There is a lot of discussion about doctrinal problems of 2x2ism, problems about the legalism, etc. But rarely does anyone get to the heart of the matter of what is wrong with 2x2ism - the organizational structure, a structure which facilitates all the other problems folks see.
When I talk about the problems of the organizational structure of 2x2ism, I am referring to more than just its hierarchical structure. There are many organizations (corporations) which are hierarchical, and most run reasonably well, some even excellently. It is not hierarchy by itself that is the problem. The big trouble with the 2x2 structure is the COMBINATION of the following:
1) Appointed Hierarchy with no clear process of what are the requirement to be appointed. And not even clear who exactly is responsible for what exactly.
2) No rule of law (no written 'constitution' which delineates the rules and roles). Rules change, rules are bent, rules are ignored. Roles have no boundaries.
3) No method of seeking redress. No formal process of how to appeal a bad decision of an authority figure.
4) No transparency regarding unwritten rule making, decisions, money handling, etc. Basically money goes in, and orders come out. Don't ask who, when, why, what, where, or how.
5) No contact or communication allowed with other religious organizations. This facilitates 'group think'. Even the RCC encourages it's priests and members to talk to non-RCCs.
6) No 'Board of Directors' comprised of various representatives from the different parts of the hierarchy to control/hire/fire the 'CEOs/Overseers'.
So, what is the above? In technical terms it is despotism. This is pretty much how North Korea is set up. For religious groups, the technical term is a cult. Aside from the Absolute Control these structure create, they also create a schizophrenia/anxiety conditions in the members as the 'rules' are constantly shifting beneath their feet. These types of organizational structures are obviously unhealthy, but more importantly in order for them to exist, they require very strict punishment of anyone even beginning to question things. Dissent can spread like wildfire through these types of organizations, so it must be stamped out fiercely - hence the excommunications and shunnings.
What's that? You don't think 2x2ism fits the above model? Let's test it and see if that is true. Who are the top leaders of 2x2ism? The Overseers. How did they get their job? Not sure. Were they elected by the Friends? No. Did the Friends elect representatives who then elected the Overseers? No. Do the Overseers have term limits? No. Do the Overseers have complete authority over the Workers in their territories? Yes. If a Worker disobeys an Overseer, what happens? The worker is punished (re-assignment or expulsion). Can the Worker appeal the decision of the Overseer? No. The Overseer's authority is absolute. Do the Overseers have a written constitution (bylaws) which govern what they do and do not have authority over? No, there is no such thing. Overseers have complete authority over workers - even down to determining their hairstyles. Do the Overseers of the various territories meet to discuss matters? Yes. Is anyone else allowed at those meetings? No. Are minutes of the meetings published for Workers or Friends to read? No. All the money which Friends contribute to 2x2ism, where is it? Don't know. Are there open financial records of all the money that 2x2ism has? No. Are there written rules about doctrine of 2x2ism? No. Is doctrine different for 2x2ism in different parts of the world? Yes. Widely different? Yes - no drinking in some places, drinking in others; no divorce in some places, divorce in others; no TV in some areas, TV in other areas, etc. Are 2x2s encourages to investigate Christianity doctrine from other sources than Workers? No. Christian reading material is forbidden. Do the Friends have any vote in any matters of 2x2ism? No. Do the Friends in a local area have a vote on who they want as an elder? No. Do the Friends in a local area have a vote on who they want as Workers? No. Do the Friends have any vote in who they have as Overseer? No. If there is a disagreement between Workers and Friends, how is that disagreement resolved? Workers are always correct, Friends must obey Workers not the other way around.
But wait you say, 2x2s have the Holy Spirit and so they will never do bad things. The Overseers will never do bad things. The Workers will never do bad things. Whoops, that's not true. Too many examples of many mistakes by Overseers and Workers (child sexual assault being just one of them). So if the Overseers/Workers are sinners just like you and I, why would you want to give sinners UNLIMITED power over others? Power which cannot be challenged unless you want to be kicked out of 2x2ism. That seems very dangerous and stupid to give such power to people who will make mistakes. Wouldn't it be better if there was an org structure which stopped the mistakes before they got rolling too far along? Of course there is no such thing as a perfect org structure. But what I am talking about is org structures which either enhance or reduce human fallible behavior. It's important to realize that org structures are very influential on how humans behave. There is an entire field of study about how org structure influences human behavior - called Organizational Psychology. It means that people DO NOT make decisions independent of org structure - instead the org structure has large impacts on the decisions they make. The most famous examples of this involve sadistic behavior among some prison guards - otherwise nice normal people in their daily lives, but given the opportunity to abuse someone because their job allows it to be possible, in fact do things which are seemingly out of character. The point is that an org structure which assumes everyone will behave ethically and 100% in the interest of the organization is an org structure which is doomed to fail. If you want people to avoid behaving in a certain way, you need to put controls in place so that they are not provided the opportunity to behave in the undesired fashion. That is after all why we have laws and punishments. www.simplypsychology.org/zimbardo.html
If 2x2s like their org structure so much, why don't they advocate it as the org structure for governing their country? The checks and balances that were expressly written into the US Constitution? Toss them out. The Constitution itself? Toss it out - no need for 'rule of law', let's have rule of the Overseers. Appeal Courts? Toss them out - the judges never make mistakes. Trial by Jury? Throw it out. Again, why involve the common people in the process, they don't know anything. Let's just get rid of courts altogether, better to just have informal meetings of the leaders to decide who should live or die. The meetings of the leaders? Definitely keep that secret, never print any meeting minutes or allow it to be recorded. Travel abroad? Prohibited. Visitors from abroad? Prohibited, except if paired with a 'minder'. Books, TV, Films, etc from abroad? Never, we have all we need here, do not need to learn from anyone else. What if someone gets asking questions that we don't like? Exile them. Seriously, this is exactly what the 2x2 organizational structure results in if it were used to govern a country. North Korea. And you think this is a good system? Whether at a country level, a state level, a municipal level, or a church level, this is a terrible system. Only a lunatic would agree to live their lives with such a system. That's why I seriously wonder if 2x2s suffer from some sort of mental illness.
It is exactly because of the org structure of 2x2ism that is there is a huge deficit of freedom of speech and thought within 2x2ism. As mentioned, there is no mechanism to ensure that controversial ideas can voiced without fear of reprisal (expulsion or shunning). There's no question in my mind that if 2x2ism had complete freedom of speech and thought, exclusivism would die in a week or two. And conversely without that liberty various prejudices, notions and wrong ideas can grow because coercive strategies prevent their destruction. The desire to purge outside or destructive influences is done with the best motives in mind. But that end justifies what kind of means? The justified means should only be counter-argument, counter-preaching. Idea versus idea. Not the complete shutdown of discussion which might be considered controversial. Read J.S. Mill's On Liberty about why freedom of speech is so important - it's not so that everyone gets a say, it's instead to ensure that all ideas get a chance to be heard and weighed for their merit by all. It's also to get one to defend their beliefs against the new idea, and in the process get a better and deeper understanding of their own beliefs. Thirdly, it is to fire up passion for your own beliefs as unchallenged beliefs become dead beliefs. Again, 2x2ism is despotism.
Despite what you think about the Roman Catholic Church, it does have a lot more laity input into the daily workings of the parish than you might imagine. I know it seems strange, but there is a wide spectrum of different parishes in the RCC, all driven by local laity input. All of the mainline Protestant churches have a lot of laity control of the parish - including the hiring and firing of priests. Just to look at Anglicanism, which is basically a microcosm of containing both RCC (high church) and Calvinist (low church) styled parishes. In the mainline church I attend, the laity (the Friends in 2x2 lingo) has control over finances, maintenance, hiring/firing, etc, and even so far as to restrict what things the priest can discuss in his sermon. By control I mean that the laity votes on committees, votes on a board of directors, etc. If you are paying member, you have a vote. The parish is nearly 100% laity driven. The priest is a spiritual advisor and nothing more - not a marriage counselor, not a money manager, not dispute resolver, not a child rearing expert, not a fashion advisor, not a entertainment advisor, not a friendship veto, etc. And these priests are considered spiritual advisors because they have been formally trained at very reputable institutions to do so. We do not hire untrained people to do spiritual work. This type of laity control over the parish is unheard of in 2x2ism.
And yes, despite your protests to the contrary, it is your 2x2 problems (particularly your org structure) which define you. Improve your org structure and alot of your other problems will solve themselves very quickly. You've had 2x2 Friends and Workers running around for more than 100 years claiming that the Bible explicitly states that minsters must travel in pairs, something that even a 85 IQ could figure out was complete nonsense with one reading the the 4 Gospels. You tell me just how such a ridiculous claim was able to exist for so long (still does) in your organization as front and center doctrine. There is only one way to have such a ridiculous belief go unchallenged for so long, and that is to have a despotic org structure which prohibits outside interaction and questioning. Ask yourself how so many (not all) of the other churches avoided many of the problems that 2x2ism has committed. Many have avoid exclusivity. Many have avoided dumb dumb interpretations of Scripture ( Matt 10, Trinity, Grace). Many have avoid spiritually abusing its members. Many have avoided legalistic nonsense about behavior (dress, tv, radio, etc). Many have avoided being unresponsive to the issues raised by its members.
These are all things which are called 'no-brainers'. Meaning that it takes a very bad org structure to commit these kinds of mistakes. And 2x2ism committed those types of mistakes. All of your problems, from the big to the small, are baked into your org structure. Build a house with a bad foundation, and your house will be full of problems - that's 2x2ism in a nutshell. You definitely did not build your house on the Rock of Peter. Like the foolish man in the parable, you built your house on sand, and now it is all coming crashing down. www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207:24-27
Ok, so you admit 2x2ism has a bad org structure. Now what? Can you ask the Overseers to change the org structure? You can, but they have no interest in changing it. You can ask the Workers to change it, but they have no say in the matter. But here is what you Friends can do:
1) For each house meeting group, have an election for the position of elder. Have the election every 2 or 3 years. You can separate the physical location of the meeting from the position of 'elder'.
2) For each 'field', have an election for the position of 'worker'. Tell the State/Province Head Worker that your 'field' will no longer accept Workers in your field unless they have been elected by the 'field'. You can elect any Worker you want - even ones who are not yet Workers. Any Worker who knew that a majority of people in a particular field wanted them, would be very happy to be there.
3) For each 'field', elect one person for the position of 'comptroller'. Have elections for this role every 3 years, with a maximum of no more than 3 terms (9 years for one person). This person will open a bank account in your 'field', and all money donations from Friends in that field are to be deposited in that account. The comptroller will be responsible for presenting the bank statements to a meeting of all the elders once a quarter (90 days). The Workers in your 'field' will be given ATM cards for that bank account, cards which have daily/weekly/monthly limits on them - limits set by a meeting of the elders.
4) For each 'field' elect 7 people (not related to elders) who are responsible for resolving disputes in the field. Election every 3 years, max 3 terms. Any Friend who believes they have been improperly treated by Elders or Workers can ask for a 'hearing' of this Dispute Board. The Dispute Board meetings are open to anyone who wants to attend, though only the Board and the folks directly in the dispute can speak. The minutes of the Board Meeting are recorded and distributed to anyone who wants to see them.
5) Each house meeting group should have at least one ecumenical meeting per year. That is, the members of the house meeting group should have one inter-faith meeting with folks from a different denomination each year. Just a small 2 hour get together with food to exchange ideas about each others' churches and Christian fellowship.
6) Have the elders in your field write a Doctrine Statement - things that you all agree about your faith, including what is not allowed. All the Friends in the field then vote to accept/reject the Statement.
7) Have the elders in your field write a Constitution for your field - things like the roles of Workers, the roles of Elders, how people get those jobs, how they are removed, etc. These should be the Bylaws of your Field. All the friends in the field then vote to accept/reject the Constitution. Once you have a Constitution, you now have an agreed upon process for what to do and what not to do.
These are all things that you can do right NOW at your local house meeting level. You will never make changes by writing letters to Overseers or Workers. Folks have been doing that for over 100 years, and it has got nothing done. You need to do it yourselves. If you make these changes, it will spread like wildfire through the whole 2x2 system. Once the changes are in a majority of fields, then the fields can make big changes to the org structure of the Overseers/Workers. Big changes. But you have to start at the bottom - the local level where you are in control.
By the way, read the book Animal Farm. It's a nice novel about 2x2ism. Take the sheep parts to heart.