Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm on a roll

Ok. Here's another question.

Once you get past primary issues of theology (divinity of Christ, afterlife, etc.) to secondary issues (nature of predestination, filioque clause) where there are many opinions on various issues, I want to know: is it better to have an informed opinion?

Let me explain. We could have some opposing scenarios here.

a) In one instance, I am a rock critic for a magazine. I have spent years and years studying and writing about rock and roll. I have written books on the subject. You tell me that you absolutely love the Journey song "Anyway You Want It". If I tell you, "that song is awful -- it is not a good song," does my experience and knowledge make it true? Well, probably not. I could argue that it is not a good song by some criterion or another, but in the end, because a big part of that song's goodness or badness is not humanly knowable, we are both neither right nor wrong.

b) You have been a carpenter for 30 years. You come over to my house and I start boring you to tears with my story of how I made a birdhouse. I say something like, "the best way to make a birdhouse that will not fall apart is X." You respond and say, "No, actually, in my experience it has been Y. You are an idiot, and your birdhouse will fall apart in a month." In this case, you could be justified, because given your experience, you probably know a lot more about carpentry than I do.

c) I am your boss. We are discussing project plans. We come to a scenario where there are two ways the project could go. You feel that one of them would be much more successful, whereas I, as the boss, decide that the other way is better. We do it my way, because I'm the boss.

Now, in an age (much like Luther's) where mass media and education have made knowledge more broadly distributed than ever before, which of these scenarios best illustrates the desired relationship between ministry staff and laity in churches? Or etc., when a disagreement arises?

We had some people leave our church a few weeks ago, amicably -- but they had one view of Spiritual Gifts, that our church no longer had. Or rather, that our pastor no longer had, really. Situations like this are bound to come up all the time ... so what's the right tack to take? Live and let live, or do you as staff (or as laity) have a responsibility to bring those who disagree with you in line, or part ways? Does an M. Div. or Ph. D., or a career in ministry, really mean that you will always understand the Bible better than those around you? Or is it the privilege of church leadership to decide the direction that others will take?


Ben said...

Dangit, I was really looking for some answers to this.

I reposted it here, in case you want a second chance to get in my good graces.

Nathan Wells said...

just some initial impressions -

I think Biblically as leaders there is a responsibility to guide our people into the truth - this would entail working patiently with those who do not agree with us. I think especially if the leadership changes their mind on a major doctrine, since they changed, they should realize that they themselves had difficulty understanding, therefore it should give them much patience when working with the people on the matter.

I think it might be different if someone new came into the church, and the doctrine was already established - but even there - great patience is demanded by Scripture (2 Tim. 4:2).

As far as the lay people - they are called to follow their leaders and to submit to their leaders - letting their leaders watch over their souls, doing their best to make it a joyful experience for their leaders, because that is what is most profitable for both parties (Heb. 13:11).

It is a hard topic - and one that I have no personal experience in. But patience I think is quite clear in the Bible, and we need more of it.

And I do believe that those in leadership should be given honor - and yes, even those who are educated - not so much because of seminary - but because of their walk and knowledge of the Lord. You can get through seminary and gain nothing spiritual.

But if someone is placed in a position of leadership, they should be honored, and followed when they make a decision.

But there is a hard way and an easy way - its like in any relationship - there are always two ways to go about it.
If we are patient and truly love our leaders, truly love our sheep - much trouble and sin will be avoided.