Jesus’ humanity is not only necessary for the gospel to be true but needs to be remembered by. Christians. However, Spader focuses so much on Christ’s humanity that he diminishes Christ’s deity. His point is well-taken when he notes that many do not want to engage in disciple-making because they assume they are incapable of duplicating Christ’s work because he was God. He is correct in that this is a mere excuse, but instead of noting that God still works through humans, he simply appeals to human ability. He even reiterates several times that we can do greater things than Christ did. The result is that while his initial concerns are valid, his refutation of it goes too far.
4 Chair Discipline was a difficult book to review. The author raises some valid concerns and even orients readers towards a right goal (making disciples who make disciples). However, his overemphasis on man’s ability and Christ’s humanity raise some major concerns. His focus to take away from Christ’s deity takes away from Christ’s glory. The result is the inability to recommend the book.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it