“This is about the ontology of Westerners squaring up to the ontology of the church, and church people and leaders squaring up to what we are facing.
First, Western culture increasingly believes the fundamental problems of life are systemic and social, and are to be resolved through social progress and most especially through social engineering in public education. The Christian school movement, in other words, seems to be every bit the same theory: the way to “fix” society is by social engineering but through Christian education.
Second, Western culture tends to believe in the inherent goodness of humans and that society and systems corrupt that original goodness. The idea of original sin has fallen off the map for most social theorists, which implies as well that importance of regeneration unto transformation has as well.
Third, Western culture believes its laws are created by the people, they are for the people, and when the people shift the laws will need to shift with them. Laws then are not simply some kind of moral inscribing of what is proven to be true and right by nature but are instead the expressions of the will of the people..
Fourth, Western culture then increasingly locates authority in the people, in fact, all the way down to the individual person. The locus of authority is the people, not the truth and not the leaders and not the laws. Congregationalism then is an ecclesial mirror arrangement to the Western sense of “we the people.”
Fifth, one’s commitment to society, to state, to the authorities, to the institutions, or to the establishment is voluntary and the moral authority of the laws of that society is good only so long as the individual person can believe in and commit themselves to those institutions. This means people have “rights” on the basis of laws they have created and with which they agree.
Sixth, the leaders of Western societies are the will of the people and need to change if the will of the people changes. The authority of the leader is given to him/her by the people and for the people.
Now this leads me to say this about commitment to a church: since authority has shifted over time from monarchies to democracies and therefore to individuals in those democracies, individuals form their own commitment levels to churches on the basis of their own lights. Each individual then forms a kind of church contract based on whether or not and the degree to which the individual agrees with that church’s “laws.”