Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mere Discipleship

In Mere Discipleship grabs Christians by the scruff of the neck and gives them a good shaking. While American Christianity increasingly worships at the altar of convenience and ease, Camp effectively tears down the high places reserved for worship of easy believeism, and Christianity without discipleship.

Being a Christian involves more than a trip to heaven upon death, for real Christianity must move from a personal private spirituality into the realm of the real world where issues, and problems abound. Camp cuts through pop-Christianity, and drives us to a Biblical understanding of what it really means to be a Christian in todays world.

In Part One of his book Camp elucidates what real Christianity looks like. The "Constantinian Cataract" [page 21] that has impacted our view of the world is clearly delineated. Christianity is not a religion for private worship only, but rather realizes that the kingdom of God has broken in to all areas of life, political, social, and religious. As followers of Jesus Christians are pledging allegiance to a new kingdom, not following after the spoils of this world, with its promise that more power, wealth, and social standing equal success. Camp emphasizes that true Christianity is found in radical discipleship, the willingness to give up all and follow after Jesus in building the kingdom of God in our context.

In Part Two, Camp moves on to what disciples believe. With the plethora of Christian literature available today, one would think that orthodoxy would be easily accessible. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. The gospel has been reduced to a fire insurance policy, with no real relevance to life in the here and now. Camp defends the position that the gospel is the coming of the kingdom of God into this Aeon, a new period of history has been inaugurated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. For this reason, the gospel necessitates an orienting of our lives around the way of the cross, an orientation that focuses our attention on the kingdom of God. The power of Christianity is not found in the ways of the world, gaining more power and authority, and climbing the company ladder. Rather we seek to follow in the footsteps of our savior, the way of suffering and the way of love.

Camp is direct on his views of the violence that is often times espoused by "Christian" leaders. America seeks to continue it's domination through colonialism, exporting our religious convictions in a Constantinian paradigm. We have divided the world between the righteous who are with us, and the axis of evil that we must fight against. Camp is at his best when he brings the issue of worship into the conversation. As worshiping Christians we must understand that part of our acceptable form of worship is to choose to love the other in spite of their actions toward us. In this way Camp has captured the heart of Christianity, and what our posture towards the other should be.

In Part Three of his book, Camp concludes with how disciples should behave. As Christians we are to be known by our love. That love should extend to not only those we identify with, but also to those who persecute us. What good is it to love the lovable? Christianity is a radical perspective in regards to those we love. We are to worship our creator, and love both his creation and others. This involves a self sacrifice, and giving of both ourselves and our possessions to those in need.

This book will challenge your mind, and shake the foundations of what you believe real Christianity to be all about. It is an extremely helpful book in an age of easy Christianity without sacrifice.

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