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Andrew C. Thompson has an interesting post up on his blog entitled: Holiness and Discipleship: What’s at stake? Andrew notices the contrast between the way contemporary United Methodists talk about “discipleship” and the way the early Methodists talked about “holiness.” Today people talk about discipleship, but rarely about holiness. Early Methodists often talked about holiness, but rarely about discipleship. Are they the same thing? Are both groups referring to the same realities? Andrew thinks: yes and no.

He says:

We’re much more comfortable with the language of “discipleship.” The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Speaking in terms of becoming a disciple is something we can understand. A disciple is a role we are called to fill. It’s like the job description of someone who is living a faithful life. The word “disciple” is a concrete noun. Easy to understand.

Holiness isn’t quite like that. It’s an abstract noun. It signifies a particular kind of quality or character in a person. Holiness (in the biblical sense) isn’t a job we are supposed to take on so much as it is the disposition of someone whose life is being transformed by grace. Even so, we don’t use it very much. It just seems somehow foreign to our ears, or even old-fashioned.

And, then, he says:

My worry at times is that we want to think of discipleship the way we think of baking a cake. Put all the ingredients together in the right order and voila! there’s your product. But that only works if one of the ingredients is an encounter with the living God—something that doesn’t come from us and that we don’t control.

Self-professed Tamed Cynic Jason Micheli posted an interesting quote from David Bentley Hart’s new book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss here: God: The Most Obvious Thing of All.

I don’t think it would be helpful to take a snippet from the quote. Follow the link to read it. Hart is certainly an interesting thinker, and the book (judging from the blurb at Amazon) also looks interesting:

Ranging broadly across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, Hart explores how these great intellectual traditions treat humanity’s knowledge of the divine mysteries. Constructing his argument around three principal metaphysical “moments”—being, consciousness, and bliss—the author demonstrates an essential continuity between our fundamental experience of reality and the ultimate reality to which that experience inevitably points.

Ah! so much to read, so little time….

Over at the Ministry Matters, Shane Raynor gives us some reflections on the relationship of grace and faith: Grace and Faith: What's the Connection?

He writes:

God responds to faith, plain and simple. But we can’t get prideful, because without God taking the initiative—without grace—there would be nothing to receive, nothing to believe God for. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of us. But at the same time, God has given us ways to increase that faith. (There’s the response factor again.) So we’re responsible, to a point, for the amount of faith we have. It’s not so much a matter of what God wants to give us—often the question is, are we accessing and appropriating what God has already made available to us.

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