Deconstruction Zone #2: Community

Whew . . . try as I may, I cannot stay regular . . . posting that is . . . not the bathroom, regularity is a welcome stability for me there. Anyway, a few things.

Check the sidebar for the book by Craig Gross. Saw it in a magazine last week. Saw it in a bookstore last night. Stayed up until 1:3o am – it’s that good. This dude is a prophet to the porn industry and if you struggle with that (and probably 75% of men reading this – let’s see that adds up to one do) you need to see the work these guys are doing. See www.xxxchurch.com.

OK, I needed to get back to things in the area of deconstruction. I’ve had this stuff rolling around in my mind for the past few weeks, and would like to throw it on the blog. Probably no single book has had more of an impact on my theology than Stanley Grenz’s Theology for the Community of God. Randy Harris had us read it when he was teaching theology at Lipscomb, and then, when John Mark Hicks took his place, and I had a graduate theology class, I read it again.

It’s the only “systematic” theology textbook I’ve actually read, so I can’t compare it to the other tomes out there, but speaking on behalf of Grenz’s, it helped shape much of my understanding of the Bible, and of the church.

Per the title, Grenz takes the approach that everything must be understood within the lens of community. Humans were created for community. It is our nature. It is our identity. It is our image . . . or rather it is the way we image God. God, himself, is a community. It is central to Christian doctrine. Three in one. One in three. A community deity.

In Churches of Christ, we have failed to appreaciate the unique, powerful, and incredible role that community plays in our lives. Really all conservative groups are not far away from their unappreciation of community. For many (most?) conservative Christians community is not the glue holding everything together. Instead, it is the unrealistic notion of an “objective” abstract set of “doctrine” by which everything is measured. Conservatism, taken to the extreme, finds itself here. After all, where else could you find yourself with such a commitment to faith in the “text.” Text = Doctrine, not people. Christ was about people, not doctrine.

Our overemphasis on text has led to a underemphasis on community. Consider the following:
* In churches, are we more afraid of homosexuality or homosexuals?
* In churches, is women leadership about doctrine or about people?
* In our personal lives, can we justify social inaction by “reading our Bibles”?
* In churches, do we spend more time talking about what a text “means” than to actually putting anything in the text to action?
* Are we more offended by a burning Bible or by divorce?

The text points the way to the person . . . I’m sure is one side of the argument . . . if only that’s what we used the text for. At some point we stopped using the Bible to find God, and now we simply use it to try to identify proper church technique and politcal strategem. It is time for us to realize that God is no more present than he is within the community.

The purpose of life is to live in rthym with God and with the human community. We try to make it about too many other things. We have completely missed the point of the church. It has become a haven for inactivity. It has become self-absorbed. It has become narcissitic. I sometimes wonder if we tell God anything in our Sunday services when we are so absorbed with sounding good, looking good, being timely, and all the other stuff we spend time thinking about. Consider that . . . we spend so much more time worrying about the speed, the sound, the atmosphere . . . what about the words? What about the heart? What about prayer?

May we ever strive to see the purpose of community that is before us. May we humble ourselves and assimiliate among the community

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