“make ‘Christian’ an adjective, an epithet, a style—when what God offers his people is particular action—verbs—through which they can become and distinctive nouns—people, disciples, witnesses.” (13)God gives us particular Verbs that transform us into particular Nouns. Now I don’t want to get too grammatical, but this is very important. Too often we think we can take this type of lifestyle, and that kind of activity, mix it up with our own personal preferences, and then add a little bit of ‘christian’ to it and feel good that our lives are conforming to the Gospel. We assemble ‘nouns’ and ‘verbs’ of our own liking, and then add the ‘christian’ adjective.
But this is just not how it works. The Gospel is not an adjective that modifies our groups of nouns and verbs, our possessions and actions. Rather, the Gospel comes as a set of Verbs (of actions, an entire life with Christ, care for the outcast, love for one another) which form us into a set of Nouns (children of God, the body of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit). The Gospel is the connection of these Nouns and Verbs, of offering grace and peace, a new reality, a new community, not just the modification of an old reality.
‘Christian’ is not an adjective. If it is then we have lost ourselves.
These thoughts brought to you by The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, “The Gift of the Church, and the Gifts God Gives to It.”