Joe (JR), at “More Than Cake“, has written an excellent article called “Barth’s Four Assumptions of Christian Community“. In this article, Joe tells us that in January 2009 he plans a weekly series examining the works of Karl Barth. Then, to give us a taste of this series, he shares with us Barth’s four assumptions concerning Christian community:
Assumption #1: Christian community is above culture, skin color, nationality, demographics, and humanity itself.
Assumption #2: Christian community is a living entity and superior to institutions and human organizations.
Application #3: Christian community is not an end, but a temporary witness to the person of Jesus Christ.
Assumption #4: Christian community demands that all Her members serve useful roles and that nobody sits on the sidelines of faith.
I believe these are very important “assumptions” for us to consider in reference to our community in Christ. By the way, Joe says that Barth defines Christian community as “disciples united in Christ to the cause of God”. Also, Joe allows Barth to explain what he means concerning each “assumption”. Make sure you read Joes’ post.
I’d like to make a few comments about Barth’s assumptions. First, if we define our community by anything other than Jesus Christ, then we do not have a Christian community. We may have an organizational community, or a community based on a charismatic leader, or even a community based on pragmatics. But, none of this makes a “Christian community”.
Second, the community cannot define itself by its organization and structure. Certainly there will be some type of organization within any community, whether that organization is codified or not. However, when the organization or structure begins to control the shape of the community, then the community is endangered. We must always allow the community to shape the organization and never the other way around.
Finally, our community is a community only when everyone within the community recognizes the necessity and worth of everyone else. Similarly, this requires each person within the community to serve others within the community. There may be a person or persons attached to the community who only receive from the community, but that person or those persons do not actually become part of the community until they begin serving as well.
What do you think about Barth’s assumptions concerning Christian community? Do you have anything to add?