Saturday, April 12, 2008

Acts 2 and the "Marks" of the Church

Various Christian thinkers like to divide up the "marks" of the church by some convenient categories and terms. I don't remember where I first learned these designations, so if anyone knows of a good reference on this, feel free to comment, but oftentimes it is broken down like this:

diakonia (service)
koinonia (communion or community)
kerygma (proclamation, sometimes also designated as martyria, or witness)
leitourgia (worship, which I think could be better understood in a scriptural sense as "prayer")

Sometimes "didache" or teaching is included in parallel or replacing kerygma.

Acts 2 provides a useful narrative of this. Peter "testifies" at length, this is the kerygma. Then those who hear and believe the kerygma are baptized (leitourgia).

Then, they devote themselves (martyria) to the apostles' teaching (kerygma), and fellowship (koinonia), the breaking of the bread (koinonia, leitourgia), and prayer (leitourgia).

At this point a close reader might point out that diakonia (service) is missing. But the narrative continues, "Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." So diakonia here is not the later "table service", but is in fact sharing goods. Maybe we overlook this because in a voluntarist society like our own, we think of diakonia as something to be done in our free time as a voluntary service to the neighbor.

In Acts, diakonia is selling what you have and giving it to those who have not. Service is sharing our goods, our very real goods and property, not just our extras or leftovers.

And all of this happens naturally in communities that have heard the kerygma that Christ is raised from the dead.

1 comment:

  1. Which raises the question: Have we heard the Kerygma?