But first, an argument in favor of the CCP. I genuinely appreciate the Commission on a Way Forward spending time and energy on a creative plan that deliberately avoids any perception of winners and losers. At a different time I think I could have advocated for this plan. I appreciate that, like the OCP the CCP gives space for differences of opinion. I appreciate that it gives us more flexibility from an unfortunately large and burdensome Book of Discipline. Following, though, are some fatal flaws that make it Dead on Arrival at General Conference.
1. The CCP Simply Cannot Pass
On the day in 2016 when General Conference broke I'm convinced that nothing of substance could get a majority vote. Time has passed and now I do think a majority could vote for the right plan. But the CCP has 8 constitutional amendments that require a super-majority. That's just not going to happen. But what if somehow it did? For the CCP to take effect it has to be approved not only by General Conference, but by a 2/3 aggregate vote of the annual conferences. Remember that in 2016-17 we couldn't get a 2/3 vote on women's rights. If we can't get 2/3 agreement on that it is unfathomable that we would get a 2/3 vote on all of the CCP amendment.
2. The CCP Has Not Been Fully Vetted
Last October the Judicial Council ruled on the constitutionality of both the OCP and the TP. Their rulings are one reason why the TP now is struggling so much. They did not, however, review the CCP. As mentioned above, the authors of the CCP have identified 8 constitutional amendments that are needed. There is no guarantee, however that those are the only amendments needed. It is very conceivable that if the CCP somehow got the requisite vote at General Conference the Judicial Council would then rule it is still unconstitutional. We've then completely wasted time and money and are back to drawing board in 2020.
3. The CCP Timeline Is Unworkable
The published timeline for implementation of the CCP shows that it will not be fully implemented until 2025. We have two general conferences between now and then. We have six more years for voting patterns to shift and for culture to shift. The WCA has vowed to leave if anything other than the Traditional Plan passes. If they stay true to that then we could have a very different church in the next 6 years. At a time when most of us recognize that institutions need to be more nimble the CCP locks us into one mode for the next 6 years.
4. It Is the Separation Before the Divorce
This has been my chief complaint from the beginning. The thesis of the CCP is that we have so many theological differences that the only way forward as one denomination is to separate ourselves into three mini-denominations segregated by theology. Note first that this is precisely the same way that American society has segregated itself politically. The result of our political segregation is political extremism and animosity towards those who we disagree with. The CCP institutionalizes echo chambers that we speak into at a time when we especially need to listen to those we disagree with. The echo chambers will simply reinforce what we already believe, reinforce our stereotypes, and ultimately drive us further away from each other.
In his 2008 book Staying at the Table, Bishop Scott Jones wrote that "liberals need conservatives and conservatives need liberals." He's right. This is what the One Church Plan provides. The CCP isolates us from each other before an inevitable divorce. Don't let that happen.