I’m grateful to be part of Zondervan’s Kononia blog tour on Jonathan Lunde’s new book, Following Jesus, the Servant King. I’ve agreed to read it and comment on it, so what follows is my brief review. As with all our review books, I am not compelled to give a positive review in exchange for the book.
Following Jesus is Lunde’s attempt at explaining discipleship from a biblical-covenantal point of view (hence the subtitle, A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship). In 300 pages, Lunde takes the reader through detailed discussions of obedience, faith, grace, law, and other such themes that have to do with following Christ.
The book is structured around three key questions: 1) Why should I be concerned to obey all of Jesus’ commands if I have been saved by grace? 2) What is it that Jesus demands of his disciples? and 3) How can the disciple obey Jesus’ high demand, while experiencing his “yoke” as “light” and “easy?” Thankfully there is a helpful detailed outline (with page numbers) that further explains the structure of the book – I had to use it for reference more than once since the discussions are intertwined and related.
I appreciated how Lunde rooted every part of his discussion in Scripture; this book is full of Bible texts and references. From the Pentateuch to the Prophets to the Gospels, the reader is taken through the main parts of the Bible in the discussion of discipleship. No one can say this book is a simplistic explanation of following Jesus! One thing the reader will gain as he/she goes through this book is a greater knowledge of the OT and NT.
It should be pointed out that this is a detailed book – it isn’t for a new disciple. The themes overlap to the point of confusion at times. I was expecting an easier book to be used in (perhaps) a class to teach newer Christians, but it’s not that. Following Jesus is somewhere on the reading scale between intermediate and advanced.
Another thing worth noting is that though the themes of this book (biblical theology melded with discipleship) may be “new” in the modern evangelical part of Christianity, they are not novel in the broader church world. I really don’t think this book is ground breaking or covers anything that hasn’t been covered already. I’ve read better discussions of covenant theology (dating back to Witsius around 1700) and there are better books on biblical theology (I’m thinking of Vos 100 years ago). Furthermore, the Reformed/Presbyterian Creeds and Confessions deal nicely with the tough questions of what it means for a Christian to obey the Lord out of gratitude.
To be completely honest, instead of spending the energy reading this book, I’d suggest reading the confessions I mentioned above. They give a much clearer and more concise discussion of the covenants and are more helpful in the areas of grace, justification, and Christian obedience (sanctification). While I wasn’t expecting a Reformed theological book when I read this, I do think that Lunde should have gone back beyond 100 years in his secondary resources. This book could have been much better had he interacted with at least a few earlier notable theologians on these issues. It seems as if he was working to build a wheel that has already been built, tried, and tested.
Having said all that, I’m glad I read Following Jesus. I love an intellectually robust discussion of these things, so the hours I spent in it were not wasted. This book is a good conversation partner when it comes to learning more about what it means to follow Jesus.
Again, my thanks go to Zondervan for the chance to interact with Following Jesus The Servant King.
EDIT/UPDATE: Please read the comments below for the author’s helpful interaction with my review.