The apostle Peter was called from his fishing boat to become a “fisher of men”. Little did he know that the call to “follow me” meant that he would spend the majority of his remaining life as a cultural transplant in foreign lands.
Two thousand years later, cultural transplants from three different continents have been called by God to live as spiritual exiles. “Revival Through Restoration: An Unusual Call to Christian Discipleship” shares these men’s common commitment to restoring not just the letter, but the spirit of early Christianity.
The contributors are Benny Tabalujan, an Asian Australian who lives in Melbourne; Steve Wilson, who grew up in Sydney, Australia, met his wife in Florida, worked with churches in Tasmania and lives in Brisbane; and Allen McNicol, a Queenslander who studied at Abilene Christian University, Yale and Vanderbilt and who is a long-time resident of Austin, Texas. Each of these Australians has served as an elder in a Church of Christ and knows what it means to be “sojourners and exiles”.
The book questions “what a return to the ways and ethics of Jesus and his early followers may look like in our day,” the authors write. Their main topics are renewal through restoration, being in Christ, living as the people of God, and engaging in the world. The book calls us to restore the spirit of the early church by restoring a Christian spirit of discipleship in our personal relationships, in our spiritual communities, and in our relationships in the world.
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Tabalujan writes two chapters on each of the four topics, followed by responses from McNicol and Wilson. Part Three concludes with a thoughtful discussion by scholar Everett Ferguson of the identity of the Churches of Christ, extending the discussion to the communal aspect of disciples living as the people of God.
The book is well written and easy to read, flowing like a spiritual Socratic dialogue between friends from three different generations. Each author brings reflections on the four discipleship topics from their distinctive spiritual and cultural perspective.
One of the unique scenarios in this book is a reflection of spiritual and cultural transplants that have lived on three different continents. Each author shares a common commitment to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “follow me” in our generation.
Peter would be happy to know that, 2,000 years later, these travelers would be writing in a similar spirit to his book. Each of these authors calls spiritual exiles to the true spirit of discipleship. They challenge their readers to truly “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15).
DALE HARTMAN and his family spent twelve years as missionaries in Sydney, Australia, before returning to Oklahoma to serve as minister of Eastside Church of Christ in Midwest City, Okla., in 1991. He is now on the staff of the North MacArthur Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.
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