Taking the stages of intentional discipleship seriously

Taking the stages of intentional discipleship seriously February 3, 2018

In Forming Intentional Disciples terms, this is a person who is moving from trust to curiosity and even openness.

He’s not a disciple of Christ yet, but he is being drawn. This is the sort of person an evangelist is delighted to meet. (So, for the matter of that, is somebody like the radically different Jordan Peterson. Both are, as Paul puts it, “feeling after” God and open in various ways to the promptings of the Spirit and the teaching of the gospel.)

The difference between Brand and Peterson is that this is also the sort of person a Fortress Katolicus enemy of evangelism drives away as “profane” or “New Age” or “liberal” or “fleshly” or, in short, a “false prophet“. While the same demographic who drives Brand away has already lifted Peterson up on their shoulders and anointed him a Folk Hero and Prophet.

In fact, however, neither are yet even Christians. It is vital to allow such folk to really make the journey to discipleship without either being driven away or hastily made into Folk Heroes. Paul, let it not be forgotten, was defended by the apostles from the Righteous who refused to believe he was seeking Christ. But they did not just grab him and make him the Apostle to the Gentiles either. He had years of quiet, anonymous schooling in the Faith in the Church at Antioch before the Holy Spirit sent him on his first mission. That’s why he himself instructs Timothy that a bishop “must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Ti 3:6–7). Our celebrity culture tends to latch on to the famous and blow them up into angels and devils, when they are just human beings. Both Brand and Peterson need, above all, shepherds and friends, not adorers and not terrified enemies. They are just flesh and blood, not false–or true–prophets. They need our prayers and support, not our adulation or anathemas.

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