332 pages plus appendices.
This book is a serious look at the life of the Apostle Peter. It suffers, however, from a tri-focal approach which threatens to undermine it’s effectiveness as a whole. It is first a biographical approach to the life of this foundational figure in the life of Jesus Christ and the early church. It is also, however, a study of discipleship using Peter’s discipleship as a model. Finally, it is a commentary of sorts. In each of these three areas it is helpful, but in none of them is it excellent.
First, this is a serious theological work by a qualified scholar. It is thorough and credible in it’s content and approach and a worthy addition to the literature on the life of Peter the Apostle.
Second, Frederick maintains a devotional tone, keeping the growth and spiritual life of the reader in view throughout.
Third, the author, in true Fundamentalist fashion, puts the heat on the many false teachings which have arisen surrounding the Apostle Peter, most notably by the Roman Catholic Church. No parley is given to false teaching.
First, the author lays a shaky foundation for his discussion of discipleship with dubious definitions in the preface. For instance, he distinguishes between “making disciples” (evangelism) and “discipling,” which he defines as “the process of maturing believers in their faith so that they grow in Christlikeness and begin to use their gifts in the body of Christ” (p. viii). The distinction seems contrived and non-intuitive. He further compounds this weakness by using Jesus as a model for making disciples. The model is not parallel and therefore necessarily elevates man in its conclusions by giving the impression that just as Jesus made disciples of himself, we are to make disciples of ourselves (see p. 12, 53, 82, 145, etc.)!
Second, Frederick’s handling of Scripture is far too often suspect. For instance, he repeatedly attempts to fill in gaps with speculation—sometimes wild speculation—, but usually without making it clear that it is speculation.
Third, there are several points of questionable doctrine. For instance, the author’s dispensationalism causes him to argue that Jesus did not preach the gospel (p. 72ff, 153). Another instance is his citation of Hendriksen’s view of the resurrected Jesus Christ as “no longer dwelling with men as he had done before,” but rather suddenly appearing and disappearing repeatedly. This view seems to trivialise the bodily resurrection and treat the ascension as ceremonial.
While this book is a worthwhile contribution to the biographical literature on the Apostle Peter, it leaves much to be desired as a contribution to the literature on discipleship. While a serious piece of scholarly work, it is mired deeply, and theologically, in the culture and psyche of a movement that is novel in it’s theology and external in it’s focus. It is, therefore, a beneficial but mitigated contribution to the literature.
Grace to you.