Thursday, May 03, 2012

Prophets versus Priests

I'm close to climbing out from under the mountain of grading. In the meantime I was reminded while reading a paper of the never-ending tension between institution and charisma. Both are legitimate. Both are important. At any one time one or the other may be more crucial. The pendulum constantly swings between them.

The priests in this typology represent the institution.  They represent appointed roles and set rituals. They represent stability and perpetuity. The prophets are ad hoc. They arise to need. They stand outside the appointed order. We see both types throughout history and throughout healthy organizations.

So the overseers and deacons represent order and structure. The New Testament prophets represent the Spirit and innovation. Constantine, rightly or wrongly, has come to represent institutional Christianity. The figure of the house church represents spiritual Christianity. There's Whitefield the preacher and Wesley the "method-ist."  There's the Episcopalian and the charismatic. In organizations there's the innovator and ground breaker, then there's the administrator and process-creator.

It's not one or the other. It's both/and--and sometimes one more than the other. Structure perpetuates. Charisma keeps things fresh...

1 comment:

Christopher C. Schrock said...

I love the phrase "climbing out from under the mountain of grading." I'm picturing you as a dwarf from Lord of the Rings emerging from underground.

And thanks for the great post, a great reminder. And you should look into putting "Structure perpetuates. Charisma keeps things fresh" on a bumper sticker.