Fight Club = biblical accountability

26 Aug

No other book outside the Bible has taught me how to fight sin than John Owen’s On the Mortification of Sin In Believers (found in a recent compilation Overcoming Sin and Temption).  As I trekked through the 17th century English I discovered theological vistas I had never seen before, and hardly seen in any contemporary books on fighting sin. (And anything worthwhile almost always ends up quoting Owen anyways!) Owen helped show me how deadly and decieving sin is…and how life-renewing and joy-giving God is! I highly recommend him.

But, no other writing outside of the Bible and Owen has showed me what fighting sin looks like in a theologically rich and uber-practical way than my friend Jonathan Dodson’s. Jonathan has done an amazing service for the church. He  distills Owen’s On the Mortification of Sin (and yes…years of Pastor John Piper’s teaching, too!) and then delivers it in a strategy aimed to keep Christian accountability, biblical.  Rather than drifting off into legalism or unhelpful “confessional booths”.

Here’s my point. If you want victory over sin and deeper joy in God, read Dodson’s article “Fight Club.” Better yet–read Dodson’s article and start your own “Fight Club”.

Here’s an excerpt…

Why Fight Clubs?

…The metaphor of a Fight Club came from Chuck Palahniuk’s book by the same name, popularized by the film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Palahniuk’s Fight Club depicts the struggle to recover identity in a postmodern, media-saturated world, charged with bogus images of what it means to be truly human. In the Fight Clubs, groups of men meet after hours in a basement to fight one another barefoot, bare-chested and bare-fisted. It’s a bloody ordeal.

In a speech just prior to a Fight Club, Tyler Durden charges the men:

We are the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised by television to believe that one day we’ll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars — but we won’t.

In this speech, Durden pinpoints something that should confront Christians every day — the great depression of a life lived in the flesh. Christians are tempted daily to believe the empty promises of the world. That if we had a little more money, power, notoriety, respect, success or whatever, we would be truly happy. Durden calls us out of our depressive, fleshly lives into the rewarding fight of faith, out of the great depression to a great war, a spiritual war. That spiritual war is a war against the flesh, that lingering vestige of our pre-Christian lives that must be beaten to death so that we might live in the fullness of life given to us in Jesus.

Durden isn’t the only one calling us to fight. The apostle Paul says: “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12). We fight in the power of the Spirit: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13′ Col 3:5). These texts call us to “fight” and “put to death” the deeds of the body, our sinful patterns of anxiety, self-pity, anger, fear of man, vanity, pride, lust, greed and so on.

Hebrews tells us that this is a community affair: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (3:12-14). Upon becoming Christians, we are all inducted into a Fight Club. The question is: “Are we fighting?”

Read the whole article, here.

Also be sure to check out Jonathan’s other related articles on biblical accountability.

“Accountablity Groups,” Journal of Biblical Counseling

“Mere Accountability” (concise version of article above )


Posted by on August 26, 2008 in accountability, community, Jesus, sin


7 responses to “Fight Club = biblical accountability

  1. jdodson

    August 27, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    cheers, josh

  2. Don

    August 31, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Sweet. I first heard of that Owen book from Mark Driscoll in a recent sermon. Two suggestions to read it are enough for me.

  3. Dr. T

    September 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Accountability good. Sin bad.

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  6. Logos

    October 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Hey guys, came across this in trying to find out if anyone else had gotten the true interpretation of Fight Club, as I believe I have, and I came across this post. I’ve loved this movie for a long time, but only last night did it finally hit me what the whole thing was about. So I thought I’d share what I came up with. I think once you read this you’ll be convinced it’s the most accurate analysis of Fight Club you’ll read. I say that only because it seems that literally no one on the net has quite gotten it. So far.

    Fight Club is essentially about Gnosticism. Sure, numerous biblical themes and tenants can be found sprinkled throughout the movie, but the most striking thing is the overt references to Gnostic texts, folk lore, and tradition.

    Take it from the beginning, there we find consciousness (the narrator) who can’t sleep, he knows only one aspect of an essential duality (he is missing the night, darkness, or sleep). So, naturally, he finds himself quite miserable in this state of ignorance. He seeks an answer and comfort, and he finds it in the suffering of others. This suffering enlightens this consciousness to the reality of darkness, and thus can then able to sleep. This is a an obvious reference to the Hermetists (an early Christian Gnsostic sect) tenant, the Poimandres, where the mortal god falls into our sorrow of “love and sleep”:

    “When the man saw in the water the form like himself as it was in nature, he loved it and wished to inhabit it; wish and action came in the same moment…Even though he is immortal…mankind is affected by mortality…although…above the cosmic framework, he became a slave within it. He is androgyne because he comes from an androgyen father, and he never sleeps because he comes from one who is sleepless. Yet love and sleep are his masters.”

    Sound familiar? Remember when he sees the tears he leaves on Bob’s bitch tits? There’s more…

    So, God falls into man and becomes Adam, the divine man. However, divine man did not simply appear in the form of a man alone. Remember, this Godhead/Consciousness was androgynous, i.e. only one, both male and female, and yet neither male, nor female. So the split self is thrust into the world of duality, in which boundaries of the flesh and mortality affect him, a male self and a female self. Cue Marla Singer..

    BUT Marla Singer is not Eve! No, here we find a reference to pre-biblical Jewish folklore, and one that influenced and or was influenced by Gnostic thought and the philosophy above. She’s called “Lilith,” Adam’s first “wife”, who came into being at the same time as him. But it wasn’t rosy marriage.

    Adam tried to dominate Lilith, and refused to be subservient to Adam–she wanted to be treated as an equal. So, now trapped in a world of flesh and material separation from their true divine oneness, (divine masculine and divine feminine), a power struggle ensues. From, that point on, both diverge further apart from their origins, i.e. the source. Lilith, aka Marla, flees into the wilderness, not to be seen again.

    But, the legend of Lilith continues. It goes onto say she sleeps with the Archangel Samael, aka Tyler Durden. And then you have a bizzare love triangle, tap dance to the apocalypse, i.e. the revelation, that they are all, Narator, Tyler, and Marla, one person. The final sequence is a count down. Three, two, and one (one being the picture of the penis most likely).

    Ironically, most Christians would view Fight Club as a woefully depraved work of fiction and evil, but this could not be further from the truth. Anyway, let me know what you think. I think it’s pretty solid myself.

  7. Logos

    October 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    By the way, sorry for all the typos and grammatical errors. This is the first time I’ve written it all out, and I neglected to proof it. I also think it’s important to say that the character of Samael is often attributed to Satan, a fallen angel, the accuser, seducer, and Angel of Death. However, Samael is viewed as both good and evil, he performs the will of God. Early Gnostic sects, like the Cathars and still extant Mandaeans, believe in a duality of chaos and order. The former being the true nature of the divine and closer to the source, and the latter being evil because order is concerned with governing the material realm, which is viewed as an illusion and therefore fundamentally evil. Anyway, Samaeal is the leader of an army of evil spirits and demons called Archons, who influence mankind, tempting us into sin, and destruction (space monkeys anyone?). However, it’s interesting that these space monkeys (Archons) are just following orders, part of an elaborate hierarchy of beings, and thus are to be respected, not demonized. In essence they embody the emissaries of chaos and the destructive tendency of mankind. Thus an ordered chaos. The physical material life is seen as a miracle and great. However, this is an illusion and this world is considered a prison by the Gnostics. Therefore, it’s destruction heralds truth, the revelation, liberating the divine spirit from the confines of the flesh and the return to the source.

    Also, note that Bob has bitch tits, being both male and female, which means he’s androgynous. And when the tears (water) reflect the image of the consciousness, i.e. the narrator, he falls in love with it and desires to see himself in the physical man. Also interesting how bob’s bitch tits were big “they way you think of God’s as big.” Also, the manufacturing of soap is a reference to the cleaning of the souls of man. The soap comes from the very stuff we think as disgusting and obscene, yet it cleans us, i.e. we have a completely backwards view of the truth in this society. Hence, the fighting itself is an example is a good thing. However the evil urge towards order has made us suppress this aspect of God and nature. So, we find it growing and festering to a boiling point in which it explodes to overcome the confines of this artificial, in very evil, order. Funny to see the priest getting pushed to his limits as well.

    Also, many people have pointed out that Marla, and the Narator holding hands at the end makes out the letter “M” to pay tribute to Masons. Masons themselves are self professed Gnostics, hence the letter “G” in the insignia. I honestly would not be surprised to learn that Chuck Phalanhiuk is a Mason.

    So, what happens when the world ends? Well, some think that God starts the game all over again. Why? Most likely because being everything and nothing, having nothing to compare yourself to, no one to talk to, nothing to struggle against, and no death at all, gets very very boring. So, life is a form of entertainment, i.e. God’s video game. Enjoy it!


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