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Church Politics Good and Bad

Not too long ago I posted about the necessity for church politics. Today I was reading Frederick W. Danker’s commentary on 2 Corinthians, and I ran across a similar argument, based on 2 Corinthians.

Let me quote it:

Much of Paul’s success lay in his political acumen, with a flair for recognition of the potential of others for service. If politics is the art of mobilizing power and resources, material and human–with whatever bureaucratic structures are necessary–to satisfy the optimum requirements for justice and to ensure the safety of the powerless, St. Paul qualifies as one of its masters. There are those who shy away from the use of the terms politics and bureaucracy in connection with ecclesiastical matters. But if politics is presumed to be so intrinsically tainted that the institutional church is embarrassed by the term, there is no reason to expect “politicians” to think better of themselves. There is no escape from reality–politics and bureaucracy are facts of life, and it is primarily a question of whether there will be good or bad politics and good or bad bureaucrats. It is also true that groups of people ultimately determine which kind will prevail. In this letter to Corinth, Paul exposes practitioners of bad politics and invites his addressees to insist on good politics. He himself claims to be a politician dedicated to the interests of God and Jesus Christ, and therefore of the Corinthians’ interests. It is not surprising therefore that many of Paul’s statements in this letter relate to matters of morale, authority, teamwork, and obedience.

I think this paragraph presents a very important truth, and it is well supported by the epistles of Paul, and particularly 1 & 2 Corinthians. Whether in politics or in the church, when we dismiss all politics as dirty or unnecessary we simply guarantee that we will have bad politics.

Cynics around the country will fail to vote or fail to express their opinions and then will complain. But they themselves are complicit in the fact that politics is dirty, because they do not participate and place their votes against the bad politicians.

In many churches there are people who complain about the way the church functions. In my own United Methodist denomination many like to complain about the larger church organization, but very few people want to get involved and do the hard work of making church politics function well.

We have to get involved and expect–no, insist on–more. Otherwise we’ll continue to get less.

(I wrote a short review of Danker’s commentary on 2 Corinthians here.)

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One Comment

  1. in my opinion church can be a real boring, dull, uptight thing to do ea week. i recently left coral ridge presbyterian church for that reason. that place was so full of anger, critical people and a lot of judgementalism! i now WORSHIP at Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale florida! i now actually look forward to spending time twice a week plus small mens bible study! it’s all about the style and the message being sent by the leaders. crpc has a lot of problems and if all churches were like that… NO ONE WOULD EVER BECOME A CHRISTIAN!

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