Monday, May 21, 2007

Feeling Controversial

Kennan posed an interesting question.

If there were Conjoined (i.e. "Siamese") Twins, and one got annoyed, bored, felt threatened by, etc. the other, would it be ethical for the stronger twin, if the possibility of being safely separated in nine months existed, to kill the other?

I'm not saying it's that simple, nor do I advocate the mindless and shameless hate of those who are pro-choice, but looking at the abortion issue in that context does put an interesting spin on things.

Some folks might put an emphasis on the word "spin." I don't deny that there's a powerful political machine backing the pro-life agenda. There's also a powerful political machine backing the pro-choice agenda.

And the point is, that in the meantime, scared young girls, jaded older women, terminally ill mothers and innocent babies all get caught up in the cogs of those machines, and spat out like so much refuse. There isn't an easy answer. I dare anyone who is pro-life to tell a 14 year-old who's made a mistake, or a woman who's been raped, that it's a simple matter. And I dare anyone who is pro-choice to tell a mother (or a father, for that matter) who's lost a child to abortion (or miscarriage) that it was just a fetus, or to look at a 3D sonogram, and say it's just a matter of choice.

I guess the problem is that those dares are all-too-often taken, when we care more about a political agenda than about a person. When we care more about power and votes and religion, than about life.

So how do I/how will I vote on matters of abortion? While it's perhaps none of your business how I vote, I guess it's very much others' business what I think. Is that an answer? Not really. But as I've stated, there is no simple answer...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shepherds or CEOs

A good friend sent me a link to this post.

I was just going to reply to him with my thoughts, but I figured I might as well put my thoughts out there for anybody who cares to read them, so here goes:

Interesting stuff. I think she does a really great job of identifying some of the issues surrounding churches that rely on the personalities of their pastors to rule the church. This type of autocracy is certainly against the idea of shepherding, but I don't know that her solution is in line with scripture either.

It seems that a total leveling of the playing field in a "cooperative model" also denies the theme of shepherding. I don't know any of you well enough to know your roots, but mine are in the country. I spent weeks each summer on my grandparents' farm. One lesson I learned: farm animals are stupid. They do have "their own ideas of what, where, and when they want to eat," but I don't know that this is something that is encouraged by scripture. The oft-quoted and oft-abused 23rd Psalm alludes to this. "He makes me lie down in green pastures. / He leads me beside still waters. (emphasis added)" These verbs don't necessarily imply cooperation on the part of the sheep.

I would put forth a middle road between autocracy and complete cooperation - a model that I believe to be Biblical (although not dogmatically so). I think the roles of elders and deacons put forth in the later part of the New Testament provide a standard for leadership that is neither completely democratic nor dictatorial. Instead they are a group of people who are responsible for the physical and spiritual provision for and guidance of the local church congregation. These leaders are then responsible to each other and the congregation at large. I personally prefer a system in which they are also accountable to some larger body of congregation leaders within a denomination or cooperative of churches.

When implemented well, such a system allows for individual empowerment of congregation members because there is much more direct connection to those in leadership. These leaders should be chosen based on their humility and service to the church. They exist not to rule from the top, but to serve from the bottom. This leads to a natural connection with the congregation and surrounding community that makes them uniquely equipped to shape the vision of the church.

I know my views are probably uniquely biased by the last year I have spent in the PCA, but being raised in a congregational style of church government prior to that, I have seen a bit on both sides of the aisle. Let me know what you think and how your experience and interpretation of scripture have shaped your view of church government.