A good comment from Simon Kiela got me thinking:

Hi John,

This is a very interesting discussion both from you and from James. I am not sure if either of you understand (I hope so) that both of you are speaking from TRADITION :-). Yes, both of you are influenced by your sub-culture. John is speaking from the North American democratic tradition that reinforces our individualism (yes!), OUR responsibility, OUR ability to decide, to question, to think :-). What James is trying to do is to balance (or, more likely, to outweigh) this view with another view - a Community of Saints view. Now, the latter one can also become an abuse if an autocrat usurps the power. However, the hopes are that the Tradition (the teaching) of the centuries in the Church of Christ will prevail.

I do not spit into the well of the history of the Church. The corporate leading of the same Spirit, I believe, continues into our days. Thus, if we come up with a weard interpretation of the Scriptures and don't find any support in a variety of commentaries, consider it very suspicious, no matter how interesting it is :-). Look for support within the Bible, then in the Patristics, then in the councils, then in the middle ages, then in Reformation, then in contemporaries. Does the same Spirit lead us all? It should, shouldn't it? Thus, we all are under His supervision. Let's hold to our responsibility to check against each other. This is where more historical branches of the Tree (the Church) are right, I think.

My two cents worth...

My response was...

Hey Simon

I hear what you are saying regarding cultural bias. Of course we are all influenced by our sub-culture, but you must understand that I am not completely oblivious to the water I am swimming in. To reduce the arguments down to only cultural bias is maybe a little simplistic.

I'm looking pretty closely at individualism, and see that it can be both very good and very bad. Real maturity can only really come through a knowledge of yourself as an individual, but it gets sick if that is where it stops. I think much of the North American mindset is stuck in this independent, its-all-about-me stage. The next step of giving up some of your individuality to become inter-dependent with others is vital; but those relationships are codependent (like parent/child) unless both sides enter into them with a strong sense of their own identity.

I think I will always emphasize the importance of 'individualism" because I believe true inter-dependent community rests on individuals freely choosing to bind themselves together. But without that, community turns into pyramid style control.