Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches That Are Equipped for Spiritual Warfare. By Chuck Lawless. Grand Rapids : Kregel, 2002. 224 pp. Paper. $11.99.
Lawless eschews some of the more fanciful approaches to spiritual warfare and church growth today. His conclusion is that true spiritual warfare and church growth are accomplished by believers who are living holy lives as a result of being discipled in healthy churches (e.g., pp. 214-15). That is a biblical position which needs more attention today, to be sure.
This book doesn’t exegete passages. Lawless mentions a lot of texts and even quotes quite a few. However, almost never does he explain what the text says. He assumes the reader agrees that the texts prove his points.
He believes that the local church exists to fulfill six Es: exalt God, evangelize the world, equip believers, edify others, encounter God in prayer, and encourage one another in fellowship. Those are the titles of Chapters 3-8 (see also The Church Model chart on p. 25). While those are all things believers are called upon to do, one wonders if those are indeed “the six purposes of the local congregation” (p. 18). There is no mention here or in the book of the Lord’s Supper/communion. Baptism gets some attention (pp. 46-47, 49), but one could wonder whether sufficient attention is paid to this important discipleship issue related to the purpose of the local church.
The proclamation of God’s Word during the church service is not emphasized in this book. Rather, as is common in many churches today, most of these Es seem to be fulfilled primarily in small groups (e.g., pp. 142-43).
JOTGES readers must search long and hard in this book for a clear statement about what one must do to have eternal life. While there is a whole chapter on evangelism, and even a brief discussion of the message of evangelism, that which must be done to have eternal life is left vague. In the chapter on evangelism he implies that one is born again by deciding to follow God (p. 87) or Christ (p. 88). Yet on another occasion in that chapter he quotes Rom 5:1 which speaks of having been justified by faith (p. 94). But in another chapter he gives a model membership covenant a church might use. It starts with these words, “Having received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…” (p. 117).
There is much useful information in this book. I recommend it with some reservations.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Irving , TX