TGR-S5E6 Questionable Authority

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This week on The Great Reset, Ernie argues that his apparent incompetence and immaturity is actually part of a brilliant plan to demonstrate the need for more Christ-like models of authority.

TED Summary

In this document, Ernie:

  • Claims the authority structures he grew up with were built around the Law
  • Acknowledges that they were (and are) necessary
  • Believes those same structures hinder us from becoming mature in Christ
  • Redefines The Great Reset in terms of searching for more robust authority structures built around Grace,
  • Hopes that Season 5 shows us what that should look like
  • Welcomes pointers, examples, suggestions, and corrections
  • Apologizes to anyone he has confused, misled, or offended along the way

Draft 1, 14 Nov 2020

Preface

Dearly Beloved,

First of all, I want to confess that Janet was accurate what she said that The Great Reset seems like a “self-help group for Ernie.” During Season One it became clear that the most important reason I co-founded The Great Reset was because I myself need help. The cry of my heart is to become closer to Jesus, especially in my thinking, feeling, and doing. I felt that I (and to be honest, the Body of Christ as a whole) had reached the point of diminishing returns with our existing practices for doing that, and was hungry for something new.

From that selfish perspective, I can honestly say that this group has exceeded my every expectation. Each of you (Ted, Steve, the Davids, Bill, Janet, Eric, even latecomer Robby; as well as those that came before) has helped me grow in self-awareness, hope, joy, and so many other things. Thank you for your patience and engagement.

For that reason, I am both humbled and grateful for the chance to clarify and refine my views on authority. I need your help to validate me where I am right, correct me where I am wrong, and work with me where I am confused or confusing.

I also want to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I have frustrated, offended, or misled by anything I have said, done, or failed to do. I am glad I was able to clear the air with Ted, and look forward to doing the same with Steve whenever he is ready.

Please let me know if you have other concerns you would like me to address. If you aren’t comfortable coming to me directly (or have tried and failed), please reach out to Ted or DJ for their assistance. Thanks!

The Big Question

I helped launch The Great Reset in the shadow of COVID-19 because I felt our existing centralized systems were failing us — which was a good thing! Over my past several years as a spiritual entrepreneur, I had become convinced that the religious systems we inherited were actually limiting our ability to spread the gospel. If we were truly to obey everything Jesus commanded us to do, I believed the Body of Christ needed Something New.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what Something New actually was. Worse, I didn’t know how to get there, or explain why I wanted it. To me, it felt like trying to describe “snow” over a noisy telephone to the people my parents grew up with in 1940’s India. Either people assumed it was the same thing (“just cold wet sand”), or I had to use negatives to distinguish it (“softer and more fun than sand”).

I regret the negatives the most, as my great fear was doing this as an emotional reaction against the status quo, which never ends well. But I honestly couldn’t figure out a better way to answer people’s questions. It was like dreaming about a color that doesn’t exist in our world: how would you even begin to describe it once you wake up?

Exemplary Behavior

Fortunately, God is kind. With the events of Season 5, I finally have a concrete example: one that you can look at directly, and that helps crystallize my thinking.

Specifically, I want to be part of a scaleable community so devoted to loving more like Jesus that it embraces the following Three Practices:

  1. Members are honored for sharing their frustrations (however publicly or imperfectly), because it helps us learn where we most need to grow
  2. Leaders vulnerably, humbly, and publicly submit to being discipled by the Word & Spirit, Body & Blood of Christ
  3. We continually question and revise our assumptions, practices, and systems to ensure we keep getting better at those things

Interestingly, this has always been the ideal behind small groups. However, at least in the West, those have always been dependent on (and therefore constrained by) larger systems that do not share those practices.

Beyond Paternalistic Authority

I believe that it is no accident that large-scale systems generally resist the Three Practice: they are horribly inefficient. In the short term, it is far more effective to place a “good enough” human at the top of the pyramid, and give them the power to regulate everyone else’s behavior (rather than vice versa).

In fact, that is how God designed the world. We all need parents to shape our earliest behavior, and secular authorities to restrain wickedness. In fact, we all benefit greatly from “spiritual fathers” laying down a Law we need to start from. Their virtue may be an illusion, but it is a necessary fiction in order for us to be able to function.

The problem is not that we have such systems: they are both valid and necessary, and we will always need some version of them. The problem is that we have confused conformity to those structures with actually becoming like Jesus. Which left us unconsciously measuring Christ-likeness and spiritual maturity in terms of our ability to obey Laws rather than to receive and transmit Grace.

The Great Opportunity

I believe that the opportunity before The Great Reset is to publicly develop and demonstrate a radical discipleship to Jesus built around those Three Practices. One that continues to honor the systems that came before (upon which our civilization depends), but still seeks to transcend them for the sake of loving more like Jesus.

This won’t be easy, but I believe all the pieces are in place for us to build something truly scalable and antifragile for representing Jesus; which the world has not yet imagined, but is dying to see

However, I am sensitive to (even flattered by!) Steve’s concern that this could “burn down the house.” That is all the more reason why I want to submit myself and my beliefs to you as Christ’s Body, and Scripture as His Word, so that together we can seek His Spirit for the best way to proceed.

Yours in the Blood of Christ,

Ernie Prabhakar

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