Friday, March 07, 2008

The 'C' Word

"When theology confronts the Word of God and its witnesses, its place is very concretely in the community, not somewhere in empty space. The word "community," rather than "Church," is used advisedly, for from a theological point of view it is best to avoid the word "Church" as much as possible, if not altogether. At all events, this overshadowed and overburdened word should be immediately and consistently interpreted by the word "community." what may on occasion also be "Church" is, as Luther liked to say, "Christianity" (understood as a nation rather than as a system of beliefs). It is the commonwealth gathered, founded, and ordered by the Word of God, the "communion of the saints." These are the men who were encountered by the Word and so moved by it that they could not withdraw themselves from its message and call. Instead they became able, willing, and ready to receive it as secondary witnesses, offering themselves, their lives, thought, and speech to the Word of God. The Word cries out for belief, for this acceptance in recognition, trust, and obedience. And since faith is not an end in itself, this cry of the Word means that it demands to be proclaimed to the world to which it is directed from the outset."

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Chapter 4 (italics original).

I like what Barth says about the Word of God. But i want to know why Barth discourages the use of the word "Church", theologically at least. Any ideas why?

Incidentally, my own church has just renamed itself as a community.

2 comments:

cardboardsword said...

My only guess, and it really is just that, is that it's a word which is "overshadowed and overburdened" by stigma and prejudice. Also, wasn't the original meaning of the word quite similar to our word 'community'?

By the way, have you heard much or formed an opinion on New Monasticism? Read this article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23531037/ - I'd never heard of it before. There's some other interesting stuff in that article too.

Good to see Hebel is still running :o)

Moffitt the Prophet said...

So, should we change Church Dogatics into Community Dogmatics?