Ecclesiastical Maneuvering and 21 Cards People Play

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I just attended an ecclesiastical meeting in the country where I am living and it was an enlightening experience to watch special interest groups play various cards from their deck of 21 cards. They used them skillfully in order to convince the attendees to support their motions. In a large fashion it was a study of human behavior, done in a meeting of the churches setting.

One thing is for sure. It requires keen observational skill to sort out solid Scriptural argument from the cards of emotional, spiritual, relational, historical and even the appeal of loyalty to the denomination. Perhaps some of these could make a CRCNA Synod observer wiser to what might be cooking at times.

Another observation is that often the cards that are played contain grains of truth that can make them superficially appealing and have the potential to sway the audience. On closer look however, they are played mainly to advance the interest of the special interest group more than anything else.

  1. The needs-based argument. The "dire and desperate need means that we must do it."
  2. The needs-based argument with a subtle threat. "If you don't do it then you will derail the work of God."
  3. The pragmatic argument. ''Since it worked in XYZ situation, then we should apply it here."
  4. The "bleeding heart" argument. "It will be so awful if you do not agree to this now. I have had _____number of ______________ come to me and asked if they________ and I have had to say no, no, no and no."
  5. The urgency argument coupled with the appeal of the lost. "The needs are urgent and so you must decide now."
  6. The eschatological argument. "In Christ there is no _____________so you should not make distinctions."
  7. The emotional argument. "This is painful."
  8. The special exception argument. "Our situation is unique."
  9. The victim and justice argument. "If you vote this way you will further alienate______________ and you are only causing more injustice."
  10. The "biblical" argument. "I have lots of Bible texts that will support __________________."
  11. The special Biblical text and Holy Spirit argument. "I have a Biblical text that is in my mind and I think the Holy Spirit is telling us.__________."
  12. The complexity argument. "This is far too complex an issue and therefore we should not debate it at length as obviously it requires professionals."
  13. The spiritual argument. "That _____________was like Jesus...Therefore we must accept this. If you don't agree then Jesus will not be happy."
  14. The cultural argument. "In many cultures today it is fine for _____________."
  15. The historical argument. "In history there was a ____________....therefore ____________should be allowed."
  16. The denominational argument. "In the XYZ church we allow all kinds of ways of thinking, so we should allow this if we are truly XYZ."
  17. The permission argument. "You are denying _______________the right ___________ because of this you are a ____________and so you are against __________________them and against the church."
  18. The love the unity of the local church at all costs argument. "We need to do this to maintain unity in the church."
  19. The church order technicality argument. "Subsection _______of ____________in the minutes of __________said_________ and thus it is law"
  20. The situational ethics and personal scruples argument. "When I am with ______________who agree on ___________, I will go along with it. When I am here, I take on a different stance."
  21. The combination of issues argument. “Let us combine need, urgency, special exception, culture, church order, emotional and spiritual appeals all in one package. The confusion of categories will keep people from thinking critically about each and every area.”
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