January 16, 2010

Nuancing Institutionalism(s)

The debate about "institutionalism" in the life of the church shouldn't be treated as a black or white, all or nothing issue. I thus deny the common argument which basically says: "We all have institutions, so let's just accept it and deal with it."

Yes, any organic church that develops patterns of group behavior has adopted its own "institutions". That's one level of institutionalism. My question is: can those habitual practices be interrupted for a time, stopped or even replaced periodically?

No, "institutionalism" isn't necessarily any different from other things which can sometime help, sometimes hinder. What I'm suggesting, however, is that typical institutionalism is a whole different problem once it becomes *permanentized*. Sacrosanct practices, purposely established to be unchanging and everlasting, are automatically untouchable even to God. THAT is what should NOT be okay.

Par for the course: Heroman insists upon a temporal nuance! Still, it may just be the key. As I said elsewhere: We're all trying to build the Taj Majal. I think we should build sandcastles. We're all trying to build Solomon's Temple. I have good reason to think God prefers living in Tents.

All institutions are not established congruently. It is possible to build for a season, tear down, and rebuild. More shocking still, God may want us to do just that... at least some of the time.


Brian said...

I agree with you Bill. I didn't mean to elevate insitutionalism per se.

Obviously I don't support longstanding forms of institutionalism or I'd be more liturgical or in the RCC or the EOC.

I hand't read Snyder's reveiw of Pagan Christianity nor have I read that, but I sided with his renewal movement view, and agree that different phenomenons of Christian life and expression aren't monlithic nor should they be. I think are and should be in flux. Hope that helps some.

Bill Heroman said...

It does, it does. Btw, this was a mix of thoughts from a prior conversation elsewhere, as well as yours.

The Snyder review was really fantastic, btw. BW3 posted it and I linked to it in my review here. He talked a fair bit about his renewal view in that review, which is why your recent post sparked my mind back there.

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