In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s).
Today we discuss “Zero Sum Ecclesiology”. Our conversation was inspired by a phrase from Paul Zahl’s wonderfully insightful book Grace In Practice: A Theology Of Everyday Life:
Grace in church politics is a “losing” proposition by definition. It is a losing proposition because it is solid with Calvary and the historic loss of all things undertaken by the Founder of the religion. If you have a “zero-sum” sum” ecclesiology, then you are safe from disillusionment with the core of the movement that predated and “founded” the visible church. If you have a higher ecclesiology than this, you will eventually go the way of atheists, for whom disenchantment with the church means disenchantment ment with God. A theology of grace, with its ecclesiology of suspicion, is the tonic and antidote to the church behaving badly. I can write this in my own blood. Disenchantment with my own branch of the institution has not affected my conviction that Christ is the light of the world and that God’s grace is the way of human freedom. Had the ecclesiology of grace been higher than the anthropology of original sin and total depravity permitted it to be, the result of the loss of the Episcopal Church would have been a loss of hope in God. The negation tion of ecclesiology from grace permits the survival of faith in Christ as the Wound of the world to stitch the wounds of the world.
With the right understanding and expectations could church life be less of a disappointment?