I have been reading some of the flood of posts regarding the recent SBC in Greensboro. The place must have been crawling with bloggers, and of course, being bloggers, they all have opinions. What is always a marvel to me is a little word called “perspective”. A group of people can observe the exact same event, and you will have as many opinions on what happened as you have people observing.
For example, I have read at least three different opinions on the much-anticipated “Mohler/Patterson” non-debate. One said Dr. Mohler was the clear “winner”, while another said it was obvious that Dr. Patterson did better. A third opinion was that there was no winner or loser, it was just two outstanding Baptist scholars highlighting the distinctions in their positions and how they could continue to cooperate for the greater glory of God. One complaint that resonated with me was over the politics of the process.
Political maneuvering is not limited to the Southern Baptists. It is a part of every denomination, convention, fellowship, church, and even “Independent” Baptist are not immune to it (In fact, we are the worst of/at/for it. But that’s another post). At one time, the politics of conventions, fellowships, and churches bothered me. I’ve come to realize, however, that “politics” is a necessary element to cooperative achievement.
I would like to propose an equation expressing my theory on “politics” in religion (Though I’ve never read or heard this, I’m not arrogant enough to assume it’s original).
People + Progress = Politics.
The less people you have, the less need there is for politics. The more people you have, the more opinions, perspectives, differences, etc. you have, and therefore the greater the need for working around those very differences. This process of compromise and cooperation is “politics”. It is finding the middle ground that we can all agree on, and working toward the best solution to accomplish the best for the most.
The more you try to accomplish, the more politics will be involved. If you’re not trying to do anything, it’s easy to agree on everything. Try to accomplish something big, and you set the stage for politics.
I continue to have a problem, however, with the tone of the average “religious politics”. If politics is necessary, so is politeness. There’s no need for the unfair, unjust manner in which it is so often carried out. It seems our church politics have come to reflect our national politics.
So I suggest this:
1) Keep the politics. They are necessary. The more people involved, the more progress attempted, the greater the need. If we fail to work together despite our distinctions, nothing will ever be accomplished.
2) Keep the politics polite. Remember that the people involved are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember that the progress we are attempting is God’s work for God’s glory.
To adjust my original equation:
Christ-like people + Christ-obedient progress = Christian politics