Blast from the past


I was looking for something to pick up and read a bit, and happened to notice my copy of Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction, which I probably hadn’t opened since seminary. I was pleased to find I had underlined sections while reading the book “back in the day,” and turned to the chapter titled “Commnuity.”

I found it eerily relevant today, considering Barth deleivered these lectures in the early 60s. He begins with an explanation of why he chooses “community” rather than “church.” As some of us are just realizing now, in 2006, Barth noted then, in approximately the year I was born, that “Church” is heard and read too easily as “Christianity,” as though the people of Jesus could be painted with one broad brush. Community carries the idea that “church” ought to. Was Barth treading on postmodern ground?

As he describes the community, he reaches the lines that inspired this entry:

The community does not speak with words alone. It speaks by the very fact of its existence in the world; by its characteristic attitude to world problems; and, moreover and especially, by its silent service to all the handicapped, weak, and needy in the world.

There is no denying that we do not speak with words alone. But, as I consider all that is going on around the world today, and especially since much of the world identifies the community of Jesus’ people with the United States, I cannot help but wonder: what is our characteristic attitude to world problems? Are we, God’s people, known for our silent service to the handicapped, the weak, and the needy?

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