Local & Personal, National & Impersonal
The church is constituted as a body characterized by the dynamic of interpersonal love. Love succeeds or fails in personal, face-to-face relationships. In the local assembly, it is no deep mystery whether or not the people love one another. When you share life with someone, you find out quickly that you must forgive and you must love.
It seems clear, however, that regional and national church bodies simply cannot operate by the law of love because it is just not possible for people who are separated by significant distance to have much of a personal relationship. So our regional church assembly has a much less personal, relational nature than our local Session does. And our national assembly becomes even more impersonal. It can't be any other way. "Love one another" has a very limited expression with those who are essentially perfect strangers.
I guess I'm just trying to make sense of national church politics again. If "love one another" is not the dynamic of our national church, what is? Well, it seems to me that the farther you get from the local assembly, the less the basis is personal and relational, and the more the basis becomes confessional, or programmatic, or merely organizational. Thin gruel. I don't know what else it could be.
So here's a man, and his elders love him and support him. His Presbytery knows him and finds no fault. (three times) But hundreds of miles away, there are those who have no personal relationship with the man, no experience of his ministry, and no knowledge of the health of his church, but they are sure he must not be endured, so a national commission is thrust into the matter with a Book of Order and in no mind to hear those who actually know him say "we find no fault in this man."
I'm just trying to understand why it works this way. Why do the ones who know and love him least have the most power?