Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Canadian church: society or community?

Lately I've been reading a provocative little book called Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace by James B. Torrance.

He is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the U. of Aberdeen, Scotland so it's a bit denser than the chainsaw catalogue on our coffee table shelf.

I was struck by his former prof's ideas about "society" and "community".  He writes,

"Professor John Macmurray... used to draw a distinction between "society" and "community."  He defined society as a collection of individuals indirectly related to one another by law, by employment, by contract, to meet needs (economic, financial, physical, etc.).  Community, on the other hand, he defined as a group of persons in relation, directly related by love." (p. 40)

I wonder whether the Canadian church would be better characterized as a "society" or "community"?  

My hunch?  


To me the church seems more bound up in rules than relationships.  It feels institutionalized.

I don't it, institutional Christianity.  The kind of religion that is more concerned with buildings, money and my denominational markings than it is with fostering genuine community.  I long to see people nurturing community where the emphasis is on knowing one another rather than knowing about each other.  I think it's time that my religious brand or social class isn't the primary factor that determines whether I'm accepted or not.  I dream of a day when I'm part of a community where love, not a label, is the mark of belonging.

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