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Just curious: What do you think of this? Struck a nerve w/ me, a good nerve, mind you; I've been thinking this for a while. But it may be the sort of thing that would bring me hell from both sets of people I care about: My old friends, whose depth of discipleship awes me, and my new ones, who made church alive for me again. My old friends might not recognize my "discipleship" these days; but my new friends may think "making disciples" is naive, arrogant, dangerous, maybe all three. The post implies says the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle of the thing I've been and the thing I may be expected to become (something I'm resisting becoming, btw, but maybe not w/ the best intentions). I don't know; I'm sorry this is a cryptic post, but I'm in a fairly solidly cryptic place these days. But maybe I'm confused b/c I'm standing in the sweet spot, and no one else seems to be exactly here.



  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Em said…

    (This is Gavin typing from Emily's computer)

    Emily and I are starting to form a nightly ritual of reading your blog before retiring for the night. Funny. Anyway, thanks for the article. Despite the fact that this dude is in somewhat of a rant, it struck a good nerve in me, as well. I am becoming less tolerant of "pop-culture Christianity." My love for liturgy and ancient practices only continues to grow. Those symbols embody truth that cannot be described. They connect me to our people - people who went before us, shaped us and actively intercede for us. The holy times and practices redeem the common-ness of life. So this tradition is not just tradition for tradition's sake. This tradition is our heritage - the very essence of our faith. Anyway, sorry for engaging in a rant of my own. But I enjoyed some of his ideas. I found myself shaking my head several times. Thanks for the post.

  • At 12:20 AM, Blogger Em said…

    side note: I would really love to comment on those that would call you naive or arrogant at the thought of making disciples, first just because no one should be describing you in such a way, second because this desire to make disciples is so close to God's own heart, and is even the great commission........I digress, and will comment on the article instead:)

    The thing I found so encouraging is that Gavin and I have recently come to the conclusion that we may be in the minority regarding our desire to be in this "sweet spot" described. I have hope that we may not be the minority, after all. Maybe this is a movement among many looking to take full advantage of this moment that is upon us! Let it be, Lord!

  • At 10:42 AM, Blogger Nate said…

    I'm not sure I understand the connection you're making between the article about mainline churches and discipleship. As a note on the subject, though, you might read Plato's Phaedrus sometime. (It's very, very short.) It contains what I would describe as a resplendent picture of a worthwhile kind of discipleship. Socrates describes himself as a midwife of ideas, helping the young men with whom he speaks deliver the truths they already have within them. This is, to my mind, a vastly preferable model to the top-down formation and imparting of truth to another person.

    It's interesting to see more an more evangelicals get fed up with the youth worship that seems to have swallowed the movement whole. My dad, as I've mentioned before, has said that it really grieves him to see what began as a mission has become a culture--and a very shallow one, at that.

    Also, his point about Christians choosing churches that don't challenge them is old, and fraught with questions. ASA has an unusually large spectrum of political beliefs; are ASA parishioners therefore being better Christians in their choice of church? Probably not, I'd say--we've chosen a different point of consensus. We may disagree politically, but we agree upon the importance and worth of the liturgy.

    There's always going to have to be some point of consensus. Even in my own private idealized church, everyone would agree about the central importance of dialectic and, because of this shared belief, could live comfortably with disagreement in other areas.

    I think that to some degree it's foolish to chide people about not seeking out challenges. Instead, we should try to convince them that some things are more important to agree about than others. Is liturgy the center to argue for? Is theology? For much of the past, there wasn't much of a divide between these two, but there certainly is now.

    Btw, Gavin, as someone amorous of the ancient, I'd point you to one of the most important poems of modernity, Correspondances, by Charles Baudelaire.


  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger Josiah said…

    sammy, you and i have discussed my desire for more liturgy and, well, pomp in church several times before. the article to which you linked struck that cord squarely.

    but as one firmly, if sometimes uncomfortably, within what folks call the evangelical camp, it does rankle to continuously be told -- by people whose churches have almost totally abrogated any sort of valid biblical exegesis and practice -- that i and other evangelicals are the ignorant ones who lack any knowledge or even awareness of theology and would be oh-so-much-better-off if we would just accept the mainline protestant knowledge.

    our "shallow, traditionless, grown up youth group religion," stretches back over the same history of creation. our ordained ministers have experienced the laying on of hands that also goes back to the disciples and our Savior.

    i know many rank-and-file evangelicals who wish to rest on the shoulders of their fathers and mothers in their continuing growth of knowledge of God. whether its a first grade school teacher reading chesterton, a banker reading origin, or whatever example, there is a thirst for and a seeking of theological acumen that is largely unknown by those who look down upon us.

    and gavin, if by "pop-culture Christianity" you mean the creation of a thin veneer of Godly acting over an otherwise unchanged and repentant heart, then i would respectfully suggest you should be wholly intolerant of it and not just becoming less tolerant of a practice that stands squarely between the grace of God and people who need it. but if you mean you are increasingly intolerant or negatively disposed toward the fact (and i would suggest it is a fact as evidenced by my own path to faith) that many who are lost are being found through preaching and ministries that you might find simple (or dare i say childlike), then i would further suggest that your intolerance runs contrary to the joy that runs through heaven each time one of these lost souls begins its re-directed journey home.

    finally, (i thought long about not adding this, but i might as well,) if it is true that Christ died for the sins of the world, then persons who choose to belong to churches who, in effect, teach that there is nothing sinful anymore (or who have created their own sins, i.e. what is understood today as "intolerance," to stand in place of the actual natural law of God), have no standing to cast aspersions on any other christian's understanding of theology. they have, in effect, abrogated the purpose for the single most awesome (and i use the term in its true meaning) display of the love, majesty, and holiness of God -- the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

    now, i understand that michael spencer's essay is suggesting that mainline churches should meet evangelicals somewhere in or past the middle in order to get them to come to mainline churches. however, what he is discussing is to my mind no less than a paradigm shift -- he is suggesting that the space-time continuum of the last fifty years of mainline protestant church practice and theology be rent asunder. he rather makes it sound equivalent to a decision to change one's socks.

    furthermore, he is not appealing to his fellow mainline protestants to change he thinks mainline theology has become skewed and no longer faithfully describes the reality of God. he is making his appeal so that the mainline churches can lengthen their membership roles.

    so anyway, you wanted my reaction -- and you got it.

    --josiah out.


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