Donald Miller Repents ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, June 26, 2006

Donald Miller Repents

Not really. But a recent post at [] reveals that Donald Miller hasn't discarded the spiritual disciplines (i.e., deliberate exertion in pursuit of Christ) as flippantly as an earlier comment may have implied. (Note my generosity in using the word "may." ;)

In response to a question I'd posted, Don wrote:

ariel, i tend to avoid ritual because it tempts me to replace “action” with devotion. the two can go hand in hand, but they are more comfortable separated. while disciplines help us love God, they are also the ego’s favorite food.

Since disciplines in the Bible are portrayed as absolutely vital and absolutely not "ritual," I had a problem with Don's take. (Context and my discussion is here: Donald Miller Answers My Question - Sort Of.)

However, in light of his new post on Spending Time With God, it appears that Donald Miller hasn't jettisoned the spiritual disciplines, since he's currently setting himself the challenge of reading the Bible "straight through." Good to hear, Don.

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John B. said...

I may be misreading both of you this morning--and keep in mind as well that I'm not even through my first cup of coffee yet--but perhaps what's at issue here is a distinction between "discipline" and "ritual." Discipline may be sanctioned by the church, but it's most often something one does (or should be done) in one's closet, to borrow Jesus' phrase. Ritual, though, is done in public with others; it's spectacle. And while, high-churcher that I am, I am deeply moved by ritual, I also know that they are but the trappings and suits of devotion. One hopes that the priests' devotion to discipline is filling out those robes of ritual.

Will Robison said...

Don says it all right here. "One learns faith by understanding who God is, and what He wants from His children."

I've been reading the Bible straight through for the past five or so years. I'm on my second time through. One gets a greater appreciation for the book as a whole, and not just parts of it that happen to agree with your own philosophy.

R. Sherman said...

I've been thinking about this all day, inasmuch as I really don't have to work, what with associates and all. :)

I think there is a place for ritual, in that it should cause us to focus on why we come before God. To abandon ritual because our own hearts are not right, or to view ritual as a substitute for coming before God with the appropriate spirit throws the Aidan out with the bath water.

Obviously, we should not be wedded to mindless ritual, without the Spirit. That just turns our worship into incantation or necromancy.

Rather, we should be mindful of our state before God and our purpose for coming into His presence.

If we do that, Miller's concerns vanish, I think.


Andy said...

My problem, and I think this is where Miller is coming from, is that too many churchgoers (unlike Christians) seem stuck in the mindless ritual that Randall mentions. I've known too many friends who grew up in the Catholic tradition who simply refused to eat meat on Fridays during Lent because that's what they were supposed to do, as opposed to doing it thinking about the Spiritual sacrifice that it entails.

Likewise, even in non-Catholic churches, it is easy for many to not think about the meaning behind the ritual - even in one as basic, and as beautiful as communion. Here's a wash it down with grape juice. We need to remember that it is essentially sharing a meal with Christ. We get caught up with not liking the "taste" of the wafer or the bread rather than focusing on the why of the ritual.

The ritual has no meaning, no purpose, if there is no spiritual discipline nor any personal relationship with Christ behind it.

Ariel said...

I feel like you commentators haven't left much more that needs to be said. :)

Something I'm realizing is that an overly hurried approach to spiritual questions can result in semantically-driven conversations.

"Discipline" vs. "ritual" vs. "regular Bible reading"...these ideas overlap so closely that precision in language is crucial.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife