The second edition of the PC(USA) Mid Councils Commission is meeting this weekend in Dallas. Having served on the first (failed) attempt at this, I have a question I’d love to hear some Presbyterian perspectives on: Can the PC(USA) be reformed?
Here’s some background.
Yesterday I wrote a post in which I pondered whether the best and brightest in the PC(USA) are giving up on changing the system. At the same time, Tony Jones published a post in which he argued that Pope Francis will not reform the Roman Catholic Church because, like any massive institution, it cannot be changed. He once again pointed to what he calls “ironclad laws of modern bureaucracies”:
Moore’s Law: Large bureaucracies cannot possibly achieve their goals.
Parkinson’s Law: In a bureaucracies, work expands so as to fill the time available to complete it.
Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy: In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.
So I wonder: Can the cumbersome and anachronistic bureaucracy of the PC(USA) really be reformed?
As I engaged this question on Twitter with Landon Whitsitt (who happens to be a member of MCC2), something finally dawned on me. The Reformation wasn’t really a reform. It was the birth of something entirely new. And if Phyllis Tickle and others are right that the cultural and religious shifts we are experiencing now are of the same order as the Reformation, which side of the current reformation do we want to be on—those who hang on to the status quo of the various mainline Protestant denominations (and maybe tweak them a bit) or those who forge a new way? Both can be faithful responses, but each presents quite different tasks and challenges, and it seems that each of us must choose one or the other.
So, fellow Presbyterians (and others): Do you think true reform is possible? Why or why not?