7 : Paradigms of discipline and authority

 

As we have suggested before, sustained participation in something as complex and tentative as the Master Plan does require the exercise of a certain kind of discipline.

It requires, first of all, discipline of self, the willingness to subjugate a certain amount of intellectual comfort to the demands of unified, effective action. This is a prerequisite for any type of corporate participation. A certain moral fortitude is called for, an element of humility that, once it has discerned the anointing and approval of God on a particular place or initiative, is willing to sacrifice a certain amount of self-gratification and comfort in order to allow it to proceed and achieve its full manifestation. Unless this virtue is present, true functional unity is really impossible, and nothing more than a pious platitude.

The democratic spirit, so useful in the secular, societal realm, is more limited in its usefulness in the realm of the Spirit. North American and European protestantism, with its strong insistence on freedom of conscience and pluralism, risks at times finding itself out of the biblical world-view, much more comfortable with paradigms of authority and hierarchy. There is no doubt that in order for the New England Church to rise to its prophetic calling at this time, and for the kinds of aggressive, militant initiatives that are required by the antagonistic environment in which we find ourselves to be implemented, new paradigms for Church identity and action will need to be adopted. In reality, they will not be so novel. They can be easily found in the varied narratives of Scripture, and in the general conduct of Church affairs during almost all of the past two thousand years of Christian history. impossible, and nothing more than a pious platitude.

From a practical standpoint, true, effective Christian unity is rarely impossible without some degree of submission to authority, without the recognition and acceptance of that mysterious mechanism, so observable in the pages of Scripture, through which God chooses certain movements and individuals for the communication of His specific desires at particular junctures, which then requires a certain sacrifice of our cherished individuality and the need to satisfy our intellect at every turn. I am, of course, not suggesting blind acceptance of every pronouncement and ignoring unethical, unbiblical practices on the part of those in authority. I am merely pointing out, schematically and awkwardly, I admit, a zone of complexity and tension in this whole undertaking, one which will somehow need to be processed more fully in the future if we are to be effective in our actions as a corporate Church. impossible, and nothing more than a pious platitude.

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