Lohfink, Gerhard. Jesus and Community: the Social Dimension of Christian Faith

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Anita Frederick
ML582A Character, Community and Leadership

Lohfink, Gerhard. Jesus and Community: The Social Dimension of Christian Faith. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984. Kindle.

Gerhard Lohfink, German-born in 1934, was Professor of New Testament at the University of Tübinger. In 1986 he resigned to live and work as a theologian in the Catholic Integrierte Gemeinde—a community of priests. This move seems to be a direct outflow of his studies and increasing conviction around the communal aspects of Church from which this book was birthed in 1982. In his introduction Lohfink talks about the influence of Adolf von Harnack towards an individual experience of God. Jesus and Community is Lohfink’s response to the outfall of this teaching—the church’s falling away from church-as-community into supermarket individualism. The thesis of the book centers on Lohfink’s repetitive question: How did Jesus will community? In contrast to Harnack’s individualistic approach, Lohfink maintains that God always intended to display His Kingdom-rule through a contrast-community that would reflect the King and His reign for the sake of the world. In part one of Jesus and Community Lohfink develops the notion of Israel being God’s intended display-community that Jesus came to gather and restore to their original mission. He sees the choosing of The Twelve and their being sent to all of Israel as a “symbolic prophetic action” denoting Israel’s opportunity to become that community. In part two Lohfink notes a supposed shift in Jesus’ latter ministry from the unresponsive Israel, to the formation of a new community of brothers and sisters through his disciples, “representing symbolically what really should have taken place in Israel as a whole”. He expounds on the qualities of this new family with God as their only Father that gives up everything joyfully to be salt and light to the world. Part three explores how the New Testament communities...
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