Good or Evil? Lawful or Neutral?

Yesterday I took a class at Harvest West Bible College, our local pentecostal college. The guy who takes the class – Mike Bullard – wrote this piece on the whole emerging/trad issue.

Have a read.

Some very good thoughts…

Hi, my name’s Mike and I played fantasy role playing games a few years ago.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, I think there’s a very important insight that the church can pick up from fantasy role playing games.  Whenever we played the games, we constructed a fantasy character.  Depending on the game, the character could be a warrior, a magician, a dwarf, there were even clerics in most games.  The character would have various ratings for areas such as strength, intelligence, wisdom, endurance etc.  And the aim was to play out that character in the context of the game, win battles against enemies and pick up treasure etc.

Alongside these ratings was the concept of alignment.  Your alignment basically described your moral compass in life.  So a character could be good, neutral or evil.  But a character could also be lawful or chaotic, which describes the degree of randomness or spontaneity.  So, a character that was lawful good was one that had good positive moral values and did everything by the book – the upstanding citizen.  A character that was lawful evil was one that believed in law and order, but twisted that to dominate and enslave others – Hitler would come under this category.

A neutral character was one that sat in the middle, committed neither to law or chaos, good nor evil.

This concept gets interesting when we think about the chaotic alignment.  A chaotic good person would be one that is aligned towards good but would go about this in chaotic or random ways – Robin Hood is a classic example.  A chaotic evil person is one that is evil in intent but random in execution – a crime gang might be an example of this.

Where is this all leading?  Well, in discussions about the “emerging church” there has been a degree of polarisation between the “traditional” or “attractional” church and the “emerging” or “missional” church.  Can I suggest that the concept of alignment is helpful here.  I believe we are all aligned towards good – our moral compass is set on good, in fact it’s set on God, let’s go even further and say it’s set on Jesus Christ.  We have this in common. 

Where we differ is on the degree of law or chaos that we see is necessary to get the job done.  Those aligned with the more traditional end see process, order, authority and clear direction as more important.  They’re lawful good.  Those aligned with the more emergent end see flexibility, empowerment and open direction as more important.  They’re chaotic good.  And of course there are all sorts of positions in between.

My plea to all those involved in the discussions – Start from the fact that we’re all on the “good” side.  We’re all seeking Jesus.  There’s more that unites us than divides us.  Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before.  But, each generation is faced with crucial and emotional issues that threaten the unity of the church.  It happened over the charismatic issue, it happened over women in ministry.  It has the potential to happen over traditional / emerging church.  We look back at the division that happened over charismatic issues and women in ministry issues and many people say – “Whew, glad that’s over” (except of course if you’re now dealing with it).

Our commitment to unity is not challenged by the issues we’ve dealt with.  The heat has gone out of them for many.  Our commitment to unity is challenged by the issues we’re dealing with now.  When the heat’s on, what are we going to write about each other, say about each other, pray about each other.  That is the test of our character.  If we allow ourselves to be unrestrained in anger or bitterness towards one another we run the risk of changing alignment, not from chaotic to lawful or vice versa, but from good to something else.  And I don’t think any of us want to go there!

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