Mere Discipleship, 2nd Edition

Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World

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"Profoundly biblical and revolutionary in its implications, this is surely the finest statement on the meaning of Christian discipleship that I have ever read."--Richard T. Hughes, Pepperdine University

In the clear and compelling fashion of C. S. Lewis's classic Mere Christianity, Lee Camp here sets forth his vision of what it means to truly follow Christ in the twenty-first century. Drawing on a sound biblical framework of what disciples believe and therefore what they should do, Camp challenges Christians to put obedience to Jesus as Lord ahead of allegiances to all earthly authorities--be they nationalistic, political, economic, or cultural. To Camp, that means loving one's enemies, not killing them; evangelizing by showing Jesus, not just talking about him; and allowing God's grace to transform one's notions of wealth. This substantially revised and expanded second edition updates examples, adds chapter introductions and summaries, and includes an extensive study guide and a reading guide.


"This is a blueprint for what would happen if Jesus's followers actually took him seriously today. Radical, passionate, uncompromising, Lee Camp's book is a gift to our churches. The inclusion of a study guide in this new edition makes it an even more valuable resource. Read this book, get others to join you, and then step back and watch the sparks fly!"--Michael Frost, coauthor of The Shaping of Things to Come

"That discipleship is a frontier issue in our day is now being widely recognized. With this book Lee Camp helps us to integrate peacemaking perspectives into what it means to be a disciple in an increasingly violent and belligerent world. This book will challenge--and enhance--prevailing views of what it means to truly follow Jesus in the twenty-first century."--Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways

"What a book. This is one of those books that you wear out carrying around, marking up, and loaning out. Camp's words are timeless, and timely. And the crazy thing is this: the church is actually ready to hear them. In post-Religious Right America, there is an entire generation that is not willing to settle for the dream of America over the dream of God. There is a hunger for a Christianity that is not just something we believe but something we live and embody, a church filled not just with believers and worshippers but with disciples. Lee Camp points us towards a Christianity that is worth believing in."--Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, coauthor of Jesus for President

"Part primer in radical discipleship, part Christian manifesto for our times, Mere Discipleship calls believers to a way of life formed by the 'costly grace' of the gospel. With humility and courage, Camp challenges cultural Christianity and offers the church a daring alternative shaped by Jesus Christ and lived out in and for the world. The study guide makes this new edition even more accessible and helpful to individuals and congregations. I enthusiastically recommend this book for everyone who is seeking a more faithful and adventurous discipleship."--Charles L. Campbell, Peter Marshall Professor of Homiletics, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Mere Discipleship is a book for our times. It provides an accessible and reliable account of the biblical Christian message, and a vital critique of the cultural captivity and far-reaching disloyalty to Christ that have so frequently disfigured the church's witness in the world since the days of Constantine. The emergence of 'Christendom' after Constantine may have made it easier than before to be a Christian. But it made it no easier, possibly even harder, to live as a true disciple of Jesus. In this lucid and immensely useful book, Lee Camp spells out what faithful discipleship requires of all who claim the name of Christ in this, the twilight of Christendom."--Christopher D. Marshall, Victoria University of Wellington

"Facing being detained by the Australian government for outreach and peace building with those listed as terrorists, I found myself asking 'How did I get here?!' Lee Camp and his book Mere Discipleship have given me the confidence to listen to the still, small voice answer 'By following me.' This book is for those who might dare to believe in a Messiah who conquers not by the sword of war, but by a towel of service. A savior who makes holy not by exclusion, but by embrace. A church which is a sign of not what went wrong, but what God wills the world to be. A cross whose offensive is not a divine demand for blood, but the divine foolishness of God's unarmed love conquering death. A gospel not fire insurance for the afterlife, but of God's reign coming 'on earth as in heaven.' In short this book is for those who long for a Christianity that looks like Christ and seeks to witness to God's dream for creation--the kingdom of God."--Jarrod McKenna, cofounder of The Peace Tree Community, founder of Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community [EPYC]

Praise for the first edition:
"I started reading Mere Discipleship as a minister and a professor, hoping to find a resource to help others. But I found that very quickly I was caught up into reading as a disciple, called again through Lee Camp's engaging writing to the way of Christ--the radical way of suffering servanthood. I highly recommend this to all who are weary of all the reductionistic approaches to Christianity and who are ready to explore what absolute allegiance to God's kingdom entails."--Mike Cope, author of One Holy Hunger

"Prayer as laughter? Surely not, but yes. Lee Camp, in this entertaining and serious book, helps us see how and why prayer sometimes can and should be a form of laughter. We can laugh because Camp helps us see that the gospel, the good news, gives us good work that is a check against the danger of taking ourselves too seriously. Drawing on the work of John Howard Yoder, Camp provides an account of discipleship that counters the widespread assumption that what it means to be a Christian is believing twenty absurd propositions before breakfast. This book will not only be a helpful introduction for those unacquainted with Yoder's work, but also for those who count themselves theologians."--Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

"Be sure you are ready for solid food before beginning Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship. You will find here nothing of America's pop religion. Nothing of what some are calling electronic soul molesters, hurling to hearth and household a gospel to 'take up your cross and relax,' or 'take up your cross and get rich.' I found myself frightened at times, yet exulting in the knowledge that I was exposing myself to tough truth about the faith I claim. An uncommon experience not to be rushed."--Will D. Campbell, author of Brother to a Dragonfly

"In this accessible yet challenging book, Lee Camp seeks nothing less than to recover for the church the language and practice of discipleship. For too long, 'discipleship' has remained an abstraction, separated from the nitty-gritty of what it means to follow the way of Jesus. Camp will have none of this. Instead, he insists that we wrestle with uncomfortable and impolite questions, daring to ask what everyday life might look like if Christians pledged ultimate allegiance to God's inbreaking kingdom rather than to the kingdoms of this world. A must-read for anyone who desires to follow the way of Jesus more faithfully."--Philip D. Kenneson, author of Life on the Vine

"What a book! Profoundly biblical and revolutionary in its implications, this is surely the finest statement on the meaning of Christian discipleship that I have ever read. If you are not prepared to have your assumptions challenged and your life turned upside down, then by all means, don't read this book."--Richard T. Hughes, Messiah College; author of Myths America Lives By

"Mere Discipleship is the best single book on Christian discipleship I've ever read. Lee Camp insightfully dismantles the Christendom paradigm of Christian living to disclose what being an authentic disciple of Jesus looks like. It's brilliant. I couldn't recommend a book more than I recommend this one!"--Gregory A. Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

The Author

  1. Lee C. Camp
    © Justin Wright Photography

    Lee C. Camp

    Lee C. Camp (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Mere Discipleship and the host of Tokens, a popular radio show based in Nashville. Camp speaks...

    Continue reading about Lee C. Camp


"A provocative (and slightly controversial!) book. . . . This book has had a major impact in evangelical circles, as well as broader Christian groups. . . . [Camp's] challenge to American Christianity is one of the most important voices in contemporary dialog. He's a prophet of sorts, and I have a clearer picture of The Jesus Way because of his writing, teaching and, most importantly, the way in which he lives his life."--Josh Graves, New Wineskins

"Often used as a college text, the updated edition adds more examples and includes extensive study and reading guides."--Christian Chronicle

"This volume is an accessibly thorough historical, theological, and practical critique of both the development of discipleship from the first century and the current condition of Western Christian discipleship as a whole. I highly recommend this for both classrooms and small groups that are looking for a resource that will spark deep, creative discussion on the topic of following Jesus in the contemporary Western world."--Casey Tygrett, Stone-Campbell Journal

Praise for the first edition:
"Advocates a Christianity based on sharing, sensible frugality, and nonviolence. This book makes an effective presentation and will appeal to clergy, theology students, and patrons of church libraries; recommended for general and specialized collections."--Richard S. Watts, Library Journal

"[Camp] has written a book that is so insightful and so penetrating that I find it difficult to know how best to portray its power to a potential readership. The book is called Mere Discipleship. While faithfully exploring the New Testament meaning of discipleship, Camp teases out the contemporary implications of that theme in ways that many readers might find both terrifying and threatening. . . . While Camp wrote this book for a wide audience, it can have special meaning for Churches of Christ. Indeed, no book has been written in the past 100 years that more powerfully builds on the Kingdom roots that nurtured this tradition for much of the 19th century."--Richard T. Hughes, Christian Chronicle

"At last, a solid book on discipleship that presents the humble, sacrificial ways of Jesus as the model for all who follow Him. Grounding his ideas in biblical study, Camp amplifies a vision of authentic discipleship. . . . Camp admirably meets the challenge of writing a book that could live up to its title, Mere Discipleship. The book merits a broad spectrum of readers willing to take the imitation of Jesus seriously."--Ted Lewis, CBA Retailers + Resources

"Challenges Christians--American Christians--to rediscover the soul of discipleship. . . . As Camp cautions his audience, 'We are not called to be the Messiah, but to follow the Messiah.' Camp's got it right: Let's follow his advice and follow Christ."--Erika Bai Siebels, Prism

"In his recent book, Mere Discipleship author Lee Camp challenge us to rethink our modern concept of discipleship and reaffirms the biblical definition of discipleship, which is choosing to be a follower of Christ. Mere Discipleship reminds us that the Christian faith is not simply a one-time decision, but a life long journey of growing into the likeness of Christ."

"Brazos Press strikes again with another wonderful book on radical Christianity. Lee Camp challenges us to be more serious disciples of Jesus Christ. . . . Don't try to pigeonhole Mere Discipleship, as it defies simple classification. . . . [Camp] will certainly challenge you as he addresses some very controversial topics. . . . Potentially explosive issues are confronted with a relatively humble and nonjudgmental approach. In the end, this book presents a powerful look at Christianity that will upset many, but which is hard to reject."--Michael Snarr, Quaker Life

"Lee Camp provides a populist introduction to John Howard Yoder's more significant work. . . . I will be recommending this book to others, particularly those seeking to begin or continue living out the radical call of Jesus in the modern world."--Justin Duckworth, Stimulus

"Camp designed this book to 'rattle cages,' including his own. He is successful. He writes as a fellow traveler on the way, not as an already arrived master. . . . There is a lot to like in this book. . . . Mere Discipleship would make a good choice for an introductory theology class. [It] adds to the growing body of materials with direct connections to Yoder's thought. Camp has provided a readable and significant twenty-first century apologetic for radical discipleship that is consistent with Anabaptist thought. Coming from outside contemporary Anabaptist traditions, this book continues another notable and exciting trend within academia."--Brinton L. Rutherford, Mennonite Quarterly Review

"Like C. S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer before him, Lee Camp is driven by a passionate commitment to the kind of Christianity that offers no shortcuts and promises, no cheap grace, but is radically demanding, fundamentally life-changing, and entirely worth living. Here is a book that was just bursting to be written. Here is Christianity built foursquare upon a developing relationship with Jesus the Christ. . . . The style is highly accessible and the treatment quite reader friendly. This book is not at all difficult to read, yet it is informative, challenging, and provocative enough for all who are looking for a clearer profile of discipleship or a sharper focus to their Christian life. . . . This is a book I would recommend for a variety of publics. It could act as a basic text for people attempting to identify discipleship historically and in the contemporary world. It could provide a useful point of departure for faith-sharing groups. And it could satisfy those who are still willing to admit that they seek 'spiritual reading.' . . . It is not only the shadow of [John Howard Yoder] or the tracks of the tradition--nor even the pen of Lee C. Camp--that shows through on every page; the author's moral authority is equally evident, and this, his first book, cries out for a second. . . . There are interesting asides, appropriate stories, and helpful suggestions. Above all, readers will be left, not simply with a clear and progressive presentation embedded in a jargon-free narrative, but also with a degree of clarity about what Christianity could be. This is good both for its faithful practitioners and for a wider world. Camp thus offers an appropriately disturbing challenge to live up to our baptismal call and to start living more like real disciples, before it is too late."--Anthony J. Gittins, Missiology

"Mere Discipleship offers a hermeneutical guide for rethinking how a biblically informed understanding of the kingdom of God shapes Christian identity. . . . The book spells out a 'Yoderian Mere Christianity.' It is well written, engaging, and accessible. Camp rightly reminds us of the Christian potential for dehumanizing activities and the urge to meld Christian identity and political structures. This is an important warning and one that the church needs to heed in the current political landscape."--Frederick D. Aquino, Restoration Quarterly