Reflections of a Broken Man

Inner Circles and Church Politics: Against Factionalism by StephenMac
October 2, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , ,

Not sure if this blog fits here, or in my politics one… we’ll see.

The Context: I heard a talk today at college about the politics within our diocese. I’m a politics student… I’m a theological student… could you think of a better mix? But as I listened, I became aware of how anti-diocesan-politics I am. The reason is twofold:

  1. Church/diocesan politics by its very nature is divisive. The concept of politics is inherently tied to competition, almost always for power. In short, politics does not cause division, but rather is symptomatic of and continues to maintain division.

    As I listened to this talk, I realised that despite the great work that one particular organisation did in maintaining orthodoxy behind the scenes, this organisation seemed to be incredibly political, and therefore incredibly divisive. The question is, where is the balance – where is the middle road between church unity, and maintaining of orthodoxy. The line of this organisation was that they were determined to  keep certain other factions out of power in order to maintain the reformed evangelical nature of the diocese. But even that is divisive… so what is the solution?

  2. When listening to this talk, I noticed the great number of names that were being dropped – archbishops, deans, principals, and so on – who were part, or had been part, of this organisation. Personally, it sounded pretty cool, to be part of an org from which the greats had hailed. Then a thought hit me… this is exactly what C.S. Lewis wrote against. Cameron writes:

    I refer to our passion to belong to some ‘inner circle’ of people that hovers temptingly beyond our reach. When gripped by this passion, to be excluded from these circles drives us slightly mad, and to enter them leaves us smugly exultant… C.S. Lewis called it ‘the quest for the Inner Ring’.
    Politics, in this sense, is divisive. It sets up an ‘in’ crowd (those who have power) and creates an outsider crowd (those without power).

I’m still unsure on how to deal with this issue. The idealist in me says: THIS SHOULD NOT BE… The realist in me says: DO IT FOR THE GOOD OF THE DIOCESE. If humanity is inextricably political, should we use all means necessary to work for orthodoxy?