Author Archive: TomA

Introducing RadicalDiscipleship.net

On September 3rd, the anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ escape to freedom, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries and Word & World launched a daily-updated blog to highlight the unique strand of North American “movement” Christianity. We are committed to being collective (welcoming a multiplicity & diversity of voices), convictional (unapologetically theological), constructive (creating a new world out of the shell of the old) and concrete (covering a range of personal to political practices, from reformist to revolutionary).

A host of labels have been slapped on these various brands of Christian communities: Catholic Workers, house churches, new monastic communities, alternative communities, intentional communities, a community of communities. We could go on and on. Basically, we get our litmus test of what is authentic radical discipleship from the Prophet Micah: communities designed to strategically advocate for justice, perform daring acts of mercy & walk humbly with God (even when no one is looking).

Historically, these are followers of Jesus in North America who have prayerfully, poetically & prominently stood in solidarity with “the disinherited,” articulated by the late Howard Thurman as “those who stand with their backs against the wall.” These abolitionists, women’s suffragists, freedom riders, sanctuary providers, table-grape boycotters & marriage equalizers have nonviolently faced down scorn and come out the other side on “the right side of history.”

Some might say that these are communities dedicated to going beyond addressing symptoms by tirelessly engaging systems. Borrowing language from both addiction recovery groups and Hebrew Bible scholarship, RadicalDiscipleship.Net will be focused on showcasing communities committed to a rigorous personal inventory & a ruthless prophetic imagination. (more…)

The Rick Warren Incident

During this particular moment of time, as large numbers of younger Evangelicals are leaving the church for nominalism or into the camp of the 16% of the US which make up the spiritually “unaffliated”, I believe that the Anabaptist Tradition has massive resources to offer the North American Body of Christ at large, especially the conservative Evangelical tradition of my upbringing.

I am utterly compelled that the thought and praxis of the Radical Reformation uniquely confronts the weaknesses of North American Evangelicalism, a tradition credited (through the almost universal marriage with the GOP) with the 8-years of unjust Bush policies (two wars, the Patriot Act, trickle-down economics, etc), as well as a virtual obsession with “biblical” issues like abortion & gay marriage (and, yes, Obama has not fared much better in his quest to set records with drones and deportations). 

In addition, Anabaptism is well-equipped to confront narcissism, instant gratification, consumerism and celebrity worship saturating us everyday.  As Nancey Murphy wrote a few years back, referring to the “distinctive” characteristics of Anabaptism (nonviolence, revolutionary subordination, the separation of church and state and learning to live with less),

“All four of these radical-reformation distinctives can be seen as strategies for living in such a way as to curb the will-to-power.” (more…)