Monday, October 26, 2009

95 Theses for the American Church, Part 1: Discipleship

It's that time of year again. That's right: Reformation Day approacheth. :-) Starting today and ending Friday I'm going to reprint a series I did last year at this time, my 95 Theses for the American Church.

I am fully aware of the arrogance inherent in offering my own 95 theses. But it's not like I haven't been nailing this stuff to the door of my blogs for several years.

19 a day for the next five days, each (more or less) on a different area of focus.

On the Discipleship of the Individual Christian

1. God saves us as individuals, but he does not save us to an individual faith.

2. The Christian's faith may be personal, but it should not be private.

3. Life is not about us.

4. The Church is not supposed to be about us.

5. The American Christian takes for granted the convenience of the availability of God's revelation in the Holy Scriptures.

6. When a Christian abandons the discipline of the study of Scripture, he spites and dishonors the men and women who toiled, sacrificed, and died to increase the availability of God's written word.

7. Moreover, when a Christian doesn't read Scripture, he spites and dishonors God who graciously reveals himself to us in and through it.

8. The Christian who does not devote himself to Scripture but yet expresses frustration over not hearing "God's will for my life" is either confused or stupid.

9. The Christian who devotes himself to Scripture in order to achieve a knowledge that puffs up is storing up a harsh rebuke from the Holy Spirit.

10. The aim of devotion to Scripture is our transformation, not merely our information.

11. The American Christian and the churches that train him are adherents to the syncretism of biblical values and the self-idolatry of consumer culture.

12. This syncretism is suffocating the discipleship culture of our churches, which are mostly predicated on therapeutic gospels and self-help which make do not glorify God and which make the disciple the center of Christian faith rather than Christ.

13. The American Christian is often offended by or secretive about the message of the gospel, which puts him dangerously in league with those who find the message foolish and are perishing.

14. The Christian in the American Christian ought to affirm and embrace the cost of discipleship, but the American in the American Christian hesitates to deny himself because Self is his highest value.

15. The modern disciple is currently being spiritually deformed by leaders in the Church who do not make that which is "of first importance" the most important thing.

16. The modern disciple compartmentalizes his life and does not realize that even a large compartment for "faith" or "church" or "God" is not healthy discipleship. The American Christian's schedule and routines reflect he believes his days belong to himself and not to God.

17. The American Christian finds Jesus' command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent.

18. The American Christian has forgotten how to pray.

19. Discipleship is best cultivated in the active participation in and contribution to the culture of a gospel-embracing Christian community.

(Tomorrow: 19 theses on community.)


Dan said...

I am interested in how the rest of this thesis goes. I've been humbled by your list. It's quite powerful. Number 13 hurt the most and the Holy Spirit jabbed me as I read it.

I'm not supposed to be ashamed of the Gospel...

Bernie Anderson said...

Your post grabbed my attention to the point that checked out the entire 95 thesis from last year's post. Awesome stuff. Well thought out. Convicting. An I am most appreciative of your voice.

I wish I had known you when I pastored down in Franklin. Would like to have hung out. I'm loving what you're doing.

I'll be passing this along to others. You're right on target, my friend.