Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book Review: The Unlikely Disciple

I have just finished what I believe is a masterful look at the Christian faith by someone who is not a Christian. The book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose, began as an experiment. Roose would use his second semester Sophomore year as many did, studying abroad. Only his "abroad" was still in the United States.

Roose develops a plan to visit Liberty University, run by then President, Jerry Falwell as a student. He takes classes in Old and New Testament, Creation Studies, Theology, Evangelism 101, and participates in prayer groups, the church choir, and convocation every day. This is a far cry from his real Alma Mater, Brown University known for their partying image and loose morals within some circles (as he points out himself in his book).

Roose is curious about students of a Christian college. What do they learn? Do they date? Do they use Facebook? (a lot according to the references in the book) And are the students and Roose really all that different?

I recommend this book. I learned a lot about other people. I mean, I always knew the "unsaved" weren't much different than those who are saved...we're all battling daily different things. The difference between us is repentance and forgiveness of sins. I learned that skepticism can be overcome by being a decent human being. As far as salvation goes, Roose ends up respecting the faith and morality on campus and comes near to giving his own life for Christ...I really prayed it would end up that way, anyway. He's a great writer and had me thinking he might by the last page.

In all, Roose still prays for people in tough situations, reads every now and then from his Bible, and still chats with his LU friends. I like one of the things he ends with,
"I found the distance separating my two worlds all but collapsed. Having thrown off the yoke of exaggeration and half truth, I was now free to be the same guy--the exact same guy--when talking to my Liberty friends and my Brown friends alike [...] the people at Liberty were almost completely unfazed. They saw me for who I am, and even though I'm sure they're not completely happy with it--I'm guessing they'd like me to curse less and pray more--they didn't seem altogether shocked or dismayed that I was living on my own terms, at my own pace." (pg. 314)
We as followers of Jesus need to remember that we stand for truth, but need to extend grace and mercy and kindness to those who haven't arrived at the point we're at yet. Those who haven't accepted Jesus yet aren't disgusting people, they are sinners, like us, at a different phase in their journey. Support them in their success. Pray with them in their failure. Never abandon. The on campus pastor makes a great point about prayer from Oswald Chambers: "it is not so true that prayer changes things as that prayer changes me and I change things."

I won't spoil the book. I think it is a must read for anyone seeking to reach their world for Jesus. There is some minor offensive language, mostly by Liberty students (irony of all ironies). Read about visiting lecturers Dr. Gary Chapman, Karl Rove, and Sean Hannity. His friendships and the Christian girl Anna he falls in love with but doesn't want to hurt with his secret. Read about his exclusive interview with Jerry Falwell, the response on campus to the Virginia Tech shooting, and the response on campus when Falwell passes away a few days before graduation.

Ultimately Kevin is one of the classiest people from the words he chooses and how he describes his time at Liberty. If we all were able to muster that the world would be a better place and maybe even more people would find us Jesus freaks more irresistible.

Bravo, Kevin. I was hooked from page one. His website is www.kevinroose.com

Here's the YouTube video that got me interested: