Tag Archives: discipleship

The Goal of Our Instruction Is Love

(From Dave Black Online, June 27, 2017. Used by permission.)

8:12 AM Did you know that students at the College of Charleston can take a class called Sport Physiology and Marathon Training? Bet you’ll never guess what the final exam is. You guessed exactly right. Running a marathon. I ask you humbly: How can students take “New Testament” and remain overfed, arrogant, and unconcerned? The U.S. spends more on trash bags than almost half the world spends on all goods combined. This helps me better understand Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim. 1:5: “The goal of our instruction is love.” I like how The Message puts it: “The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love — love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.”

I’m finally beginning to connect the dots. As an old Scottish proverb puts it: “Greek, Hebrew, and Latin have their proper place, but it’s not at head of the cross where Pilate put them, but at the foot of the cross in humble service to Jesus.” God is requiring from our New Testament students obedience. Not the kind that is little more than an hour of inconvenience on Sunday morning. The next time there’s a Run for Nepal — a 5K race in Morrisville, NC dedicated to raising funds to rebuild that country after its devastating 2013 earthquake — I hope hundreds of born-again Jesus freaks will sign up with me. “Broken and poured out for you” is the way Jesus, I think, would put it. Jesus left heaven to come to the foulest place in the universe only to be betrayed by His own. When His followers are asked to do the same thing, they can only hear and obey (hearken). I once asked God to send me to a closed country. I knew it was a dangerous prayer. But I meant it. And He answered. At the very same time, it was glaringly obvious to anyone who took the time to notice that my stateside priorities were far more about me and my scholarly reputation than about God and other people. Richard Rohr writes that “… power, prestige, and possessions are the three things that prevent us from recognizing the reign of God….” (Simplicity, p. 56). The pattern of ascent is so ingrained in our circles that it may be physically painful for some of us to reject it. But if I am to “take the lowest place” (Luke 14:10), I’ll need to get off my high horse.

τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη.

I hate this kind of simplicity. I hate asking to be countercultural, even as an academic. But that’s where I am, folks. I am so over upward mobility. I’m ready to join to Jesus at the bottom. And ask my dear students to do the same.

How Can You Go On?

From Dave Black Online:

9:55 AM This post is for anyone who is going through a tough time. Last night I finished reading Sears’ book Gettysburg. Again, I was dumbfounded when I read about Pickett’s Charge. How could soldiers make such a charge? What can propel a man forward against such great odds?

Take the struggle you’re currently facing. “How can I go on? How can I make it? Just look at the odds!”

Continue reading How Can You Go On?

Christian America?

Andrew Thompson at GenXRising has written about the idea of Christian America and recent studies that suggest we’re becoming less Christian.

The post and the entire comment thread are worth reading, but let me quote the following:

The gist of it is this: There never was such a thing as ‘Christian America.’ And the Christians in America shouldn’t worry about that.

There cannot be such a ‘Christian America,’ in fact, because citizenship and discipleship can never be synonymous terms. Christians owe an allegiance to Jesus Christ above the allegiance to the nation. And that means that a Christian’s primary frame of social reference is not society at large but rather the church.

Dave Black, author of the forthcoming book for which this site is named, commented in the thread:

I’m enjoying this thread, Andrew. If I understand the New Testament correctly, the church is to take on a nonconformist and prophetic identity over against the structures of the world. This is not to say that I am unconcerned about politics or about the improvement of society through legislation. Such improvements are, however, questionable if they proceed from an assumption that they will issue in a Christian America. My concern is that the church be the church, and to do that it must proclaim victory not through a political agenda but through the Christian Gospel. The Christianity of the New Testament presents not simply a more demanding ethic but rather a cross that means the death of our desire for prosperity and power. I therefore view my participation in the culture wars not in terms of calling for a macro-political utopia but in terms of the church’s calling to be the conscience and critic of culture. I’ve tried to make this point in my forthcoming book, The Jesus Paradigm.

http://www.energionpubs.com/ep_detail.php?sku=1893729567

In our foreign policy America must use its military power reasonably and with a scrupulous concern for peace. A superpatriotism that calls for unfettered power is both un-American and un-Christian in my opinion.

I would in turn link this to my own post asking just how often our answer to any question or solution to any problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I certainly hope this discussion will grow in the blogosphere.

Welcome and Open Discussion

The Jesus Paradigm web site is designed specifically to help carry out the mission of the book by the same name.

What do I mean when I say that this book has a mission?  It’s simple.  It’s author wrote it in fulfillment of the gospel commission.  I’m publishing it for the same reason.

There are many things that get written about a book as it is released.  There are press releases, a catalog page, reviews, and commentary.  But this site is different from all of them.  Everything here is about this book and what it means for Christians.  I believe that Dr. Black has presented some material that we, as Christians, need to hear.  I want it discussed.  I hope and pray that it will be lived as well.

So watch this space for more as we approach the release date of July 20, 2009.  You’ll see the theme change as the cover design matures.  You’ll see announcements about the advance copies.  I sincerely hope you’ll see challenging discussion of the concepts this book presents.

But you’ll only keep up if you check back regularly!

In the comment thread to this post, feel free to discuss this book openly, honestly, and courteously.

–Henry Neufeld, Energion Publications