Friday, February 5, 2010

Configuring Scripture, Criterion #8

8. The Criterion of Community
The God revealed in the scriptures calls people into community and it is to the community that they are addressed with the intention of forming and sustaining a people of witness. Scripture is addressed to the Church. It has its fullest meaning in the context of the Church and its worship. It describes the God who has called us and made us a people who were not a people and describes what kind of people we are to be in response.

It is within the context of being part of that people that our personal relationship with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is formed and nurtured. The Good News revealed in the scriptures is not first and foremost addressed to individuals and their spirituality. Nor are they primarily about abstractions such as "love" or "justice" or "peace" or whatever. To the extent that it is about such things it is about embodying them as a community that is a sign and foretaste of the kingdom in which the wound of the original schism of sin and brokenness is fully healed. Schism – between humans and God, and humans and humans is the orginal sin played out in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. It is that Schism that Jesus comes to heal. Or as Ephesians has it, it is the barriers and enmity of that schism that he breaks down.

The mission of the church is reflected in one of the prayers in the Marriage Rite in the Book of Common Prayer:
Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair. (BCP p. 429)

Faithful configurations of scripture will call the church to actually be the community envisioned in such passages as Romans 12, Phippians 2, and Ephesians 4.

It is the Church, not indivdiuals or sub-groups, that discerns whether or not a given configuration of scripture is faithful. The larger the consensus in the Church (currently and historically) that a configuration of scripture is faithful the more likely it is to be so.

Criterion 9. Character

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