A body is not made up of parts. The body is the precondition necessary for a part to be what it is.

Likewise, a church is not made up of Christians. The church is the precondition necessary for a person to take part in God’s mission to love and change the world.

One can only be a Christian without taking part in church to the extent that a hand is only a hand in relation to the body from which it may be severed. The purpose, meaning, and nature of the individual has no coherence or consistency without first knowing the story in which that individual is living.

Defining a term is only possible to the extent that it locates that term within a tradition of argument over the course of time. To define something per se would be to assume that there is an individual or a rationality that could exist without its located-ness within lived relationships. That we are community before we are individuals has to change the way we think about meaning and understanding because neither can exist without the life in which meaning and understanding are born and lived out.

Free will and determinism are only meaningful and separable if we deny the reality of human existence. That we are community before we are individuals necessitates that the raw materials through which there becomes an “I” are determined long before we exert influence over our lives or surroundings. That there is an “I” to exert influence necessitates the existence of a will that is free precisely to the extent that it is coherent to speak of existence or experience as meaningful terms.