Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Land of Oz

Tim Enloe has proposed a thought-experiment for our consideration:


Option I

1) There is a doctrinal controversy.

2) A synod of learned leaders is called to discuss the issues. These leaders represent something called "the Church", which is a real entity that, speaking ministerially in the Name of Christ, has publicly-binding power over its members.

3) At the synod, the leaders hash out Scripture and other relevant angles on the issues.

4) A consensus opinion is reached, and the leaders collectively speak through the single voice of the synod: "By the ordinance of Christ provided in his Word for the better ordering of the Church, this holy synod declares, consonant with the Word of God, that ___________."

5) A degree of peace is had in the Church, because the Church has declared the Word of God with publicly-binding force.


Option I raises some practical questions:

1.What authoritative body or authority-figure convokes the synod?

2.What authoritative body or authority-figure chooses who will sit on the synod?

3.What is the sectarian or ecclesiastic pool from which the members of the synod are drawn? Are they Catholics? Orthodox? Lutherans? Arminians? Fundamentalists? Open Theists? Universalists? Charismatics? Baptists? Presbyterians? Anglicans? Plymouth Brethren? Copts? Armenians?

4.Are members recruited from more liberal or more conservative denominations? Who decides?

5. Is this synod more like the National Association of Evangelicals? Or the World Council of Churches?

6.Assuming a consensus of opinion is reached, what is the enforcement mechanism?

7.Since Tim has a problem with propositional truth, what is the content of the synodical declaration?

8.What is the hermeneutical grid by which the declaration is interpreted?

9.Is Tim Enloe volunteering to spearhead this effort? He spends all his time talking about how things should be done differently. Isn’t the time past due for him to show us by example how it is done? The best argument that something is doable is not to argue about it, but to do it.

To make any progress at all, Tim would have to be a coalition-builder. But Tim is not a coalition-builder. He’s much better at burning bridges than building bridges. He has a track-record of alienated former friends.

Tim talks about a societas Christiana, but he goes out of his way to give offense and use the most divisive rhetoric at his command. He only likes like-minded people.

Now, his excuse is that he’s been mistreated. Maybe so, maybe not. But if he’s the least bit serious about all this talk of consensus, then he’ll have to put away the flame-thrower.

So far, all he's accomplished is to marginalize himself. He's so angry because he's so irrelevant.

Option II

1) There is a controversy over the inerrancy of Scripture.

2) In response, The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy is formed.

3) This is a transdenominational body, consisting of Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Calvinists, fundamentalists, and Messianic-Jews, among others.

4) A consensus opinion is reached, and the leaders collectively speak through the single voice of the Council, issuing the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

5) A bunch of autonomous, unregulatable self-satisfied Munchkins, who all learnt them a smattering of medieval Latin and medieval church history all by their lonesomes and who think there is no "the Church" outside of Moscow, Idaho, all retreat to their private studies and do some unscientific work with Latin participles and semantic domains.

Since there is no publicly-binding arbiter for such conflicts, a condition of reactionary obscurantism prevails in the loose semi-affiliation of Reformed Catholics.

1 comment:

  1. I don't mean to be irritatingly obvious, but isn't Messiah still the head of the body? Is there really such a strong perception of a spiritual leadership vacuum in the current ranks of believers that people are so willing to step into that role without even being asked, much less authorized?

    It starts to remind me of the rabbis putting fences around the fences to ensure the stability of the social order which, for Israel, was definitely theocratic. At least for a short time. It doesn't take long for those fences to become impenetrable from either direction.

    But then, that could just be me having "authority" issues.