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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lost in Individuality

Not only in my appreciation of elder plurality, but also brought to mind through conversations with my wife and Brian, I've come to think about something:

Have we at times so overemphasized Jesus' love for the individual that we have diminished His love for the Church?

--I do not mean to say that Jesus does not love individuals. Clearly, He does.
--I by no means want to suggest that salvation is a corporate decision or that people can have right standing with God simply through earthly affiliation.
--I strongly support (as if I have a choice) that Scripture clearly articulates that each person stands individually responsible for their life and faith before Christ.

However, have we lost much of the corporate dynamic of the Scriptures?

--Have we taken passages about Christ and His Bride (the Church) and replaced that with Jesus and me? Have we, in an attempt to make tangible a relationship with One Whom we can't see right now, used the marriage analogy to represent individuals instead of the church universally? Is this wrong? Are we losing something when we do? Is there a more accurate way to approach this?

I am all for declaring to someone that Jesus loves them (after presenting to them their need for mercy because standing as self alone, they are guilty before a righteous God). After all, Christ's work on the cross is that demonstration of His love. However, as I looked to Romans 5:8 to emphasize that point, I had to chuckle as I read it again:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (emphasis mine).

Are we losing something here? If so, what are the ramifications? How do we more accurately convey this message?


  • At 4:52 PM, Anonymous T. Burns (as if you needed my name) said…

    Everyday you sound a little more emergent my friend! I wouldn't go there if I were you though, becasue the next thing that we'll have to admit is that God loves the entire cosmos and we won't have a mandate to pilage the earth's natural resources!

  • At 7:23 AM, Blogger RevPharoah said…

    To factors contribute to this:

    1) Our rugged American individualism. We are very much into individual freedom to the neglect of corporate responsibility. Other cultures are more oriented to finding identity in the groups of family and society

    2) English doesn't have different forms for the 2nd person singular and plural. We might not like the old use of "thee" and "thou" in the KJV but they were helpful in translating the number of the Greek pronoun. Of course, you can use the Southern parsing of "you," "y'all", "both y'all" and "all y'all".

  • At 8:02 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    according to my dictionary...

    thee and thou are both second person singular.

    how does king james rhetoric clear that up?

  • At 9:26 AM, Blogger jason said…

    One of the best verses I found in the book of Acts really hammered this idea of the importance of sacrifice for a body of believers;

    "...shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" -Acts 21:28

    While the principle is implicitly stated throughout the New Testament, this is one of the few places I've found it explicitly stated that God sent His Son to make for Himself a body of believers. I definitely agree that we tend to focus far more on the "micro" than the "macro".

  • At 6:34 AM, Blogger RevPharoah said…

    Since thee and thou are singular, "you" becomes the second person plural. I don't know for certain that Old English was absolutely consistent on this usage, but I believe it was at one point. However, that point was a l-o-n-g time ago.

    What's interesting is that we use a reverential "Thou" for God ("For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth" from "I Exalt Thee") when the plural, collective "you" could be used for a trinitian God as a translation for "elohim" ie "Let us make man in our image."

    The point is that English does us know favors in this regard and looking at the gender and number of the pronoun in the orginal greek is helpful.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    After coming home from Wal-Mart, a man opened his bag of jelly beans.

    He poured the beans out over his desk, and began to count and sort the beans. Every time he saw a purple jelly bean, he quickly flipped it into his mouth and began the process of chewing and eating.

    When he would happen upon a pink jelly bean, he placed it next to several other pink jelly beans, so that these beans would experience decreasing levels of individuality.

    After roughly 49 seconds of sorting these beans, the man grew weary and began to post comments like this on your blog.


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