discipleship 101, the purpose driven lurch.
Discipleship has a new name: Christian formation! Well, ok, not really, but that's where the advertising is, so for a while we'll roll with it. It's probably a result of the books and discussions I've been reading, but Christian formation seems to be gaining a renewed foothold in the church. I'm very glad about this for a couple of reasons, not least of which is an expanded awareness that we are always being shaped by something, be it families, cultures, nations and ideologies. This is a profound improvement over the American Church's definition of discipleship as evangelism. And so, while everyone agrees that God calls us to become like Jesus, just how this happens is still up for grabs. Since we're trying to grapple with the issue as a church . Here's a brief overview of discipleship stuff:
Early Church Writings:
Early Church Writings:
Didache: Written sometime around the turn of the 2nd century, roughly. Didache is a book of instructions (Didache="teaching"=Διδαχή) about various things. A section about the good and bad "ways" and then some on basic spiritual instruction and still more on ministry and church structure. Amazingly, you can read the English translation (it's short!) for free here, at the Early Christian Writings page.Popular Evangelical Literature
The link takes you to the front page with a couple of translations.Shepherd of Hermas: Written in a similar period, in the 1st half of the 2nd century (100-150 a.d.), the Shepherd of Hermas was originally thought to be canonical by some church fathers. It consists of visions, commandments, and parables. The back story is that the author presents himself as a slave who purchased freedom, rose to great wealth and prominence and then lost most of it. Lots of discussion about penance in spiritual discipline way. Also available here!Imitation of Christ: Thomas à Kempis wrote this as a kind of instruction manual- a how to be holy- for convents around 1400. It is powerful, but pitched to the monastic life, it lacks a little in terms of engaging the world. It approaches not being shaped by the world by avoiding it. kind of. It is considered a Christian classic by basically everybody. And it is free, online, here!
Commission on Discipleship: I don't know who they are, but their little .pdf is a decent summary of where evangelical thought centers. It's ok, but there are some values that need discussion. I get a little nervous when Evangelical Christians start discussing multiplication and power.Philosophy/Modern Theology
Foster/Willard: Foster, in large part helped popularize "spiritual disciplines" in the last 20+ years. His book, Celebration of Discipline deals with fasting, some prayer, simplicity, and goes a long way towards a kind of training program, but I find people still feel like the "disciplines' are optional for growth, and pick and choose from amongst them. He seems more to the point for me though, in his next book on The Disciplined Life, which is about money, sex and power. This one feels like a more direct assault on worldly corruption. I should mention that his partner Willard, from the desolate place, wrote Divine Conspiracy which is fabulous.
Postmodernism: break out your coffee and emo-worship! Christian philosophers and theologians have a lot to say on the subject, even if they don't seem to produce disciples, just writings about discipleship....:P . The postmodern contribution (via Foucault, Derrida, etc) has highlighted the formative effects of the world around us in increasingly foundational ways. It has helped to make discipleship a little less individualistic, discussing even globalization , and a little less oblivious to our own assumptions.So Let me ask you: What things do you identify as formative for your discipleship?
Who's Afraid of Postmodernism: I would recommend this book to you if you are unfamiliar with modern philosophy. I took a class from the author. Nice guy, kind of so cal, kind of liturgical.
Liturgy: As a traditional way to shape our lives, liturgy certainly has consistency on its side. It puts protestants in an awkward position, but hey, the emergents like it! Anyways, here is a post on Inhabitatio Dei about the Christian Calendar as formative. It, too, makes me uncomfortable as it seems to lay a lot of weight at the feet of church structure and power as well as non-relational influence. But it is penetrating.
And as always, read everything by Ray Anderson.