My Review of Hazardous by Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper

I am really excited to post this review and by saying that, the first thing I should admit is that I am hardly objective here. I’ve never pretended that this wasn’t a blog and so have embraced my subjectivity – I think the world of Ed and Derek and hope you read this book, not just because they’re great guys but it’s great book written by great guys.

Most of my time with Ed has been online interacting on Twitter, Facebook and enjoying his blog and a conversation here and there.
Derek on the other hand was one of my favorite professors at Biblical Seminary. We were introduced to him early in the LEAD Mdiv program and I’d say he was a significant shaper of our forming theological perspective over the years. I consider Derek to be the most brilliant guy I know who is younger than me – grateful to call him my friend.

And now onto the book. Hazardous tackles the great challenge of presenting the real and difficult aspects of Christian discipleship. They put their thesis front and center – following Jesus is risky. It’s a good thing they didn’t ask me for advice because I would have told them, “Hey guys, it sounds a little negative. I mean, I agree with you guys, but this sort of stuff just doesn’t jump off the shelf or the Amazon page …”

I think they would have smiled and graciously replied “We know.”

This book is excellent for at least three audiences:
First, for those tired of presentations of Christianity that are cliched and over-promise how wonderful the Christian faith is. (It is wonderful but only because faith is dangerous, not because it’s easy.)
Second, I can easily see this as a resource for adult small group/Sunday School/Adult Discipleship teachers that have already used some of the more popular resources. The content is solid and accessible and there’s a good bit to chew on here.
Third, a pastor looking for sermon material would be well-suited to create a series based on Hazardous. (Fellow pastors if you are interested, please let me know, Ed can hook you up with some additional help with this part).

Further, those who appreciate Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright and others will see their influences on Ed and Derek. In fact, they wrote it with the thought of “What could come after reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship?” So perhaps that is a fourth audience.

Among the first things I noticed is that the book is written with a timeless quality to it. There is very little interaction with pop-culture. Besides a David Bowie reference, the book is void of celebrity or brand references, etc. and though I am one who very much enjoys that intersection of faith and culture, even I found this to be refreshing.

Writing on discipleship is a difficult task. In my opinion, what we have in our evangelical community is a handful of amazing books on the topic but many others seem to fall into a couple of traps. In the author(s)’ desire to offer a “classic” work, there is that risk of coming across as a Bonhoeffer/Dallas Willard imitation. The second trap is when the author(s) don’t reference their society, they risk losing context and connection with the reader. While I always enjoy the important exercise of exegeting the culture, Ed and Derek seem more interested in exegeting Scripture and us.

Each chapter explores an element or a challenge of the discipleship (“Discipleship is Messy and Risky” or “Discipleship Involves Our Families,” or “Discipleship Requires Listening”) and examine characters and scenes in Scripture that have wrestled with the call of obedience. The chapter contain an excellent and fast-moving explanation of a Biblical passage, carefully avoids rabbit trails (you can feel the restraint), offers push-back questions consistent with the context that are legit like “Are We Going to the Same Place As Jesus?”, “What About Soldiers?”, “Should We Leave Our Jobs Behind?” and “Are We Really Hearing God?”

My one wish for the book was not knowing who wrote what chapter. I looked and looked to see if there was a mention in the intro that they would alternate chapters but never found it. It probably only matters for people like me who read with the author(s)’ voice in mind (I even make up a voice when I haven’t heard the actual. You should hear the voice I have for Martin Luther, boisterous, always shouting with a lot of inflection and beer in hand. I know it’s weird but whatever it takes to continue the discipline of reading is the idea).

Regardless, Ed and Derek have written an exceptional book on the risks of following Jesus that avoids over-promising some easy life but rather offers an intelligent, classic feel to the most central pursuit of the Christian. Hope you check it out.

You can buy it and learn more here.
Follow Ed on Twitter and check out his blog
Check out Derek’s author page on Amazon
And if you are interested in seminary, check out the place we graduated from – Biblical Seminary.


  1. Hey Tim, thanks for your review of the book. I have recently read it as well. I found it to be an incredibly powerful book in my journey of faith. Here is a recent post that I wrote about it, specifically chapter 1, and the topic of messiness of life and discipleship. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I am currently a student at Biblical in the Lead MDiv program and I feel the same way about Derek too!
    Here’s my post:

  2. Peter, sorry it’s taken me a bit to reply. Just checked out your blog – nice looking site and you got some really accessible but solid on there – nice job.
    So cool that you are serving at Liquid – what a great place – I’m a fan of Tim Lucas – fellow Jerseyboy.
    And what can we say about Biblical? I often describe it as the indie band that no one has heard of but when you listen to their music, you’re like, “Wow, so good.” That Lead program is tough, especially on Monday night but some of my best conversations happened on those late night Tuesday drives home with my carpool partner and fellow seminarian Miguel. Glad I’m done, glad I did it.

    Cool to hear how you feel about Derek – special guy. If you get a chance to meet Ed Cyz, you’ll probably connect with him too.
    Liked the questions in your post – first one is arresting:
    “Do I really want Jesus, or do I just want Him to solve my problems.” How honest should we be here?
    and “Who can I bring along on my spiritual journey?” That’s a question we need to be more intentional with. As pastors, we often simply think of those given to our pastoral care under our local church authority , but what about those in our spiritual journey – that’s a whole other world. Thanks for bringing that up.
    Hope to cross paths with you – peace.

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