Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Your asking the wrong person

If you have ever looked through my "Latest Titles I'm Reading" link you will notice a book called DiSSIDENT DISCIPLESHIP by David Augsburger.  I really struggled to get through the first chapter, but once I did I have fell in love with a lot of his ways of communicating spiritual truths.  Today I just want to take a minute to give you a few quotes and let you ponder of the reality of their meanings.  These quotes are in the framework of what it means to be an authentic witness.

In the book Augsburger quotes Leo Tolstoy in reference to his sharp critique of the institutional church and its superficial-indeed, as he called it, fraudulent-religion:

And the meaning of fraud is merely that there are people who are beside themselves with desire to teach their religion to other people.  And why are they so anxious to teach their religion to other people?  If they had a real religion they would know that religion is the understanding of life, the relation each man establishes to God, and that consequently you cannot teach a religion, but only a counterfeit of religion.

Augsburger then goes on to tell the story of an Evangelical minister who called Amish bishop in a community near Shipshewana, Indiana. 

New to the area, the evangelical minster wanted to meet fellow Christian leaders and perhaps arrive at some understanding of their faith in relation to his fundamentalist framework.  At the end of several hours of conversation, thoroughly laced by quotations from and references to scripture by both men, the minister rose to leave then paused to ask a final-and for him, the crucial-question.  “What I really want to know”, he said, “are you saved, truly born again through a personal faith in Christ?”  “You’re asking the wrong person,” the Amish bishop replied.  “You do not ask that question of me.  You ask my neighbors, you ask my people.  Here, I will give you the names of people who have known me for years, of those who have been critical of me, or have real differences with me.  Ask them.  That is who you must ask if you want an answer to that question.”

The last quote from the book is from Jim Wallis

The Gospel message has been molded to suit an increasingly narcissistic culture.  Conversion is proclaimed as the road to self realization.  Whether through evangelical piety or liberal therapy, the role of religion is presented as a way to help us uncover our human potential-our potential for personal, social, and business success, that is.  Modern conversion brings Jesus into our lives rather than bringing us into his.  We are told Jesus is here to help us to do better than which we are already doing.  Jesus doesn’t change our lives, he improves them.  Conversion is just for ourselves, not for the world.  We ask how Jesus can fulfill our lives, not how we might serve His kingdom.

Anyway, these are just a few quotes that I found that I wanted to share. Thoughts?


  1. Can't help but think that the question, "Are you born again through a personal faith in Christ" is designed to make the other person anxious. As if to say, "Are you really born again?" or "Do you really have a personal faith in Christ?"

    It's like we're insurance salesman, asking people whether they are really ready for that class four hurricane. It's a question about fear and self loathing, rather than of grace and understanding God's love for us. Just my personal opinion.

    1. Agreed. I think it misses the point altogether and puts people in a place God didn't intend for them to be.