Community Metaphors & Western Lenses

This blog is one in a series of reflections on chapters in the book Called to Community.

If community was a picture, what would it look like? In the essay contributed by Hal Miller, he takes an interesting approach to how we understand the fundamentals of community. To begin with, he observes that there is no singular definition for the church. Much of the New Testament is given over to the development of the early, post-Pentacost, Christian church. We get a front row seat to the mess and glory in this growing diaspora of Christian communities. Yet, Miller notes, "The church is never defined in the New Testament. Rather, it is pictured by dozens and dozens of metaphors." Among these, two of the most commonly used metaphors are a body and a family.

 

While both are powerful and useful in how we understand the church community, Miller notes that our Western reading of Scripture has the potential to taint or distort how these metaphors are applied. In our discussion of community, he asserts that the family metaphor is more helpful to our current context than the body metaphor. While both are valid metaphors from Scripture, Miller helps us discern how one might gravitate towards one and dismiss variables of the other as a result if our Western world-view.

que time. I am, however, also slow to accept any teaching that says we should dismiss these practices outright.