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Disciplines and Life in God

Disciplines and Life in God

Kristen Johnson

on 1 October 2015

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Transcript of Disciplines and Life in God

Life in God
Matthew Myer Boulton

"...to 'come together' with God and neighbor in the ways that constitute genuine Christian life, disciples need practice. They need to cultivate the appropriate dispositions and develop the appropriate capacities. They need mentors, companions, and regular disciplines through which to learn and grow. That is, they need to train, work out, and thereby to strengthen their fitness, dexterity, and poise. After all, in carpentry or cooking or diplomacy or sport, how are excellence and gracefulness typically learned and maintained? Through practice, of course." (217)

"And yet: putting things this way means coming face-to-face with a permanent temptation, a spiritual trial for any variety of Christianity, but especially for varieties oriented toward practices. That is, bringing with it the lure of thinking that our salvation is our own work to do, our practice to practice, our feat of spiritual athleticism to accomplish through our own training, self-discipline, and exertion. ...the clear and permanent danger is that disciples themselves might conceive their sanctification as a result of their own striving and technique." (221)
"Following Calvin, then, Protestants may insist that ecclesial practices have nothing to do with justification, everything to do with human sanctification, and-most important and decisive of all-everything to do with divine agency and power. The practices I carry out do not and cannot gain me entrance into God's good graces. Rather, at best, they are in the first place already graceful divine works carried out in and through me. Thus they are not human techniques for 'getting us closer to God.' They are not little towers of Babel. Indeed, insofar as they are helpful at all, they are divine techniques-enacted in and through human beings as fully divine, fully human work-for bringing us closer to our own true humanity, which is to say, closer to the life in God for which we were made." (227)
"Each of the church's key practices is still something human beings do, but they do it neither alone nor as the act's primary agent. Rather, in and through the practice, they participate in divine work. They take part in God's body and life...we do act, but only by way of divine action. In sum, when it comes to the church's key disciplines, God provides them not once and long ago, but every day afresh, practicing them in us, through us, and with us....this radically intimate, collaborative, asymetrical agential arrangement is true of everything we do....What sets [the disciplines] apart is their function as the church's paideia, the immersive, formative program for restoring disciples to fully human life, which is to say, life lived consciously and gracefully in communion with God. " (223, 227)
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