Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The death of a highly respected Christian leader and how his successor will be chosen...

Thousands of people flooded into Cairo’s Abbasiya Cathedral Tuesday to say a final farewell to Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians for more than four decades. Shenouda III died Saturday at the age of 88.

His successor’s name will be chosen by a blindfolded child from among three finalists chosen by community leaders — a process that could take months.

I had read this over and over and was moved to thoughts both positive and negative about the method the Coptic Church will use to elect a successor to such a long tenured and beloved leader.  At first I got the giggles at the sheer audacity of the whole thing.  Then I began to wonder about how this could or could not be rigged or controlled by those who think such things.  Finally, I began to lament that for too many, the election of a Pastor or leader of a church body has become a political process in the worst possible way.  When we "run" for office in the Church, we demean the very character of that office and turn it from one whose authority derives from confession and service to one of popularity or polarity.

I have written before how I disdain the interview process for calling a Pastor and how this gives both the Pastor and the people false assumptions and inaccurate predictors of each other and their future partnership in the Gospel.  What lacks more than anything in the modern day form of this process is trust -- trust that God is at work and trust that the candidates are equipped for the call they receive and trust that the parish has prayerfully extended this call in the name of the Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps just what we need is such a process which invites trust.  Three candidates all vetted in the normal way we do things (short bio and info from the DP/Bishop) and then one name selected by blind draw.  Each of the candidates deemed worthy (axios) and the choice left to a simple act in which the mind of God is trusted -- whoever is elected, that is THE man.

I know it would take some getting used to.  Some would complain about the loss of control.  Others might demand that they be given their "right to vote" (wherever that can be found in Scripture).  But in the end, we would be left with a clear, clean process and a selection no one could claim as their own -- not the people campaigning for someone, not the offices of Synod or District, and not some person or group to whom the individual would feel forever beholden.

The more I think about it.... the better I like it...


Anonymous said...

Yes, I like it. Pick three good candidates and select by blind draw. The politics in the church is unseemly.

Sue said...

I've been reading about the Amish by Beverly Lewis. She has an interesting description of choosing their bishops. All the members choose the three most godly men. 3 Bibles are identically tied with string. One has a white slip. The one with the white "lot" is the chosen one-for life. They try to follow the Bible's method of "drawing by lot".

Anonymous said...

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch was also elected by lot.

"Bishop Irinej's name was picked from a special hat which also contained the names of two other candidates,..."