(iv.1.58.4 cont.) In a final turn, Barth deals with the dependence of the individual on community and the community on individuals; of the Christian on the Church and the Church on the Christian. For, “there cannot be one without the other”. The Holy Spirit assembles and sustains the Church, Christianity, not as a heap of individuals functioning autonomously, but as a collective of confessing persons proclaiming the same truths each cognizant of their individual calls; this is the delicate tension between the “objective ascription” and the “subjective appropriation” of salvation. “Salvation is ascribed to the individual in the existence of the community, and it is appropriated by the community in the existence of the individuals of which is it composed”.*

The work of the Holy Spirit as the basis for community of individuals mirrors the three parts of the doctrine of reconciliation. 1. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the awakening power of the Word (about the atoning work of Jesus Christ as the divine verdict) is the “historical reality of the community”. When the divine verdict is heard by persons, “in their inner fellowship and there arises in their outward assembly a new humanity within the old”. Each person, each Christian is brought into the awareness and acceptance of the divine verdict and they are brought into faith and understanding; however, it is not this that makes up a community. Rather, a community is created by the divine verdict of God, “it is not that they know God, but that they are known by God” and that these persons know and understand God in this way. In its humanity the church is like any other human institution: feeble and weak; yet under the divine verdict and sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit it will never cease to be. 2. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the life-giving power of the Word of God (about the atoning work of Jesus Christ as the divine direction) is the “inner upbuilding of the community”. “When that direction is heard by men, these men are united in a common action, in a common action oriented by a commonly imposed obedience, and, we can and must also say, by a commonly given freedom”. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is lifted up, maintained, sustained, grows, and quickened; in light of the divine direction, the members live into this direction (Jesus and the Holy Spirit) and thus to be truly active and alive. 3. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the summoning power of the promise (about the atoning work of Jesus Christ as the divine promise and guarantor) is the power by which individuals are brought into community and sent out as witnesses to the world. “The Holy Spirit is the enlightening, and as the enlightening the summoning power of the divine promise, which points the community beyond itself, which calls it to transcend itself and in that way to be in the truth the community of God” as witnesses to that truth of God. The members can hope in the divine promise and the end in Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit, by means of this hope, the Church community is the light unto the world and its members become witnesses of this light.

By the proclaimed word and verdict of God, by His divine direction, and by His guaranteed promise (by Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit) the community is made and dealt with, and then, and only then, does God deal with the individual.

The being of the Christian indicated by [faith, love, and hope] is a being in relation. Faith lives by its object, love by its basis, hope by its surety. Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit is this object and basis and surety. And faith and love and hope in this relation to Jesus Christ are all primarily His work, and His work first in the community of God, and only then His work in the individual Christians….We shall speak correctly of the faith and love and hope of the individual Christian only when it remains clear and constantly becomes clear that, although we are dealing with our existence, we are dealing with our existence in Jesus Christ as our true existence, that we are therefore dealing with Him and not with us, and with us only in so far as absolutely and exclusively with Him.

Though individuals are called they are called into the one body of Christ. Humanity was created to be in community with each other and not in isolated parts, separated from each other. In fact, if one recalls Barth’s doctrine of creation, specifically III.i.41, one will see that the thrust of the creation of woman is to alleviate the isolation of man, “In Gen. 218-25 the second account of the creation is brought to its climax and conclusion…it has only one theme—the completion of the creation of man by the adding to the male of the female…Everything aims at the one fact, to wit, that God did not create man alone, as a single human being, but in the unequal duality of male and female. By the creation of woman, man’s loneliness (which is not “good”) is alleviated and he is drawn up out of his self and drawn toward another outside of himself; and, further, drawn into relationship with God. Isolated man is not good. Thus, Christians, called as individuals, are brought into fellowship not only with God and themselves but into fellowship with others who, too, are under and affirm the same divine verdict, divine direction, and divine promise. The Kenyan church’s liturgy gets it completely right: “Christ is alive forever. We are because He is”.** Therefore the restatement of Descarte’s axiom above [previously] is not fully correct. Rather, it should read, “Jesus is the perfect propitiation for my sins, therefore We are therefore I am” or “He acts and declares sovereignly, therefore He is, therefore We are, therefore I am.” Our post-modern belief that we can worship God apart from a community is false. Whether we like it or not, we are created and called to be in community, and the Church is a fundamentally important place for the Christian and non-Christian alike. For the Christian it is the source of fellowship and encouragement; for the non-believer it is the beacon of hope, the proclamation of Jesus and his reconciling work through His sacrifice on the Cross, through His atonement.

This is same and contra Richard Hays’ ethical approach in his book, “The Moral Vision of the New Testament”. Hays over-emphasizes the community to the point that the individual is lost.

**Our Modern Services: Anglican Church of Kenya. Nairobi: Uzima 2008.

Last Picture taken by my friend, Josiah Miller (and used with his permission) http://www.flickr.com/photos/jomiller613/