I was getting back into the swing of things preparing for my history class by going through some of the original source documents we use. I came across this quote from Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:
"If we wish to be sure that we are right in all things; we should always be ready to accept this principle: I will believe that the white that I see is black, if the hierarchical church so defines it." (The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. pp. 139-141)
Such a quote reinforces to me the extremes that an institution will go to in order to have the final say. It is eerily close to the voice of Big Brother in 1984 demanding that "2 + 2 = 5". It is yours to blindly accept the truth of the guys on top. It is not yours to reason your ask questions. Truth becomes solely an issue of who holds the power.
Institutions display a great propensity towards wanting to quash the dissent that is necessary to conversation. Perhaps the main problem with a centralizing of control is that humankind strives to bring under its own auspices that which belongs only to God. And it would seem that our own discomfort with ambiguity is what leads us there. We seem to despise the vagueness that comes with freedom, preferring instead the blacks and whites of the law. Don't tell me that I am not only free but responsible to approach God myself, and determine my steps according to the mysteries of the spirit. Give me instead a rule I can keep to bolster my (perhaps false) sense of righteousness.
Maybe that's what happens in Protestantism with our many denominations. God births something by his spirit that ignites the hearts of many. After twenty years or so the people say, "What a good thing God has done; however, he may need our help in sustaining it, so let's set down a constitution and get a national director to oversee and make sure everything goes as WE desire it." What begins as a free and unhindered response to the spirit becomes codified according to human estimations. Too easily it becomes an extrinsic duty to the way things were rather than an intrinsic cooperation with the spirit of God.
This all relates closely to a debate raging in my head about the nature of "church" fuelled by emails back and forth with James Ferrenberg. I know I've gotta expand it a lot for it to make more sense�.
And speaking of James Ferrenberg, I find this post freakin interesting...