Spiritual Engineering

I was skimming through a book on Genocide, by Alexander Laban Hinton. I'm fascinated by such topics because they expose the depravity of the human heart. Social engineering was the preoccupation of the Nazis, and this holds true for every other genocidal agenda. Basically, social engineering intends to institute a new and better order. Genocide intends the design of the perfect society, and to implement this design through planned and consistent effort. The way this happens is two-fold: first, by facilitating the propagation of healthy stock, and two, by the containment or elimination of any disruptive factors. I'm interested in how our designs for spiritual communities in many ways resemble genocidal intentions for society. How often have I been attracted to an alluring, charismatic and convincing personality who had an agenda to create and build a new kind of order? And how often have I witnessed and experienced the isolation and eventual separation and elimination of those who did not fit the program? I have to be even more honest than that: How often have I supported and even promoted these kinds of agendas to shape spiritual communities and the people within them? This is a vital issue for me because I claim to be passionate about diversity in community. I argue that diversity is healthier than homogeneity for community life. I also insist that we must be brutally honest about what our intentions are for the community and the people within it. What are our designs for people? What plans do we have for them? How are we hoping to change them and shape them into the kind of community we want? Because the kind of community we want is going to determine what kind of plans, visions and goals we impose upon them. How much do our plans and intentions and designs violate who they already presently are? And is something already wrong with them that they need to be changed? Who is the judge of that? How do we treat people who will not or cannot comply with our wishes for them, no matter how good and noble our wishes might be? These are important questions. If the church is to represent and actually be the vastly multifaceted and varietal diversity of the body of Christ, a body in which we cannot and are not to judge between the good and bad fish or the crops and the weeds, a body upon which we are not to call down fire from heaven to destroy the bad parts, then how does this determine the plans we have for this body? When we try to engineer the kind of community that we want, are we actually doing violence to the body of Christ and violating his parts?

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