“Disciples tithe to God. Consumers pay for services.”

That’s just one of the compelling observations by Alan and Debra Hirsch in their book Untamed. Alan is known for his significant contributions to the missional movement. As it turns out, his wife, Debra, is as intentional about her sentness as her hubby is.

I actually finished this book a couple of months ago. Keeping up to date with my Goodreads thingy on the right of this blog page hasn’t been one of my strong suits. I’ll try to do better before that becomes a New Year’s resolution for 2013. (Now I just have to remember my password to update it).

When I first started reading Alan Hirsch I was frustrated. Others who read The Shaping of Things To Come in a group I was in felt the same way. I agreed with much of what he wrote, but I sharply disagreed with some of it. But, I kept reading because I knew it would stretch me. And it did. Much of my difficulty had been with my inability to see clearly through my church-tainted vision. The Hirsch’s will challenge your concept of what it means to live for Jesus Christ.

For instance, they write that “ordination is demonic.” That doesn’t mean that people who are ordained are actually spawns of Satan. Their point is that it separates the professional ministers from the “novice” ones. It gives Christians an excuse to not do as well or to assume less responsibility because of their perceived lower spiritual status. Also, Debra tells of her life as a homosexual before coming to Christ. One of her passions is for people who are rejected by the church because of the same struggle. Feel like you could be stretched yet?

Here’s another crazy comment in the book: Discipleship can begin before conversion. If discipleship is learning and becoming like Jesus, I suppose it’s possible that people who are discovering more about Jesus before they take the plunge are more adequately described as his disciples than people who have been baptized but aren’t actively pursuing Jesus-living. The authors point out that some scholars question whether some of the disciples were saved before Jesus’ resurrection. Still not convinced about the authors’ ability to get at hard-hitting topics?

In line with the title of the book, a strong point is made near the end of it. Religion gets in the way because it’s our way of controlling the discipleship process. We make the journey formulaic, but knowing Jesus is very personal. Our job a Christians bringing others along in the faith isn’t to map out their journey for them but to encourage them as they discover it for themselves. This is a telling comment: “The more religious we get, the more exclusive we become.”

Don’t let the title fool you. Untamed doesn’t mean spiritual anarchy. Quite the opposite. The authors show that less faith in the religious establishment and more faith (requiring personal responsibility) in the Holy Spirit to move us in great ways through his Word will give us the most genuine Christian experience.

Great book, if you’re willing to be stretched.


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