Issue Number 3
What in PSNE and
The facts please, just the facts...
"Scripture and our Confessions teach that God's intention for all people is to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness. Church property shall not be used for, and church officers shall not take part in conducting, any ceremony or event that pronounces blessing or gives approval of the church or invokes the blessing of God upon any relationship that is inconsistent with God's intention as expressed in the preceding sentence."
Rationale for Our Concurrence
The proposed rationale is our chance to share the gift of our witness with the greater church. At the heart of it is:
Respect for diversity is a central requirement for the peace and unity of the church.... Whether individual or corporate, the right of private judgment is a necessary one. It includes the right to be wrong.... The church protects its own minority point of view as if it were protecting its future, recognizing that the dissenter may well represent the will of God....The majority of the rationale is excerpted from Historic Principles, Conscience and Church Government, <http://horeb.pcusa.org/oga/diversity/conscience.htm> adopted in 1983 at the first General Assembly of the reunited church. That was a time filled with anxiety that merger would force people to give up their deeply held beliefs. It still applies.
The rationale recognizes we will not soon reach agreement about standards for ordination and installation or about the even more fundamental issues which divide us. It does not ask anyone to give up his or her convictions and beliefs. It does ask us to respect each other in our differences. We cannot hope for prayerful, responsible dialogue in a situation where one party or another feels threatened and under judgment. 'b' creates a situation in which Christians seem encouraged to bring charges against others who faithfully profess the name of Jesus. Even if no charges had been brought, when some of the parties to a conversation have 'outlawed' the beliefs of others, the opportunities for honest and prayerful seeking are greatly diminished.
The issues often seem too toxic to discuss. Still, we need to acknowledge our divisions. The general lament that American churches are losing members should be recognized as schism -- schism by attrition. Many people have concluded, often very painfully, that the Gospel is not found in the churches. Some have sought more conservative or evangelical forms, but many have found no organization demonstrating Good News. They have found no way to reconcile their experience of Gospel with a Church which burdens them with guilt.
We are charged to recognize all who call on the name of the Lord. We may agree on the Way, but in our pilgrimages we do not all start from the same place so we do not all travel the same road. Honoring the diversity of the faithful is a major theme in Paul's writing, as it was for Peter. Jesus' ministry was controversial in no small part because he touched those who were outside the religious norm. We may well remember that before Pilate Jesus was a minority of one.
Getting rid of 'b' will simply improve our chances of hearing the gifts of our many minorities. Your faithful presence is urgently needed at this November meeting!
... in Heaven???We cannot know what is happening in heaven but Walter Wink's The Powers That Be is a helpful guide to understanding how cosmic events affect us here on earth. Wink points to a spiritual dimension in all hu-man institutions and also recognizes that some spirits may be demonic (in modern terms, pathological). The demonic spirits are spirits, though, NOT individuals. We need recognize something of the faithful and something of the faithless in all our endeavors and institutions. We are, none of us, perfectly good or perfectly bad. We have all sinned....
Writing about the Institute for Democracy Studies research, Lewis C. Daly begins, "The mainstream Presbyterian Church (USA) is infested with demons, according to a small but increasingly potent network of activists operating within the 2.6 million-member denomination." [Spiritual Warfare in the Presbyterian Church <http://www.institutefordemocracy.org/warfare.html>]
I agree! -- as long as these activists do not mistake individuals for demons. How else would good, loving, faithful, prayerful people be found using Scripture and the church to marginalize other good, loving, faithful, prayerful people? And while the barbs and arrows coming my way may seem sharper to me, I am well aware that our demonic entrapment in hurting each other shows no respect for theological perspective. It goes both ways.
There are profound theological issues behind this debate. Our spiritual lives depend on it. But let us acknowledge we are all in it together and none of us is in a position to reject another's wisdom. Can't we remove this 'b'arrier between us? Why are we afraid of other Christians?
In case we do have to debate and vote, please read the pamphlet prepared by Rev. Bear Ride and others in the More Light movement.
Carl Dudley, faculty member at Hartford Seminary, served as the Retreat Moderator. He asked members to reflect on several crucial questions:
The most striking moment of the day was the point at which the group identified allies in this work. Many of us have felt too small, too busy, or too fractured to be effective. But when we are able to expand our vision of who “we” are, the positive effect is stunning. Whether our friends and supporters are local congregations and their pastors, social service organizations, students and youth, businesses, or civil rights groups, it is clear that the success of Presbyterian Promise will be greatest if and when we reach out to these allies and share the work at hand.
Sincere thanks to Letty Russell for hosting the retreat and to Dick Hasbany, Craig Machado and Letty for planning the event.
September 13, 2000 -- Lawmakers in the Netherlands, long among the gay-rights vanguard, approved a bill today to convert the country's registered same-sex partnerships into full-fledged marriages, complete with divorce guidelines and wider adoption rights for gays. ...
Minister calls for church progressives to issue another ‘Auburn Affirmation’
by Alexa Smith - Presbyterian News Service - September 19, 2000
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A minister in Rochester, N.Y., has called for a convocation
to reclaim the Presbyterian Church (USA) "for the principles and the person,
Jesus Christ, on which it was founded." The gathering would be held in
Auburn, N.Y., the site of historic conference in the 1920s that rallied
the denomination’s progressives against a fundamentalist faction that had
defined Presbyterian orthodoxy by five doctrinal tenets. Another "Auburn
Affirmation" is overdue, the Rev. David Bos, interim pastor, told the members
of the Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester. The Affirmation,
written in 1923, argued that the Presbyterian church must "safeguard liberty
of thought and teaching among its ministers" — and that the vows they take
at ordination do so sufficiently, without requiring subscription to other
particular doctrines. …MORE….
Is published by