Thoughts on Christian Community
You can listen to my latest sermon from Above Bar Church here. The subject is Church: A Community for Mission. It’s a thematic rather than expository sermon, which was interesting for me. The sermon deals with some issues specific to Above Bar but it covers a fairly wide look at what it means to be a community for mission and might be of interest outside of the ABC situation. One thing I look at is the issue of missionary call, which I am convinced is a community function rather than an individual one. The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that one of the biggest problems facing the Western Church is the way that we have swallowed the idea of individualism hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, when we try and deal with individualism, we often seem to replace it with a fairly structured institutionalism, which is a long way from the Biblical picture of fellowship.
On a similar theme I came across a fascinating quote in These Three Are One: Practice of Trinitarian Theology (Challenges in Contemporary Theology). I suspect that it might sound strange or even offensive to some, but personally, I think that it is spot on. I’d be interested in your comments.
“Every reading of the biblical text is an ecclesial reading, in which the reader is never a solitary individual but is formed in particular virtues and animated by the life of the reading community. And Christians are confident in such readings precisely to the extent that they believe the Spirit to be at work in the communities that offer the particular interpretation. Even Luther’s clarion call to sola scriptura was made with this awareness; he recoiled in horror at (what he saw as) churchless reading of the Bible among some of the Radical Reformers. Today, we have often uncritically assumed that a solitary individual could, quite apart from communal formation, pick up the biblical text and suddenly be brought into a profound relationship with God. Such hermeneutical isolationism, though sometimes attributed to the reformation, might be better understood as the product of Enlightenment individualism.”