Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Looking for a Clothed Anabaptist

I began reading David Augsburger's Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor. Dave, now of Fuller Theological Seminary, is one of my former professors. Were I to choose the 5 people who have most influenced my spiritual life, Dave would be on the list.

He's a brilliant thinker and writer. This recent book is on Anabaptist spirituality. It's made a comeback, especially through people like Shane Claiborne. I deeply admire the true, sold-out love of the Real Jesus who brings his upside-down Kingdom view of loving one's enemies. Love them, don't shoot them. Sounds like Jesus to me. There is some very good stuff in Dave's book. I'm certain I'll be writing on some of it.

On a bit of an Anabaptist roll, I ordered The Naked Anabaptist, by Stuart Murray. The word "naked" now appears in two prominent Christian titles, the other being The Naked Gospel, which I have read. So for now "naked" is in, "clothed" is out. I'll suggest below that "clothed"is a very good thing and, in a major way, superior to naked.

Check this out: Greg Boyd writes the forward to Naked Anabaptist. Here are some things Greg says.
  • "Western civilization has entered a post-Christian age." (9)
  • "In American, Christendom's last remaining fortress, the conquest mentality of the "church militant and triumphant" is waning." (Ib.)
  • Not only is that not a bad thing, it's something celebrate. I agree.
  • "Now, having left the Egypt of Christendom, we must prepare ourselves for a long and difficult journey in the wilderness." (Ib.)
  • "There is an increasingly shared conviction that the kingdom of God we are called to is radically different from all versions of the kingdom of this world." (Ib. I now think of black theologian James Cone's writings on Jesus and the Kingdom.)
  • "While the mainstream church has, to a significant degree, unwittingly absorbed the values of intense individualism, consumerism, and materialism, more and more post-Christendom disciples in the West are becoming convinced that these values are at odds with everything Jesus was about." (10)
  • "All followers of Jesus are called to live in committed communities with one another as we together cultivate a lifestyle characterized by simplicity, humility, generosity, and a passion for jusrice." (10-11)
To all of which I say, amen. That's the Real Jesus. Or, at least half of him. That's the "naked Anabaptist" idea of Jesus which is on target and compelling. Dave Augsburger beautifully expresses this. But...

...where's the Real Jesus stuff about authority, power, healing the sick, and casting out demons? The Real Jesus instructed his followers to wait in the city until they are clothed in power from on high. I'm after this Jesus, so I'm on the lookout for a "clothed Anabaptist"; viz., one who is attached to community, lives in love even for one's enemies, is an agent of reconciliation and justice and peace, AND is clothed with power from on high in the "signs and wonders" - Book-of-Acts-authority sense. I didn't see this in Shane Claiborne's writings (and I do admire him a lot), and don't see it in Dave Augsburger's book... yet. Yet in the actual Gospels Jesus both proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God and demonstrates this with acts of redemptive power. Are there any clothed Anabaptists out there?