Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blog Lesson & the Salvation/Discipleship Distinction

First, a lesson I learned from my last post. I wrote a line (this line: "...salvation, which precedes discipleship both temporally and spiritually") by which I was attempting to make a distinction between salvation and discipleship. This line was not my focus, not the main point of the post, and I did not give it much of a thought.

Here's the lesson: There is no such thing as a "throw-away line" when it is posted on the internet! The two comments and a few personal conversations I've had about the post have zeroed in on that line and challenged me to clarify the relationship between salvation and discipleship as I see it. And so a line that I saw as no more than a transition into what I really wanted to write about discipleship became the place that generated the most dialogue, and no one mentioned anything about what I saw as the main point, that discipleship is hard work.

Secondly, to clarify my own theology, I do not separate discipleship and salvation at all. The two are complexly interwoven, to be sure. I use the word "precede" to describe salvation's relationship to discipleship in order to affirm God as the initiator of the process. I believe that discipleship is a human response to God's initiation, at every point. Prior to conversion, God is at work before we are aware. Prior to justification, God makes the invitation. Prior to the journey of sanctification, God's grace is luring, inviting, calling, pulling, urging us onward. All that we do as disciples is in response to what God does to save us.

And that's what I mean by "...salvation, which precedes discipleship both temporally and spiritually." I hope that makes sense, and I thank those of you who commented online and in person for the reminder that every word counts!

Update: Also posted here.


Anonymous said...

Could your use of discipleship be compared to doing good works? Good works are not the way to salvation. Rather, good works, our striving to be faithful disciples, flow from the transforming encounter with the saving grace we find in God's act in Christ. Jim

Kansas Bob said...

"complexly interwoven"

Wll said Andy!