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Disruptive Witness

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  864 ratings  ·  207 reviews
We live in a distracted, secular age. These two trends define life in Western society today. We are increasingly addicted to habits―and devices―that distract and "buffer" us from substantive reflection and deep engagement with the world. And we live in what Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls "a secular age"―an age in which all beliefs are equally viable and real tra ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 17th 2018 by InterVarsity Press
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Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summary: Drawing on Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, Noble explores our longing for fullness in a distracted, secular age of "buffered selves," and the personal, communal and cultural practices Christians might pursue to disrupt our society's secular mindset.

When I first came across this title, I was expecting something different, a call to a form of Christian activism, a form of resistance against prevailing destructive and unjust structures. This book both isn't and is about that. Noble's analy
Breanna Chov
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read, read, read this book! Disruptive Witness is an important read- Noble walks through the impact of technology and secularism on our thinking and in our daily lives, then offers practical habits for the individual and church to counteract it. I’m am challenged to not only consider how others hide behind their buffered and shallow identity, but how I too would rather be distracted by other things than to think deeply of my sin, God, and the world. Noble’s book makes me excited to think of new ...more
Aaron Carpenter
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great continuation of Charles Taylor's thought into the posture of a truly other-worldly faith. How I wish the author would give us more, but he presents our distracted age with all its warts exposed, while offering us a way forward in our personal, church, and cultural spheres. Church leaders should experience some inner tension when considering how to maintain a witness that is truly disruptive: liturgical churches will need to think about having a witness, while attractional churches should ...more
Gina Dalfonzo
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've learned more from Alan (who I'm honored to count as a friend) than from almost any other living writer I can think of. His new book does not disappoint. It demonstrates that the problems in our culture and our thinking go deeper than we realize, and yet there is hope for Christians who want to make a difference.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lots to chew on here. What really stood out for me was Noble's observations regarding how Christian marketing techniques can make faith look like just another option amid a sea of personal choices. And the critique of VBS messaging is spot-on.
Tim Casteel
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This fall, Tim Keller tweeted re Disruptive Witness: "Best book I've read recently. No, I did not get paid, nor was I contacted to say that. I mean it."
It’s that good. This book is a must read for anyone doing ministry in America, especially for those working with young people.

Alan Noble is the first I've seen to address both phones and secularism. They are not two separate issues: secularism and distraction. And both contribute to the rampant anxiety of modern America (especially among young pe
Ryan Linkous
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alan Noble gives us a lot of digested Charles Taylor to help us think through the myth of secularism in an age of distraction.

*Hapharzard/Disorganized thoughts below*
One can mine the helpful bits out of chapters 1, 4, and 5 if you don't have much time and are interested in (1) the media ecology that continually distracts us from considering spiritual things. (4) and (5) give personal and church habits we can consider to have a "disruptive witness" in our day and age. Having never read Charles T
Joshua Ray
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How does living in a secular world where belief in Jesus is simply one option among many (seemingly) equally valid options change how we proclaim the good news of the gospel? In *Disruptive Witness*, Alan Noble draws on Charles Taylor's work to give readers the perspective to understand how our culture understands the world and then offers suggestions on how to live and worship in such a way that our gospel proclamation disrupts instead of fizzles.

Noble offers a compelling model for Christians t
Jordan Shirkman
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We live in an endlessly distracted world. We can easily push the deeper questions of life, purpose, eternity, and God to the side and jump from distraction to distraction to ignore the longings of our heart.

The Christian response cannot be to peddle the gospel as merely another option or idea, but to live and proclaim Christ and him crucified as a reality which shapes our lives.

Alan Noble perfectly identifies the issues of our age and provides criticism and solutions for living out our faith i
Erin Straza
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Are matters of faith—life and death and eternity—more important than, let's say, the latest life hack for managing your daily schedule or the latest health/diet fad? Yes, they are—but the difference grows foggy when we use the same tactics and strategies to communicate ideas of varying importance. If the gospel is the greatest treasure, the most precious reality, perhaps the manner in which we proclaim it to the world matters.

Alan Noble's Disruptive Witness speaks to this quandary, challenging r
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: discipleship
Alan Noble has an important message for the church living in the distracted buffered world of the early 21st century. He wants us to be a disruptive witness in a secular and closed society because nothing else will move people to consider the transcendent message of Christ. People are too distracted and too medicated by media and substances to dwell on the emptiness of their world and their souls. They see the message of Christ as just one of dozens of equally plausible lifestyle options availab ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book! Clearly explains how we arrived as a culture into “your truth, my truth.” I underlined and highlighted so much in the book. Will refer to it over again. I will be posting a full review on my blog. ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Wow, this was a tremendous read! Noble is a brilliant cultural exegete, able to give us insightful understandings of cultural trends that we as Christ-followers should not ignore. It is concept-heavy and not an easy read, but I appreciated the concrete examples he provides throughout so people like me can follow what he's saying.

Noble draws heavily from Charles Taylor, but does an incredible job laying out how easily distracted we have become as a culture and as a result, unable to reflect abou
Emily Smith
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zach Barnhart
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you asked twenty good men whether or not we lived in a culture that was both distracted and secular, nineteen of them would reply, Yes. We know our condition, at least in part. We know that our society is growing more “post-Christian,” and we know that technology is damaging our ability to focus and be present. It is telling when Instagram rolls out a usage tracker for the sake of its users’ mental health — the platform half-heartedly acknowledging the issue without fundamentally changing any ...more
Frank Peters
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is conceptually brilliant – (what could I possibly mean by that?). The topic the author is wrestling with should be of enormous importance to any true follower of Jesus. He rightly points out that too many churches have subconsciously bought into the anti-Christian views of secularism, where Christianity is merely one of many things one can believe. Instead, if Christianity is true (as I believe it is) then it is something that should be very disruptive in our distracted age. He then go ...more
Alexiana Fry
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: full-library
“The gospel is not a preference. It’s not another piece of flair we add to our vest. It’s something far more beautiful and disturbing. The gospel is the power to raise the dead, to proclaim the greatness of God in a fallen and confused world. To be a follower of Christ in the early twenty-first century requires a way of being in the world that resists being sucked into the numbing glare of undifferentiated preferences we choose from to define our identity.” - Alan Noble

Thankful for this beautifu
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not an easy read. It's not for people who want to leisurely read a book. It takes a lot of effort to concentrate on what he's saying and it can get a bit dry, but let me tell you, it changes your worldview. Alan Noble discusses the issues with how Christianity can be portrayed and gives simple, realistic ways to be a "disruptive" witness in this world. Instead of adding Christianity as another hobby or list to do, Alan Noble discusses how our faith should be a reflection of God's love to ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I especially appreciated chapter 5, “Disruptive Church Practices.” A refreshingly countercultural perspective on corporate worship.
James Blake
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I broke up reading this by returning to Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death and Noble hits on a lot of similar themes as Postman does although with a more direct call to action for a Christian audience. Postman spends a good chunk of his book looking at how television trivialized religion and Noble spends a lot of his book looking at how Christianity has been reshaped as just another personal preference in an ocean of cultural ideas where we all just pick and choose identities.

The opening sect
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The best strategy for addressing our society’s condition is to offer a disruptive witness at every level of life” (87).

Disruptive Witness is a thoughtful work addressing a pervasive and pernicious reality—American culture desperately needs a Gospel witness that can and will shake it from the secular lethargy driving it into greater and greater hopelessness. And for the record, the church is not immune from this difficulty.

Noble devotes the first half of the book to diagnosing the current cultur
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When we talk about our faith, we may be thinking of beliefs, ethics, and worship. But what others hear, says Alan Noble, is our preferences. They see these as lifestyle choices we use to craft an identity—like jerseys of our favorite sports team, our vegetarian diet, or volunteering to tutor.

What makes engaging others about religion even more difficult is our culture of distraction. Social media, entertainment, busy schedules and more all keep us from reflecting on ideas, on substantive issues,
Wes Smith
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Disruptive Witness does a fantastic job both helping us understand the culture we live in and how do speak the truth of Christianity in the midst of it. The first half of the book looks at how we have a distracted and “buffered” culture. We are distracted by our technology and that leads us to be buffered from thinking of bigger questions of existence and meaning. It leads us to look for identity within us instead of looking outward to God. The last half of the book talks about specific habits w ...more
Jordan Brown
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We live in a distracted age where we have distractions from our distractions (i.e. scrolling through social media while watching TV). We also live in a secular age where we are told to look inward to find our own meaning and truth. This combination has resulted in thin belief where it’s easy to pick and choose identities and beliefs that fit into your preferred lifestyle even if some of them contradict each other. It has most disturbingly uprooted deep and honest reflection.

A focus inward in an
Jordan J. Andlovec
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Working through Charles Taylor's analysis of secularism, Alan Noble invites us into a much-needed conversation, namely; in a world of constant noise, does how we share the gospel sound any different than the endless barrage of messages and choices that surround us every day? Does the good news of Christ just sound like another consumer preference, like what kind of yogurt we buy or what political party we vote for?

This is a must-read book for those doing the work of disciple-making, a new evang
Samuel Kassing
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This short book is a quality work. Alan Noble does an excellent job of bringing Charles Taylor (a Catholic Philosopher) insights to bear on why many in the west struggle to believe in God.

He competently shows why technological distractions and secularism are deadly poisons against belief.

I’ll be chewing on his distinction between thick and thin belief for a while.

It’s worth noting that the title of the book is “Disruptive Witness”, not “Disruptive Evangelism”. I don’t say that as a critique.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of interesting thoughts on secularism and modern distraction culture. Noble leans pretty heavily on other authors (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith...), reworking their material with some of his own ideas and a Christian perspective. Oddly, the first part ("A Distracted, Secular Age") was more enlightening and convicting as well as interesting than the application-points second part ("Bearing a Disruptive Witness"). On the whole, it left me with some areas to consider and some habits to ch ...more
Jacob Gubbrud
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The challenge facing us today is not so much the temptation to be relevant to the point that we lose the gospel, but the tendency to unknowingly accept a secular understanding of our faith while believing that we are boldly declaring the gospel."

Very convicting book with a provocative perspective on challenges and opportunities of living a Christian life in the 21st century.
Timothy Cain
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. The first half which describes the distracted, secular age that we live in was especially insightful and convicting. I liked the first half of the book slightly more than the second half. In the second half I appreciated his chapter on disruptive cultural participation the most. If you have read much of James K. Smith than chapter 5 will be familiar since it basically rehashes what I have read of him.
Overall I appreciated this book.
Damon Hawkins
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not sure if I totally agree with every point, but this is definitely a compelling work. Very well written. Well worth reading.
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Dr. O. Alan Noble is Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University, editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, and author of numerous articles.

In his youth, Alan lived in Lancaster, CA, where he was very homeschooled by his mother. At 16, he finished high school and began attending Antelope Valley College, pursuing a certificate in music which he earned but never filled out the pa

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“Why does our avoidance of slow, careful introspection matter? The gospel is cognitively costly. It upsets our innate and cultivated assumptions about power and guilt and existential validation. It presses down on our values and hopes. It decenters our perception of the world. Life ceases to be our story and is revealed to be his redemptive story of glory and love. It convicts us of our sins. It reveals our disordered desires and reforms them into Christ’s image. Paul urges his readers to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and that renewal is the proper work of the Spirit through the gospel. The kind of work the gospel does in our lives tasks our minds with unsettling assumptions and habits.” 3 likes
“The gospel is not a preference. It’s not another piece of flair we add to our vest. It’s something far more beautiful and disturbing. The gospel is the power to raise the dead, to proclaim the greatness of God in a fallen and confused world.” 2 likes
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