Sunday, May 29, 2011

True & Better

This is 2 minutes worth coming back to again and again.

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We Have A Rich History...

...of trying to make heaven on earth here in California.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Drama, Doctrine, Doxology, Discipleship

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20
Drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship: these are the aspects of our high calling that must be integrated. Conservatives may be tempted to abstract the doctrine from its dramatic narrative, doxological practice, and discipleship. Much of evangelical worship over the past generation has focused on praise without adequate grounding in the drama, doctrine, or discipleship. And now the current emphasis on discipleship is threatened by an inadequate grounding in these other important aspects of Christian maturity. The danger is that discipleship becomes little more than spiritual exercises of moralistic activism: "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:5).

First we need to learn the drama and the doctrine. In becoming a disciple, you can't just "go." You have to submit yourself to the grammar of Christian faith and practice. This was true even for the apostles, whom Jesus instructed for forty days before his ascension. Like learning Mandarin, dance moves, baseball, or (for some of us) how to use an iPhone, becoming a Christian takes a lifetime. You have to indwell the world that these new vocabularies and practices generate. You can't really play the piano without learning the piano.

We spend our lives as believers learning the plotline and central characters of the story. Then we have to become familiar with the authoritative interpretations and implications (doctrine). Yet it is really when we are led to lament and praise that we begin to internalize the story and live into it. When we are not just imitators of the characters but actually united to the central figure in the plot, we find ourselves actually recast from our own stories about nothing into the greatest story ever told. We say (and pray and sing) our lines in the story.

This pattern of drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship is not actually followed in stages. It's not as if the first few years of our Christian life are spent only on getting the basic plot of Scripture down and the next decade is spent on the doctrine, and only then do we get around to worship and discipleship. Instead of stages, these are facets of every moment in our pilgrimage. Nevertheless, there is a certain logical order here.

Without the story, the doctrine is abstract. Without the doctrine, the story lacks meaning and significance for us. Yet if we are not led by the drama and the doctrine to mourn and dance, have we really been swept into it--experientially, not just as truth but as good news? Failing to grab our hearts, the doctrine fails to animate our hands and feet. Yet if we concentrate everything on the doxology itself, we end up trying to work ourselves into a state of perpetual praise without knowing exactly who we're praising or why. And an obsession with discipleship, apart from these other aspects, will generate a kind of mindless and eventually heartless moralism that confuses activism with the fruit of the Spirit.

It was as if a pin dropped for me when I read this today. I think Horton really hits the nail on the head in clarifying the essential elements of Christianity. When I first began following Jesus in college almost 9 years ago, what I got for those first couple of years more than anything else was discipleship that led me to a place of nearly complete burnout and shipwreck of my faith. Then about a year after I graduated from college, after that lowest point in my short life of faith, I entered into a phase where it was all about doctrine, which in turn led me to become big-headed and divisive. It has only been over the past couple of years that Jesus has graciously been helping me to begin to understand the indispensable integration of--now that Horton has given me the words--drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship in the life of following Him. Each one is exceedingly important.

For a while now, I have thought about what was missing during my early days of following Jesus in college. At first, I thought it was merely a lack of doctrine. But now I believe that it was a doxology and discipleship that--thankful as I am for them--were tremendously lacking in both drama and doctrine.

Drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship. We can't afford to neglect any of these because, where we do, our Christianity will almost certainly eventually abort.