I’m finding a lot of material worthy of consideration in Dale Brown’s Biblical Pacifism. I’ll begin today with a rather silly sentence-quote, though:
In the Anabaptist tradition, discipleship is Christ-centered. . . .
[Well, duh. What other kind of discipleship is there?!]
Now for something much better:
Christendom for the most part has maintained that doctrines from the classical creeds are the most basic, yet the creeds neglect the life and teachings of Jesus. The Apostles’ Creed, for example, moves from affirmations about the birth of Jesus to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Peace churches emphasize the life of Jesus as a correction more than a rejection of creedal themes that proclaim Christ’s divinity. (p. 27)
I’ve often had this feeling in my gut that wanted to pay the creeds more attention, but couldn’t, and didn’t know why I couldn’t. Now I feel justified!
There are two ways Christians approach basic moral issues. One is to start with the world’s questions, while the second is to start with Christ’s questions. The first position commonly asks such questions as what would happen if all of us became pacificists? Would not Russia, China, or terrorists take over our country? For many Anabaptists, this is the wrong question. They begin by acknowledging that Christ is Lord, so they ask, What does it mean to follow Christ in this situation? How can we remain faithful to his way, even though it may lead to a cross? (p. 37)
This “asking the wrong question” thing resonates with me, because some ruttish ones in my heritage have often seemed to be asking the wrong questions and wasting a lot of good spiritual energy. Sometimes human logic is dizzying, and I can’t always say well why I’m repelled by this argument or that, but I do know that I want to stay away from something. To ask, first, what does the Lord Jesus ask of me? seems altogether right, doesn’t it? And if the answer to that question also results in my supporting something of human origin, well, then, it’ll make me some friends, too!
On the other hand, following Jesus can be rather lonely. See Mark 10:28-31.
In this passage, according to scholars, there is a certain irony in Jesus words. Those who move in ways of followership will be given a new place, a new family, and the support from new fields. That this is not to be taken as a promise of worldly blessing is made clear by Mark’s addition of “persecutions” as part of what they will gain.
Further, according to Donahue, The Theology and Setting of Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, the new family of Jesus is highlighted here: the interrelationship of household and family language with discipleship and suffering shows Mark’s understanding of community, perhaps informed by a Roman congregation in which Peter and Mark were situated before Peter’s death. All this falls in the over-arching context of the “great middle section” of Mark—8:22-10:52—which forms the transition from the Galilean ministry to the Jerusalem Passion.
There are broad, deep implications in the realization that being a Christ-follower will not be easy. We will lose out when we seriously embark on being a mathetes/talmid/disciple. And then, because of following Him into death, we will immeasurably gain.