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Community is Counter-Cultural

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

Counter-cultural Christianity.


As we continue to reflect on the essays in Called to Community, we join Howard Snyder who observes the distinctions in the early church from the culture that surrounded it. This anthem of counter-culturalism was an anthem of many a youth conference and camp. Growing up in youth programs that stressed a uniquely fashioned concept of the command to "be in the world, but not of it" led me to the threshold of many a camp bonfire with my secular paraphernalia in tow. But what does it mean to be "counter-cultural" and what did it mean for the early church?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who certainly had a lived experience with counter-cultural Christianity, observes that at the heart of community identity is an inseparability from Christ that is transforming the individual through identity formation. "The fellowship between Jesus and his disciples covered every aspect of their daily life. Within the fellowship of Christ’s disciples the life of each individual was part of the life of the brotherhood. This common life bears living testimony to the concrete humanity of the Son of God … In the Christian life the individual disciple and the body of Jesus belong inseparably together." (44) We observed in the latest blog in this series how this identity in Christ resulted in a new reality both for individuals and communal life. But how does the gospel make us counter-cultural as a unified but diverse people?

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