Friday, September 18, 2009

Which comes first, the nation or the church

Central to the arguments of both Yoder and Williams is the claim that the church is relationally and semantically prior to the world, with its domineering leadership and its tribalitic claims.

"the relation of human beings in the Body of Christ, relations dependent simply on shared commitment to and promise to be with the risen Jesus, provide the context and the critique for other systems, the irritant that can prevent the human world from simply setlling down with mutually exclusive and competing tribalisms" Williams- On Christian Theology 237

The role of the church in constructing true humans (by and with the grace of God) is the criteria by which state and family are assessed. How well does this or that particular corporate identity, or system of relationships, contribute to its members growing into Christ-likeness, how much does it value its own survival as primary or alternately, how much does it value Jesus claim to be Lord (and possibly Saviour) of those outside its boundaries.

This is open to the response that the church itself is part of a family (Abraham's
), and has some relationship to a nation (Israel). This is worth remembering. But it is also worth remembering that our particular family is not Abraham's and our nation is not Israel. Not only that, both these suffered the judgment of God, and so cannot be held up in principle as automatic 'goods'.

No comments: