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Very helpful series Andrew. No question that evangelicalism is totally obsessed with personal, internal piety to the neglect of the corporate/political shape of the christian life. This is not about setting one against the other but about making sure the the horse comes before the cart and not the other way around. In other words, what drives what? In fact, there’s a growing consensus among evangelical scholars around the conclusion that evangelicalism as a whole suffers from an endemic emphasis on the individual/personal and a non-existence ecclesiology, as evidenced in the collection of essays in John G. Stackhouse, Jr., ed.  Evangelical Ecclesiology: Reality or Illusion? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003) and Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier, eds. The Community of the Word: Toward an Evangelical Ecclesiology (Downers Grove: IVP, 2005).   

Leading NT scholar Richard Hays is under no doubt that the apostle Paul “imagines God’s eschatological salvation in corporate terms: God transforms and saves a people, not atomized individuals. Consequently, the faithful find their identity and vocation in the world as the body of Christ.”  In the same articke he also says “Since Paul continues to be read-against the grain-as preoccupied with the individual’s relationship to God and with the moral responsibilty of individuals, there is a need for fresh theological studies that highlight the importance of ecclesiology (i.e., community formation) for Paul’s ethics… The Corinthians have understood the gospel in terms of individual spiritual fulfillment, and this misunderstanding has led to rivalry and fragmentation of the community. At every point in his response, Paul recalls them to unity by stressing the ecclesial context of God’s grace, the corporate character of God’s redemptive work in Christ, and the shared vocation of the community.” (Ecclesiology and Ethics in 1 Corinthians, Ex Auditu, 1994.) 

So Andrew, it looks like you’re in good company with your emphasis on the corporate/political/public narrative of God’s people. 

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