I was mulling over various things in the CRC including the new proposed Code of Conduct. In my Youtube life one of the topics of discussion is the work of John Vervaeke and his 4-P’s of knowledge. There is the propositional, the perspectival, the procedural and the participatory. John Vervaeke’s Brilliant 4P/3R Metatheory of Cognition | Psychology Today
Part of the Protestant revolution and the Enlightenment was the elevation of the Propositional over the other 3-ps. This is evident in the habit of Protestants to emphasize the “I believe THAT…” aspect of faith. It is easily seen in confessionalism. Protestants developed lists of doctrines that they believe in cognitively and theoretically to identify themselves and distinguish one group from another. Transubstantiation, Infant Baptism, Divine election, etc.
It’s also seen in the scientific revolution as well as today’s political realm. It’s almost more important to be seen as confessionally against racism than to not be racist.
Now part of the recession of Modernity is the recalibration of the other P-s. In some cases the reaction is to try to reduce or eliminate the Propositional. It’s not uncommon to have people want to have a Proposition-less religion or ideology. There are not categories of male and female, just treating each other with equity. Now this breaks down because the Propositional IS a necessary aspect of knowledge, etc.
Part of what’s interesting about the proposed “Code of Conduct” for all “ministry leaders” is that it too is part of this movement to rebalance the 4-Ps in our world. Many clergy (because another change in the CRC over the last 50 years is that formal church discipline is nearly exclusively applied to the clergy or employees) have been discipled for “conduct unbecoming…”. That was all you needed. Now the proposed “Code of Conduct” for “Ministry Leaders” gets specific on what “conduct unbecoming” is supposed to mean. The intent is to apply this not simply to “office bearers”, a specific group of people: Ministers, Elders, Deacons, Commissioned Pastors and College Professors but now to this unspecific group of “Ministry Leaders”. Every church would have to decide for themselves what qualifies. Sunday School teachers, Cadet and Gems Counselors, Youth Group leaders, Coffee Break Leaders, Program leaders, Church secretaries, Janitors. Part of the difficulty with the Code of Conduct is that it comes to the church as “Abuse prevention” under the Auspices of “Safe Church”. Who WOULDN’T you want to put under the new Code of Conduct? If someone happens in the church one of the first questions is going to by “Why wasn’t he or she required to sign the Code of Conduct?” Very quickly it will be acronymmed I’m sure as “CoC”.
Now at this point the system (and those who run it) have not yet figured out what sort of tool they are developing and its potential. Right now it’s just text from the “Safe Church” team developed in the new wave of preventing “Abuse of Power” because that’s the hot idea right now. Once developed, and set along side, and deployed far beyond the confessional-policing mechanism of the Covenant of Office Bearers the desire will be to have Synod and the church discipline (and Human Resources) machine used to police all sorts of other behavior.
Part of what’s beneath the current fight over SSM is the boundary line of the Propositional and the Procedural. Can you police the behavioral/procedural reality of Same Sex Marriage and in fact any behavior corelating with Same Sex attraction with the Code of Conduct? How might you do such a thing?
Part of the question behind the Code of Conduct is its implementation. Because there is systemic understanding of the power of the confessions and the church order there are some limits placed on individual Synods to tinker with those tools. Not a lot really, but some. At this point I assume any Synod can change the text of the proposed “Code of Conduct” with a simple majority vote. Want to enforce the interpretation of the HC on chastity? Just drop a new paragraph into the newly adopted “Code of Conduct” and you very quickly can reach down via this new powerful tool to address any behavior you’d like to prevent or eliminate in the church.
Now at this point the politics of the Code of Conduct in the CRC proxy of the culture war has the CRC “left” in favor of the CoC and the CRC “right” suspicious, hence it didn’t get through Synod this year. Just wait until it does (if it does) and wait until the rest of the system figures out what a powerful tool of centralized power it has created. The irony of course is that this powerful tool has been created in the name of preventing the abuse of power. Part of the irony of the increasingly common efforts to prevent the abuse of power is that to do so power is often centralized and concentrated, making, of course, the ability to abuse it all the more possible. pvk