Ran across a quote I found interesting in a book I’m proofreading the other day on Paul’s correspondence in 1 Corinthians about church order:
Paul does not settle a question of disorder or division with a form of order or an organizational structure. Rather he underlines the diversity of contribution by naming it as a gift from the risen Christ. He leaves open the full effect of that variety according to the core principle of love. Love is more abiding than faith and hope, it is certainly more fundamental than arrangements of order. This is extraordinarily high risk in group dynamic terms. In theological terms, it is a stunning assertion of confidence in the creative ordering of divine presence.
The quote is taken from Conflict and the Practice of Christian Faith by Bruce Kaye, p. 16-17 (forthcoming from Cascade Books).
I think it is a pretty important point on the issue of the meaning and function of church order, at least insofar as we seek to have the apostolic witness of the New Testament inform such issues in our own context. Here Paul sounds remarkably Johannine, lacking even a hint of what would later come to be called Petrine in his recommendations for dealing with conflict in the church.