For me, if political questions are off the table, then our future is in doubt. I don't think anyone would say I'm not interested in doctrine, theology, or practice - but I would also argue that church polity is a treasure trove of good questions about how Christians actually practice.
We have no problem asking about filioque, because in our minds that's "doctrine." A thousand years ago, that would have been "politics." I'd argue, we hit the inerrancy question in a lot of ways, but we tend to avoid tackling the issue head on, because that's "politics," even though it is just as much about "doctrine."
Church governance is clearly a matter of politics, but I'd also argue its doctrine. I think I've said before the two things that tend to define any given denomination are soteriology and governance. We have a few questions on governance, but they are all fairly abstract - questions like Papal Infallability, Apostolic Succession, Congregationalist polity, etc...
We are willing to talk about the "safe" issues, but I'd argue not the relevant ones.
People want to know (or at least should want to know):
- Why is the church split over same-sex blessing?
- Why is the church split over inspiration & authority of scripture?
- Why is the church split over governance?
And, if we're willing to discuss institutions (which we should), why are we afraid to talk personalities who define those institutions? Luther taking on the Catholic church is okay, but Luter becoming the head of the SBC would probably scare a lot of people off.
I, for one, would love to ask "What does Fred Luter about X, Y, & Z?" but I suspect it would be closed and would scare off some people. In the Canterbury question, I really took offense at the "localized" charge, but I'm realizing I avoided the "speculative" one.
And that brings me back to the original place which is this - Why is every prognostication about the future considered speculative?
David Brooks, Nate Silver, and a whole host of other calm, rational people can intelligently and academically discuss what is "likely" going to happen, and do so in a way that brings light and not heat to the matter. I read fivethirtyeight.com on a regular basis. You cannot tell me that kind of analysis would not be of interest to experts and students alike.
I'm not suggesting that we should be all about handicapping the next church vacancies, but we should be encouraging questions that are most relevant - the "What happens next?" questions are, in my opinion, right on target.