Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dominoes of Deconstruction

I spent some time yesterday reading the blog buzz about the latest SBC escapades. It didn't really anger me, although maybe it should. I was struck by how ridiculous situations become when we try to comply with religious rules that are ridiculous, a sort of doctrinal gymnastics.

It seems to me that Jesus was often struck by the ridiculous way that certain groups attempted to apply their religious rules and force others to comply with them. Their power in enforcing law was that they were the recognized authority defining God's truth.

You can see in their interactions with Jesus, that there was an attempt to trap Him, to apply guilt and the fear of noncompliance to Him and to those that followed Him. But everything about Jesus flew in the face of this religious bondage to the law.

Considering the SBC situation, I wondered why everyone doesn't just walk away from the kind of institutions that insist on this kind of rigid injustice. We don't have to submit ourselves to authorities that don't allow us the freedom that we already have in Christ. But it isn't that easy.

Often within our history of involvement with an institution, we don't recognize how much bondage we have come to accept as normal, even scriptural. I think that the biggest fear is that in rejecting the law and doctrine that we have learned, we will somehow be rejecting God and jeopardizing our relationship with Him.

As I have been thinking about this, I remembered the game Pik Up Stiks. Anyone else remember that? To play you take a handful of these sticks (like long toothpicks) and drop them in a pile on the table. The point of the game is to remove as many sticks as possible without disturbing another stick. If you mess with the wrong stick, everything topples, game over, you lose.

That is what deconstructing leadership has been like for me. Do I dare mess with this "stick"?

What about the issues of church authority?

Church government
Positions of leadership
5-fold ministry

The Bible does not rigidly define the administration structures and leadership models of church organizations. Much of what we know and claim as Scriptural models are more traditional than Biblical. The organizational structures are not necessarily wrong, but they are also not necessarily required.

When I realized my freedom to follow Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to teach me, and to submit myself in obedience to the Father, the laws I lived under of how things should be done began to fall like dominoes. The fear of being separated from His will is being replaced with a trust that I can follow His voice if my heart is set on surrendering my life to Him.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1


Sonja said...

Amen, sister!

David Cho said...

Well said.

I don't understand spiritual authority and why some are so obsessive about asserting it.

Spiritual servanthood, yes, which Jesus demonstrate when he washed the disciples' feet.

Very well done.

KSG said...

Grace, My head is wagging to the affirmative (or it could be that G & R's "Paradise City" is playing on the radio).

You said "Often within our history of involvement with an institution, we don't recognize how much bondage we have come to accept as normal, even scriptural."
This is, IMO, often the case within church structures that have removed accountability at it's highest levels. What started out as innocent became corrupted, because humans are human, by power.

The insecurity (I hesitate to use 'fear') I had with deconstructing the leadership paradigms I grew up under was based on my lack of understanding God's Word. I (and many others) had applied the filter of my leadership's beliefs to skew my understanding of some scriptures (Heb 13:17) and colour the intent of others.
When I first faced my crisis the only think God said to me was Matt 23:1-3... I had to ride that for several months while I recovered from a very hurtful situation and learned what the Bible does & doesn't say regarding Biblical leadership.

fr'nklin said...

hey, did you see this in the latest issue of books & culture:

"If you can get egalitarianism from the Bible," says Ligon Duncan (elected moderator of the PCA in 2004), "you can get anything from the Bible."

can you believe that? ANYTHING...hmmmm...

Raborn Johnson said...

I think that the biggest fear is that in rejecting the law and doctrine that we have learned, we will somehow be rejecting God and jeopardizing our relationship with Him.

Well said. This is what I went through for quite a period of time...still struggle with this at times. But ultimately, who/what is my trust in? Is it in what I believe, or in Whom I believe? I think that we have found our identity more in a doctrine or denomination that in Christ. This is tragic if not idolatrous.

Pam Hogeweide said...

well, that's the battle, isn't it, over "right" interpretation of the bible.

i was once part of a women's bible study in a conservative church where the bible study leader didn't cut her hair because of that troublesome little passage in Paul's writings. The majority of women in that group felt that it was scriptural and divine order for women to not ever lead or have spiritual influence or authority of any kind over men. One woman there said that when she heard a woman pray publicly with men present she always asks God to "quiet them up so their husbands will pray instead." I am not kidding.

Another woman at this study declared to us that "what's wrong with America is that women are usurping men in leadership." I asked the group if they would base a political vote on gender regardless of a candidate's qualifications. Nearly every woman at this group said that if the candidate's were similar the deciding factor for them would indeed be gender...this mindset is a result of the teaching which is a result of sincere belief in interpreting the bible.

How can you argue with someone who's conviction is that God's word teaches that women must not have authority over a man???

Having said that, I did respectfully speak up at this bible study and provided another "biblical viewpoint." In the months that followed the study, several different women expressed to me gratitude for bringing my perspective. They were covertly unconvinced that the bible does indeed teach subservience in women.
But they felt intimidated by tradition (and leadership) to freely speak up and freely question.

Doesn't that suck?

grace said...

Thanks Sonja!

David, You'll like today's post.

Insecurity is a better word choice. I've found that my mental thesaurus is somewhat lacking in recent years. It's an older person thing. ;)

I agree that learning God's teaching about authority, away from the old paradigm applied to those Scriptures, brought the freedom to see things in a new way.

That was one of the main factors that was tremendously helpful to me in understanding and healing from the spiritual abuse.

You aren't saying I'm a heretic, are you? ;)

So true. I would add though that some teachers dish out a big helping of fear to disagree along with their teaching. We just have to learn to recognize that we can say no thanks to the guilt trip.

We really can trust in the Spirit's ability to teach and guide us.

I don't have much hope or desire to convince someone whose beliefs are so different than mine. However, like you, I want to be better at articulating the beliefs that I live.

I guess that is the whole point of the latest posts is to describe the freedom I walk in and attempt to explain why I feel it is biblical, even if it is different than the way many religious groups have said life must be.

Volkmar said...

Speaking of the five-fold ministry...