Friendship, Justice, and the Church
Even the Devils Believe has a thought provoking post on the question of love, rights, and mutual sacrafice in community and explores the thought of Katheryn Tanner and Rowan Williams.
The distinction I work with is Aristotles: there is a different way of ordering life among friends and the wider society. One is defined by love while the other has an element of justice. Justice is necessary when we don’t actively seek the good of others, to build them up, etc.
So then we need external rules to at least mitigate against the possibility of abuse, ie an injustice from occuring. How does that relate to the church? Well the fact that we’re not a society of friends is a scandal, the scandal of the church.
But this appears to be a given because of our fallen world. So how does one develop an ecclessiology fitting to the ideal (agapic love) and the reality (injustice by those with power over others). That’s a tension I don’t think the we've ever found a satisfactory answer to.
I think one model is the one explored in this post. If one can have a congregationalism that takes it’s relations to the wider church seriously there is a possibility that decision making will occur among people who have personal interactions and relations.
If we do have personal relations the possibility of a genuine friendship among people is greater than when we're dealing with the abstract "them". In the early church, bishops generally served a conregation or maybe a city. Maybe another model?