Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Divine Embrace 14

John Piper and Robert Webber (The Divine Embrace) have one big, central idea in common: Christian spirituality is not about the self but about God. Whereas Piper focuses on a Calvinist vision of God, Webber focuses on a liturgical vision of God. For both, genuine spirituality gets lost in God — for Webber one gets lost in the Story of God and God’s Embrace.
The big question that emerges from this fine book of Webber’s is this: Where is our spirituality focused? Is it on the self, on our progress, on our sanctification? Or is it focused on God and the Story of God?
Chp 10, which closes this series and we will mention what comes next at the bottom of this post, focuses on something that Webber made himself well known for: worship and life together. Spirituality is not something located in the self but in God’s union with us in Christ — and we are to dwell in it.
The Church nourishes the spiritual life when it is located in God’s embrace. Webber holds back where on what he could say about many forms of church life today but he critiques gently the commodity form of the church.
The church needs to be shaped by the divine embrace: it witnesses to God’s Story. The church is a:
Genuine spirituality will have the church at its center. We do not need to “reinvent” the church; this lets culture reshape the church.
Worship nourishes the spiritual life when it is located in God’s embrace. Worship has been wrenched from God’s Story to My Story.
Worship proclaims and enacts God’s story.
Scripture nourishes the spiritual life.
Worship as the prayer of the church nourishes the spiritual life.
Eucharist nourishes the spiritual life.
Here one can find a full, orthodox, Storied vision of Christian spirituality. There is no book like this book.
We will shortly begin two more studies. The first will be on why there are other religions and we’ll look at Gerald McDermott’s excellent study God’s Rivals. The second series will examine NT ethics from the angle of inclusivism by Anglican scholar and priest, Richard Burridge, called Imitating Jesus. One need not own the book to follow along, but these are two books worthy of your consideration — McDermott looks at a question that few examine carefully (Why does God allow various religions?) and the second at how imitating Christ reshapes ethics.

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posted December 26, 2007 at 4:17 am

This is very much what I touched on in my Advent post on Love — that it’s not all about us, but it isn’t really all about God, either. It’s all about God WITH Us in the Divine Dance. It was a good moment of clarity and I’m glad to be reminded of it again here.
Glad to read your Christmas was lovely…looking forward to a blessed New Year, too!

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posted December 26, 2007 at 10:19 am

like an authenticity x-ray and MRI.

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sam i is

posted December 26, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I have enjoyed your site over the past couple years, both as an encouragement and as a thought provoking medium. I recently posted on my blog a little blurb about your podcast on the “Whole Gospel” and I hope you don’t mind that I expounded or rather simplified your example of music being experienced rather than just looked at. Thanks again for your words and may God continue to use us broken vessels for his glory.
– sam

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sam i is

posted December 26, 2007 at 12:25 pm

oops… its only one t.
sorry scot, feel free to spell my name with two m’s from now on.

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posted December 26, 2007 at 4:53 pm

I believe Christianity is all about a love relationship with God and finding a community with His people.
I hope you and your family had a great Christmas and has a wonderful New Years. God bless you brother in all you do.

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posted December 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Having just bought Imitating Jesus, I look forward to the discussion. Nice coincidence.
Thank you for all your help in reflecting on our faith throughout the year, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 28, 2007 at 8:03 pm

I think this posting is important for me, because though I so much agree with Webber from what I understand, I can so easily be too focused on private sanctification or Christian formation, though I do try to bring in the reality in that, of Christian community in Jesus and together in the Triune God.
I need to reflect on this more, and learn more on this. Important and good.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 28, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Just to add this: of course sanctification and Christian formation is clearly important. But its the reality of this community and Story of God that is at the heart or center, and maybe these things come out of that, as expressions of that life.

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posted December 29, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I just finished reading this book. It was amazing. Thank you for mentioning it in the blog and doing a review.

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