My brother Paul began a series on ecclesiology – the Church. During the course of his initial post he took a necessary detour and has been writing about “Authority.” For we “Free-Church” types it is bound to eventually stir controversy. During his series he has noted James K.A. Smith’s discussion of the effects of the autonomous self on the Church. After today’s post I left the office and mused on the way home.
If we follow out the effects of the autonomous self, especially among “Free-Church” traditions, isn’t the idea of “Church Discipline” undermined? For example, since our connectedness to a local church is a matter of an autonomous decision and remaining connected to that church a continued result of one’s autonomous decision, just how could we possibly exert discipline on a autonomous self who does not see himself or herself connected to the Church by any other means, temporally, that the will of the self to participate. Further, the whimsical nature of the autonomous self makes accountability something quite mythical.