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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Naked Anabaptist

A quote from Stuart Murray's fascinating book The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith (Herald Press, 2010):
Maybe we need to stop calling ourselves "Christians". Not only is the term compromised by its associations and debased by overuse, it is also rather presumptuous. Who are we to claim that we are like Christ? If others want to refer to us in this way, because they see us as Christlike, well and good - this seems to have been how the term was first used (see Acts 11:26). But maybe we need a term that is both purposeful and restrained. Maybe we should claim no more (or less) than that we are "followers of Jesus."

As followers we do not claim to have arrived at the destination, nor need we distinguish ourselves from others who are at different stages of the journey. Belonging, believing and behaving can all be interpreted as aspects of following. Churches committed to following Jesus welcome fellow travelers and unconditionally. But their ethos is one of following, learning, changing, growing, moving forward. Together, and as we reflect on the Gospels (and the rest of Scripture), we discover more of what it means to follow Jesus.
Such churches may be very good news indeed for those who need to time to work through the implications of the story of Jesus that they have encountered for the first time.  And to those who are more interested in lifestyle issues than theological beliefs. And to those who "use" journey imagery to describe their search for spiritual meaning. And to those of us who know we still have some way to go in following Jesus and are grateful for the support and encouragement of others who are on the same journey. (p.61)

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