cura librorum


Elisabeth Elliot: Discipline – The Glad Surrender
June 19, 2010, 03:15
Filed under: Book Reviews, Christian, Thoughts | Tags: , ,

Discipline: The Glad Surrender
by ELISABETH ELLIOT
(Grand Rapids, Revell, 1982, 160pp, paperback, $9.99)

I know I gush about Elisabeth Elliot enough on this blog, but I need to post a quote from her book Discipline, a short 13-chapter volume that never fails to return to the basic gospel message of our sinfulness and the need to discipline our minds, bodies, and hearts in order to actually be able to call ourselves disciples and followers of Christ.

She espouses an honest look at reality so that we can learn to be mature people who deal with truth appropriately:

It is the man who is most realistic about his own need who is most likely to turn from it ot the shining reality of a savior. Evil is never a reality in itself. That is, it has no existence apart from the good, of which it is a corruption. Hell has no light. It is murky. Therefore, the more clearly we apprehend the nature of evil, the greater our revulsion and the more wholeheartedly we turn from it and welcome the true. This is what makes real men and real women, not the poor self-indulgence that passes for honesty today when people “share” their worst attitudes in order to get, not forgiveness, but merely common sympathy and consent.

And she also urges us to make our minds Christlike, in an encouraging exhortation towards an imitation of his love as best we can even in the worst of circumstances:

A renewed mind has an utterly changed conception, not only of reality, but of possibility. A turn away from the kingdom of this world to the Kingdom of God provides a whole set of values based not on the human word, but on Christ’s. Impossibilities become possibilities.

The mind made over from within begins to think Christ’s thoughts after Him. I have found it necessary sometimes deliberately to refuse thoughts of what someone has done to me and to ask for help to dwell on what Christ has done for that person and wants to do for him and for me, for I am sure hat my treatment of people depends on how I think about them.

She even has a lovely, literary-theory-like passage that speaks to exactly how we have this human faculty of sympathy: imagination is a gift that enables us to be like Christ in that we can call “things as if they were not,” we can love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, endure hurts and pain:

Imagination is a power given us surely in order to enable us to enter into another’s experience.

Overall the emphasis is that Jesus himself was a man of utmost discipline, but driven by love to it. He was able to love us noncircumstancially, and drove himself to the Cross in order to enact his forgiveness. Elisabeth Elliot does a wonderful job as always of intertwining hymns, poetry, literature, scripture, and anecdotes to present a book that needs to be taken slowly, and repeatedly.

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