Statement of Purpose of the twelve issues of the periodical Leben, published quarterly from 2004-2006
As can be said for the adherents of other world religions, Christianity is for many a system of belief. Though they view it as the only true faith, it is nevertheless for them a “religion.”
Such is the case for more Christians than recognize that fact. Because of its uniqueness and the dynamic nature of their church life, as well as what they consider the vibrancy of their personal experience, many of these never perceive to what an extent the mentality of a “religious system” infects the theological dogmatism accompanying this seeming reality. Even the most lively and apparently energetic Christianity is invisibly subject to the universal human propensity toward systematizing spiritual perspectives into doctrinal rigidity.
Christianity, however, does not merely place us in uniquely personal relationship with God the Father and his Son—something no other religion offers or can produce. Christianity is not defined by its ideas or by various spiritual experiences. It is not comprised of study, service, evangelism, knowledge of Scripture, good deeds, ministry, or fellowship. Nor are its truths plumbed by regular practices and a continually renewed sense of worship, devotion, and prayer. The totality of the Christian faith cannot be understood even on the basis of the fact that God offers to live, by his Spirit, in our very hearts.
Christianity may incorporate all these into it, of course. But its foundations lay elsewhere.
The fundamental essence of the Christian faith reduces to how one thinks and behaves. How one lives. At root, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ involves a revolutionary way of ordering one’s thoughts, attitudes, priorities, perspectives, actions, responses, and moment-by-moment affairs. Only in the daily practice of obedience and a dedicated and total commitment to selfless Christlikeness does it avoid the fatal tendency toward religiosity.
Leben is committed to exploring this life of Christianity—the applied, practical, obedient life of which Jesus spoke and which he came to example to us.
To be his disciple—and thus to call oneself a Christian (literally, “a follower of Christ”)—is to become a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world. Leben will seek to explore (through didactic, devotional, literary, and fictional means) various aspects of what comprises the nature of that unusual and non-worldly citizenship.
Because of its revolutionary nature, and the revolutionary worldwide impact of its Founder, the man who claimed to be God’s Son and who rose from the dead to prove that claim, from its inception Christianity has been a bold and vigorous thinking man’s religion. Many of the greatest minds in history have been Christians. Through the years, however, its precepts have too often drifted into dogma, with the result that many of its followers have forgotten how to think, and to think boldly, about their faith. This is one of the predictable and unfortunate results of religiosity in all forms—the loss of the capacity to think with courage and originality—and that even more grievous hallmark of the religious mind that goes with it, fear of ideas that fall outside the theologic borders established by traditional orthodoxies. This doctrinal orthodoxy is rooted more than we have allowed ourselves to recognize in occasionally erroneous traditions passed down by the elder-gurus of our faith.
Leben is also, therefore, dedicated to the principle of “Bold Christianity.” It will offer a forum to challenge readers toward the intellectually integritous foundations of the other-worldly citizenship to which our Master called us when he said, “Follow me.” Gleaning from the example of our mentors and friends C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, whose legacies we honor, we will not be afraid to ask hard questions and explore thorny issues. We will do so even when they perhaps go against certain cherished dogmas that have come down through the years but which may not reflect the intended teaching of our Lord and Savior.
Scripture will be our guide, but not always as interpreted by doctrine, tradition, or those who would prevent bold thinking. We seek truth, we seek practicality, we seek reality.
Leben is produced in conjunction with the publishing ministry of Michael and Judy Phillips and will reflect the spiritual vision inherent in their writings. Neither they nor Leben are affiliated with or supported by any church or denomination.
The twelve issues of Leben published between 2004 and 2006 are all still available for sale. See the “Michael Phillips Aisle” in The Bookstore.