When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

11 November, 2012

"Sharing" Jesus and Our Faith (or... Flabby Theological Language)

After seeing an excellent quote from Pr. Donavon Reily on Facebook (like I see at least a few times a week), I share it.  And such a fascinating discussion ensued, I thought it would be worth documenting here as well.  I offer it to you without my commentary, but would be interested in your thoughts or comments on "sharing" vs. "fellowship" or "communion".

The initial quote (from Pr. Reily) says:
‎"Christians are not called and sent to share Jesus or worse, share their faith... We are to preach Christ, and Him crucified, for the forgiveness of sins. The world doesn't need us to share Jesus with them, they need to hear of God's free choosing of them through Jesus' dying and rising "for you." They don't need a toe, or a spleen, or a wisp of hair. They need Jesus: all of Him, or nothing at all."

To which he added:
"As a brother-pastor noted, because we have transliterated the word "koinonia" into "share," we now have "sharing" instead of "fellowship," or, "communion." In other words, we've allowing flabby language into our high-speed, highly-tuned theology."

And, of course, that is from where I got the title for this post. Then a friend of Pr. Reily, Larry Griffin, added:
"English Standard Version (©2001) 'and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.'"

Here is where it gets fun. from Pr. Riley:
"Larry Griffin, you can cite a poor (Reformed) translation, but that doesn't resolve the matter. It's properly translated as ‘close association, fellowship.’ That is, for example, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ’ ἡμῶν ‘in order that you may have fellowship with us’ 1 Jn 1:3; δἰ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ‘through whom you were called to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ’ 1 Cor 1:9."

Pr. David Juhl:
"The so-called "Koinonia Project" is not about "sharing" each other's faith. It is about restoring communion with one another. The German word is "Gemeinschaft", often translated "fellowship", but that doesn't catch what the Greek is saying. κοινωνία is oneness in the faith, a oneness that is not shared but believed. Therefore, we work together toward κοινωνία, oneness, intimacy of doctrine, not sharing."

Larry Griffin:
"I'm just not ready to say that the word "share" can never be used in a proper way. I am not a big fan of the word, but I have used it as an opposite of "keeping to myself" the truths that set us free."

Pr. Reily:
"You can use "share" as you so choose, but the Greek and the German don't support you. You're adding your own spin to the word. And that's what I (we) are getting at. It's not about what you want it to mean, but what the sources define it as ... as my brother also notes, "The word for "to share" as in to give another a portion of something is συγκοινωνέω." "

Pr. Juhl:
"Back to German for a bit. κοινωνία is not tranlated "Anteil". Anteil is "share" or "portion". The German word is "Gemeinschaft". Gemeinschaft is "community" or better "communion". Anteil denotes a part of something. Gemeinschaft is the fullness of something. Frankly, Brother Griffin, I would rather have the fullness, the Gemeinschaft, rather than the Anteil, the portion. I will grant you that "share" is a good word than can be used in a good way. I submit that "share" is not the best word to be used for κοινωνία. Let us not Anteil the κοινωνία, but Gemeinschaft!"

Pr. Brandt Hoffman:
"κοινωνία isn't some silly "mission project" or some popular buzz word. It is an actual reflection of the faith God has given us in His Word and Sacraments. There is a unity which is created by God's Holy Spirit. Consider Acts 4:32 and the use of koivwvia...
Τοῦ δὲ πλήθους τῶν πιστευσάντων ἦν καρδία καὶ ψυχὴ μία, καὶ οὐδὲ εἷς τι τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐτῷ ἔλεγεν ἴδιον εἶναι ἀλλʼ ἦν αὐτοῖς ἅπαντα κοινά. 
That isn't a mission project, or some sort of bogus "sharing" language. That is the full and complete giving of EVERYTHING of Christ Himself. His very proclamation IS "fellowship" / "Life Together". The life we have together IS CHRIST."

Pr. Reily
"Jacob Ehrhard writes: Koinonia is a noun, "a share of" something common.

If you run the verb form koinoneo, you get these uses in the NT (the thing which is shared is in parentheses):
Gal 6:6 (all good things, money, offerings)
Rom 12:13 (the needs of the saints)
Rom 15:27 (to have a share in the spirit with the Gentiles who have come to faith)
1 Tim 5:22 (sin)
2 John 11 (wicked works)
Heb 2:14 (flesh and blood of Jesus!)
1 Pet 4:13 (Christ's sufferings!)
And the best is Phil 4:15 (to have a share in the giving and receiving of St. Paul).

In most of these cases, the respective form of koinoneo has the understanding of "to have a share in" in a passive sense, rather than an active sharing of something that you have.

Also, in nearly every case, the sharing takes place with those who are already believers, that is, the "koino" stuff takes place between Christians and not from believers to unbelievers. In the cases where something is shared with an unbeliever, it's sin and wickedness."

Pr. Hoffman:
"Bringing down the requirements for Olympics runners so that guys like me can run in the Olympics only ruins the Olympics. The same is true for allowing flabby language into our high-speed, highly-tuned theology."

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