Monday, January 30, 2006

What Does It Mean to Endure?

We are admonished in Scripture “to endure.” But what does endurance look like? Your answer will depend partly on your view of the world and the nature of sin. Your view of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus will define “endurance,” as well as your future expectations for the fulfilment of the plan of God.

I’ve been thinking about endurance from three categorical positions. In order to draw out distinctions, I have described the more extreme elements of these religious positions, so the reader should understand my usage and be careful not to take offense.

1. Fundamentalism
a. the world is evil and headed for hell
b. separation and isolation are marks of discipleship
c. evangelism is quick and pointed, like a tract (black and white; get in and out quickly)
d. often leads to self-righteousness and hatefulness, since a key fundamentalist skill is pointing out evil and error. Because of the priority of separation, this is a religion that is largely invisible to and misunderstood by the world
e. endurance means being different, and staying different

2. Liberalism
a. the world is basically good, and, incrementally, becoming more heavenly
b. social actions are the marks of discipleship
c. evangelism is love in deed, and non-judgmental (many moral issues are psychologized, except, of course, judgmentalism)
d. often leads to a religion that makes no difference, since it looks exactly like the world
e. endurance means continuing to love and share, to be continually more open-minded and ultimately a-moral

3. Evangelicalism
a. the world is both good, as created by God, and evil, as fallen
b. there is a pattern of both separation from the world, and engagement with the world; our lives in the world are filled with both attachments and detachments in ways that often lead to painful decisions. The mark of discipleship is being a follower/learner of Jesus as guided by Word and Spirit.
c. evangelism is an invitation to an impossibility – to die in order to live; to join a new family; to step into a new humanity that has a divine history and an eternal destiny
d. often leads to waywardness, since the paradoxical nature of the Christian life and the Church can only be discerned spiritually – and if the Word is not obeyed, and the Spirit is not present and active, then this religion becomes only pretense and play-acting
e. endurance, then, means living lives of obedience, sensitive to the leading of the Spirit so as to be guided through the difficult decisions of service and sacrifice the call for dying to sin and self in order to live to God.


DNance said...

Good evening Steve

How is endurance tied into your three positions? My first thought of what it means to endure was:

Romans 5:3
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.

swayz said...

Dan -
endure for the fundamentalist means to stay separate and pure
endure for the liberal means to love, share, and whatever you do, don't judge
endure for the evangelical means to walk that fine line of obedience to the Word, guided and applied by the Spirit, in ways that call for self-denial and sacrifice
I think the first two kinds of endurance are flawed, and that the last kind is rare