(un)Natural Community

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Friendship is – in a sense not at all derogatory to it – the least natural of the loves; the least instinctive, organic, biological, gregarious and necessary…Without Eros [i.e. sensual or physical love] none of us would have been begotten and without Affection [i.e. romantic or familial love] none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship. The [human] species, biologically considered, has no need of” (58).

“Friendship arises…when two or more of the [same] companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden)” (65).

“In [Friendship] love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? – Or at least, ‘Do you care about the same truth?’…We picture lovers face to face but Friends side by side; their eyes look ahead…That is why those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be ‘I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,’ no Friendship can arise…There would be nothing for Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something…Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers” (66).

D.A. Carson, Love in Hard Places

Ideally, however, the church itself is not made up of natural ‘friends.’ It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In light of this common allegiance, in the light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says – and he commands them to love one another. In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake” (61).

John Locke, The De-Voicing of Society

“From a physical standpoint, a community is a collection of individuals, but the residents of a true community act like members of something that is larger than themselves” (131).

Dynamics of Spiritual Life - Sin

Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Renewal (pg. 88-9)

The structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word. In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated instances or patters of wrong doing; it is something much more akin to the psychological term complex: an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs and behavior deeply rooted in our alienation from God. Sin originated in the darkening of the human mind and heart as man turned from the truth about God to embrace a lie about him and consequently a whole universe of lies about his creation. Sinful thoughts, words and deeds flow forth from this darkened heart automatically and compulsively, as water from a polluted fountain.

Augustine divided the trunk of the flesh into two main branches, pride (self-aggrandizement) and sensuality (self-indulgence), which in their interaction together might be held to generate most other forms of sin. Luther, however, perceived that the main root of the flesh behind pride and sensuality was unbelief; and his analysis takes in some forms of sin which are apparently ‘selfless’ and altruistic, like ethical behavior of atheistic humans. In any case, the characteristic bent of the flesh is toward independence from God, his truth and his will, as if man himself were God. Therefore the flesh might be called a ‘God complex.’ Kierkegaard, Reinhold Niebuhr and Tillich are not wrong, however, in suggesting that anxiety is at the root of much sinful behavior, since the unconscious awareness of our independence from God and an unrelieved consciousness of guilt creates a profound insecurity in the unbeliever or the Christian who is not walking in light. This insecurity generates a kind of compensatory egoism, self-oriented but somewhat different from serious pride. Thus much of what is called pride is actually not godlike self-admiration, but masked inferiority, insecurity and deep self-loathing.

Luther was right: the root behind all other manifestations of sin is compulsive unbelief – our voluntary darkness concerning God, ourselves, his relationship to the fallen world and his redemptive purposes. For this reason the entrance and growth of new spiritual life involves the shattering of our sphere of darkness by repentant faith in redemptive truth. If the Fall occurred through the embracing of lies, the recovery process of salvation must center on faith in truth, reversing this condition…The truth used by the Holy Spirit to bring about this deliverance is the biblical teaching which reveals to us our need, God’s character and the elements of redemptive truth concerning Jesus Christ. This truth is the central core of the dynamics of continuous renewal.