Sunday, January 21, 2007

Re-discovering the Theology of Christian Practices

Christian practices are patterns of cooperative human activity in which life together takes shape over time in response to the Word and work of Christ. Thus, our practices are a conversation between our actions and beliefs, and are a balance between being and doing. However, Christian practices must not be mistaken for duties, but rather patterns of communal action that create openings in our lives where the grace, mercy, and presence of God may be made known to us. They are places where the power of God is experienced. Wesley calls such practices a means of grace, which helps us live out a life that is holy. Therefore, in the end, Christian practices are forms of participation in the practice of God.

In the coming weeks we will look at the theology of some of these Christian practices (and their deformation), such as hospitality, truth telling, confession, promise keeping, fidelity, gratitude, and so forth.

For Further Thought:
1. How would you (or your local church) define Christian Practices?
2. Are there certain practices that should be more emphasized than others?
3. What practices would you add to the list above?


(Notes taken from: Craig Dykstra-practicingourfaith.org, Volf-Practicing Theology, and Pohl-Making Room)

4 comments:

kerry said...

The examples you give seem to focus on the horizontal dimension: Christian practices in our relations with other people. Am I right? Why else would we not include prayer?

Summers said...

Thanks for the response, and I totally agree that prayer is an important practice of our Christian faith. Yet, the premise of the post is to re-introduce Christian practices that for some time have been neglected and overlooked by the evangelical church and, unfortunately, have been expressed and taught with an individualistic tone.
Moreover, I do believe that the examples given do not just focus on the horizontal dimension, nor do I believe that prayer is just a vertical dimension. This misconception is one reason for the post. Hospitality, fidelity, etc., are as vertical as they are horizontal, and no less important than the practice of prayer, and the like. Therefore, in looking at the theology of these practices, we will see how the vertical and the horizontal intersect, bringing about true communion with God and man.

-J-

Keys said...

-J- your definition of Christian Practices really models and embodies the old saying; “One cannot call God their Father without calling the Church their Mother.” There is a deep connection between our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Francis Schaeffer even goes as far to say, “Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful – Christian community is the final apologetic.” If the horizontal dimension is dead or dying, ones vertical is surely to follow. J you take us to the other side of the coin, which we as Wesleyans often over look.

Eric said...

I'm looking forward to reading the posts to come. I agree that these practices in community have been negelected by us in the past and I, for one, want to see them emphasized again even though my personality is uncomfortable with some of them. I resonate with your response about these practices not just being horizontal as opposed to vertical. I don't believe that these dimensions are opposed to each other at all but work in unison with each other. Great post and I look forward to hear the rest.