Sunday, February 8, 2009

nominal christian blues

i have been thinking this week of the old mossback religions term, "nominal." this was a term that was tossed around back in the day to describe those who were christian "in name only." the term was a pejorative, of course, and was used by preachers to whip up devotion.

anyway, i've been troubled of late by this term because i fear, after all these years, i just might know, nominal...

take the example of jon stock, tim otto and jonathan wilson-hartgrove. they have written a book entitled, inhabiting the church, biblical wisdom for a new monasticism. in it they take several of the principles of st.benedict and show how they apply to following jesus today. and what's much more impressive is that they have done so as practitioners in a new monastic effort called the rutba house in durham north carolina.

what they, and others, have done is to intentionally come together and form a home where they can practice following jesus radically instead of nominally. that is, they follow jesus all the time and not just sunday.

the book itself is a study in how the vows of st.benedict can be applied to a small group of committed christians, living together in community in order to display community. the most poignant chapter describes how they are practicing the idea of conversion. for them it's not, "ask jesus into your heart." and while they do use more familiar terms like repentance and returning, they also use terms like turning against your own will, and joining a contrast culture, and relocation to abandoned places. i get the idea from them that conversion is a daily practice. you see, their conversion led them to relocate to a needy area of durham to plant their lives and to become part of the healing of their place. very powerful stuff.

coming on the heels of this book i delved deeper into a blog by this guy named eugene cho, who is a seattle pastor, and who with his wife donated a years salary to start a global non-poverty effort! talk about anything but nominal.

i feel very convicted today...