As I have been back working in the church for the past year, one of the things that keeps coming up in conversations is discipleship. It is one of those words that can be said by any number of Christians and have a very different meaning each time it may be said. Admittedly, it is yet again because of my friendship with Don Schiewer that I have become so passionate about discipleship. After going through (and still being in the process of) a one on one discipleship relationship, it has shaped my life in ways I could have never expected. This is why when I read the following, I became incredibly excited:
Christianity was considered a deliberate choice with serious consequences, a process of spiritual formation and discipline that took time, a way of life that had to be learned in community. Many early Christian communities frowned upon instantaneous conversion. Manuals like the Didache served as textbooks for converts. To drive the point, early church architects built baptismal fonts to resemble sarcophagi, symbolizing death to the old way of life…People’s History of Christianity pg. 29
One of the things I found frustrating when starting a discipleship relationship was the lack of streamlined information. I understand why people try to make sense of turning the four gospels into one where they all fit like a Lego set. Part of the discipleship process I had started with Don included memorizing one (or all, I can’t remember) of the Gospels or all of Torah. In attempting this, I constantly had parts mixed up. Quoting from Mark when in reality it was a passage from Matthew. It was like I had just converted again, and wanted someone to hand me something and say, “here, if you’re truly serious about this, start here” and have it not be a book by some currently hip pastor or businessman turned “Christian leadership author.”
Enter, the Didache, or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. This was one part of People’s History that caused me to pause and reread the section. Here there was a manual allegedly reaching back to the beginning of the 2nd Century. My copy of, what can really be called a pamphlet, came recently and I am incredibly excited to dive into this. It is a mixture of text from the Gospels and other disciplines as well.
I’m sure the Didache will come up more often here as I sit and live with it. All in, I cannot highly recommend A People’s History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass enough. You can purchase it here.
Next week there will be a filler post, and I’ll be starting a new grouping of posts surrounded by another book. Have a great week everyone.
Grace and peace.