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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Basil The Great

Today we remember Basil the Great, the Eastern Saint who was central in protecting the doctrine of the trinity and the divinity of Christ. You can read a brief history of Basil here.
Lately I have been struck with the commitment of men like Basil for the cause of Christ. In reading church history, and stories like Basil's, I wonder if commitment looks different for those that follow Christ today.
For example, Basil not only dedicated his life to Christ, but to expressing that life through the monastic order that he participated in. This life seems more disciplined and deliberate than the average disciple in our church today. Setting aside sleep, food, and personal desires as a regular part of life was a norm for men like Basil. Study, prayer, and works of compassion ribboned every day life.
I wonder if discipline is as highly revered today as it was then. There are those who still live the monastic life and in many ways their life looks like Basil's. And maybe this type of life is typical of monks, but not to be expected of those outside the walls of the monastary. I think some of that thought is true, but part of me thinks that it shouldn't be. Maybe we have lost the love of discipline in the Christian life.
I know there has been a movement in recent times to recapture the place of spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian. Those like Richard Foster have led this cause, bringing attention to the need for spiritual disciplines. My focus is not on the recent movement, but on why as individuals this is so difficult. Is it more difficult to live with purposeful spiritual orders in our time than in Basil's? What does it mean to live a "disciplined" Christian life?
I am good at rasing questions, with out having the answers.
posted by Ben Thomas @ 9:07 AM  
  • At 6/15/2007 4:20 PM, Blogger Phil Price said…

    Christian disciplines..... slipperly slope. I think that all of us want to do more for the Lord. And I know that I probably fall short. But...I fear that as far as Christian discipline goes...some might get caught up in a works thing trying to work up something for the Lord. Well...they wouldn't have that much work... or up!! I think we all know people like this. It would be really easy to set unrealistic and unattainable devotional/disciplinal (sp?) goals. When you make anything a "law"...even end up just not being able to do it. That goes for any part of our lives. Monastic calling is just that... a calling to live that sort of life and dedication. That is the beauty of Christianity... the freedom to love God in your own way. No rule books here!! I think that God doesn't want robots who worship him. He made each one of us totally different with our personalities and tastes. I believe that God likes to see how we worship and in what ways we devot our lives and more importantly... our hearts to Him. Each differently in his or her own way. But hey...what do I know....+++ smile +++

  • At 6/20/2007 11:41 AM, Blogger ben said…

    Thanks Phil,
    I tend to agree with you in regards to the temptation to make Christian disciplines a "works rigtheousness" deal. That is what the reformers were fighting against when they "protested" the Roman Catholic church. However, in many ways I think we threw the baby out with the bath water.

    What I mean is, in an attempt to emphasize "through faith alone", we did away with some traditional Christian practices that have been traditional formative to the body of Christ. These are generalizing statements, I know. There are parts of the Christian family who still utilize Christian discipline to help form discples.

    I in no way would say that the disciplines of Basil, and Basil's time, would fit perfectly to our time. But the spirit of the discipline could be translated to our situation. What would that look like?

    I tend to think the spiritual disciplines should be a part of our lives. These consist of prayer/fasting; Scripture reading; communal worship (which includes the eucharist); caring for the poor; planned silence with God.

    I don't think these things have a high enough place in the average American Christian's life. Maybe I am just speaking for myself. In our 100mph, "time is money", "look out for number one" world, these types of discplines are hard to fit it.

  • At 6/25/2007 10:59 AM, Blogger Phil Price said…

    good points...more like 200 mph
    By the way...I heard this weekend that Ricky finally got his kidney.

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