The human world was once a fairly unconnected place and the way "things were run" reflected that. For example, the Old Testament nation of Israel longed for a king, as opposed to the more recent instance in the United States, where "getting a king" was purposely and passionately avoided. The more fluid our communities become, the more we find heirarchal authority structures struggling to fit. Hjalmarson writes
There is paradigmatic shift occurring. Hierarchy limits options because it
limits connectivity, and we live in an connected world. Information that has to
flow from the top down through rigidly defined chains has limited effect.
Information that is randomly distributed and readily available creates
collaboration. These more open structures are by nature empowering and generate
change that works from the bottom up as well as from the top down. And change
and transformation and inclusion are implicit in body life.
Boundaries in traditional settings are used to determine who is in and who
is out. In new communities boundaries are not protective walls but are porous
and become meeting places. In living systems boundaries are where information is
exchanged and new relationships take form. Boundaries .. edges.. are the places
of emergence and the frontier for engagement.
The article compares the New Testament picture of Body life, as expressed in passages like Ephesians 4, with the way the world is transitioning away from heirarchal structures and into more fluid networked bodies.
The networked church has more in common with the life we see in the book of
Acts than does the hierarchical church.
William Bridges writes,“Networked technology takes power from the head of
an organization and distributes it to the hands.”This practice can be tainted
with paternalism. Empowering does not mean giving power to people who had none,
but rather recognizing and freeing the power that is there. When we are “in
Christ” we are already empowered, but frequently our structures have impeded
rather than invited the participation of the gifted community and have thus
constrained the Holy Spirit and limited growth.
How does the above fit within the distinctly different egalitarian and complementarian frameworks, if at all? Is the movement away from heirarchy the result of human rebellion or is it a move into a more sane and beneficial way of organizing social groups? Is a complementarian able to agree with the above perspectives and still be a staunch complementarian, and/or is an egalitarian unable to approve of heirarchal organizational structures at all? And how much of our underlying assumption of what "good authority" looks like (be it heirarchal, fluid, or otherwise) color our interpretation of what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 5 and other similar passages?