Review: The Unlikely Disciple


Book Trailer for The Unlikely Disciple

If you watch the video book trailer above, then I think you have a very good flavor of The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose.

I don’t know what you expect from this book. If you think you’ll get some genuine questions about what Christians believe and why, then you’re right. If you think that you will gain some insight as to the inner workings of Liberty University, then you’re right about that as well. If you think you are going to read a one-sided rant against Christianity, specifically the brand of Christianity taught at LU, then you’re wrong.

I appreciate Kevin Roose’s book on so many levels. I think the one quality of the book that stands out  is the honest self disclosure that comes along with the story. I suppose that’s ironic, given that he had to be incognito during his semester at the University. The Unlikely Disciple is written with a disarming genuineness, almost like a long talk with an old friend. But this friend has quite a story to tell!

Christians have a lot to learn from this book. We have a lot to learn about how others view us, and how some of our answers are received by seekers. I think we learn that there are some really neat non-Christians out there who might show some interest if we do not pounce upon them at every opportunity. I think that the church enclosed and focused on itself learns how little it has in common with the rest of the world. Finally I think we learn that the “God Divide” isn’t beyond our reach, if we can extend the hand of acceptance and friendship with those who have yet to believe.

Mr. Roose had several hurdles to overcome if he was going to pass himself off as just another evangelical student at LU. Having virtually no familiarity with Christianity, he had to learn some of the lingo (and then re-learn more current lingo once on campus). He had to come up with a salvation story that was generic enough to satisfy, but not to raise questions. And for it to be an honest accounting of life on campus, he had to dive headlong into the various activities. It appears that is exactly what he did.

the-unlikely-disciple-coverEveryone who attended a Christian college knows that you can find whatever element you want to find there. It would have been easy for Mr. Roose to find the most hypocritical students and present them as typical Liberty students – but he does not do this. I believe that he did an outstanding job of presenting the good and the bad, in both the students and leadership of the University.

Toward the end of the book (end of his semester at Liberty), I was entranced by his description of the effect of the death of Jerry Falwell on the student body. Excellent writing is characteristic of the book, but especially in that section.

As you might guess, Mr. Roose has become the center of much criticism for his undercover operation. Liberty University book store is selling the book, but with a faulty disclaimer inserted into the book. You can read about that ongoing situation as well as other critiques and reactions at the author’s blog located here – (Kevin’s Blog).

A few things I’d like to note before concluding this review.

– This book hooks you fast. When you sit down to read, you’ll find it hard to put down!

– This book contains some discussions that relate to the life and struggles of single college students. There is some sexual discussion (though not crude) and some profanity (though not strong).

If you do a search, there are several reivews of this book currently to be found on the internet. I’m glad I read it. I hope to have opportunity to read more of Mr. Roose’s writings in the future.

So, was Kevin so overcome by all the Christian influence around him that he became a Christiain during the semester? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Follow Kevin on Twitter HERE.

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Thanks for reading,


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