David Augsburger’s Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor is a radical presentation of discipleship. In some ways, it builds on the ideas of Mere Discipleship, but it is better written and organized, and therefore also more accessible.

Augsburger argues that we may consider a continuum of monopolar through tripolar spirituality:

Spirituality 1.0
Monopolar spirituality is the inner, subjective search for one’s essential, core humanity and perhaps spiritual oneness with nature. Examples: Buddhism, Hinduism, the new age movement.

Spirituality 1.5
A spirituality of wish-fulfillment: “My god and I fulfill my life.” Examples: personal religion.

Spirituality 2.0
The inner search for one’s true self and an experience of existence before God. As St. Augstine defined it: “To know one’s true self and to know God.” Bipolar spirituality allows us to destroy others through our love for God, as religious duty. Examples: Most of mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Spirituality 2.5
A spirituality that seeks to serve others in response to God’s love. Examples: The best of mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Spirituality 3.0
Tripolar spirituality is one of radical agape for everyone: “I love God only as I love my enemy.” There is no separation between love of self, love of others, and love of God. Examples: Anabaptism, the Catholic worker movement, some variants of Sufi Islam, many emerging churches.

In the Anabaptist tradition, all daily life is an act of worship expressed in seven practices: radical attachment to Jesus, stubborn loyalty to Christian community, tenacious serenity (giving up self-will, the need to survive, and the purpose-driven life), habitual humility, resolute nonviolence, concrete service, and authentic witness. Augsburger devotes a chapter to each of these practices.

But what most interests me is Augsburger’s distinction between Spirituality 2.5 and 3.0. First, he promotes Spirituality 3.0 as superior without making that argument Biblically or philosophically. Second, he writes abstractly about the differences but provides few concrete examples (besides nonviolence) of how a life lived in Spirituality 2.5 looks different than one lived in Spirituality 3.0. And what does it really mean to “love God only as I love my enemy”?

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