Friday, March 18, 2011

Blood that binds and separates

The relationship of the church to cultures should be both transcendent and immanent. Christians should be in the world but not of the world. We are aliens and exiles but present ambassadors who become "all things for all men" and "work for the good of the city."

In concluding Chapter 1, Distance and Belonging, of Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf, suggests a "a confession-like text that expresses the need for ecumenical community in the struggle against the 'new tribalism'", following the format of the Barmen Declaration:
“You were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer males and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
All the churches of Jesus Christ, scattered in diverse cultures, have been redeemed for God by the blood of the Lamb to form one multicultural community of faith. The “blood” that binds them as brothers and sisters is more precious than the “blood,” the language, the customs, political allegiances, or economic interests that may separate them.
We reject the false doctrine, as though a church should place allegiance to the culture it inhabits and the nation to which it belongs above the commitment to brothers and sisters from other cultures and nations, servants of the one Jesus Christ, their common Lord, and members of God’s new community. 
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p. 54

When I read this I assumed it was a direct quote from the Barmen Declaration. It certainly sounded like it to me! I went back and read the whole Barmen Declaration so I could blog about it. But could not find the above text in it. Only then did I realise that Volf was writing from scratch.

I also found this interesting of the material in my post My Kingdom is not of this World, pointing out the enduring relevance of the Barmen Declaration to nationalistic movements (e.g., in the former Yugoslavia).
But, the main point should not be my own confusion and ramblings [which are probably only of interest to me!] but that the Cross of Christ defines true identity and community, uniting former enemies, while identifying with us in all our cultural and ethnic contexts.

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