Christina Fuller, the Kansas Milkmaid, offers some wise words about the divisiveness of labels in her 11/24 post entitled “Christian agrarianism and community.” (You’ll have to look at the home page of her blog, for some reason directly linking to the post does not work.) And her conclusion is powerful:
I am hesitant to recommend tying Christian agrarianism to a specific church or denomination. One wise pastor told me churches get in real trouble when they are known more for a movement then for the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I realize there are exceptions to this rule, I think there is wise council to be considered. Our churches should not ascribe to methods, movements or lifestyles that upstage the gospel of Christ.
In summary, tight knit farm communities are a reality. I have lived it out. I expect that once I am back to farming that we will experience this again. I imagine I will meet, serve and fellowship with many great Christians as I farm. I expect I will meet those who don’t know the Lord too and my hope is to share the gospel as we farm. [Emphasis added]
You can read my own thoughts on how movement thinking can destroy community in this post, and in the posts mentioned there where I review Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together. Although I refer to “agrarianism” often, I do not view it as any kind of standard by which we should measure ourselves, certainly not a biblical one. As I’ve studied the agrarian life I’ve come to think that it is a good way to live, and perhaps even normative, in the sense that it may be the best way to live provided that God has not called you to some other way of life.
But I’ve met too many faithful Christians who have been called to a non-agrarian life to think that agrarian-mindedness can be used in any way to measure a Christian’s faithfulness. And I’ve come to a much deeper understanding of Christian brotherhood as I’ve been compelled to confront—and even rejoice in—the very different approaches to life that I’ve found among the brethren.