Where to Start?

This column in recent weeks has provided an ongoing examination of and commentary on the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as it is in fact today. To sum it up, we’re like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of the oncoming car. Frozen in place. In deadly peril. But unable to do anything but stand in place and wait for it to happen.

Fortunately, we Presbyterians know who is the driver of the ongoing vehicle: the sovereign, loving merciful God. In that fact lies our only hope.

The Faith of the Church

The faith of the church is not something we formulate but which, instead, has been given to us through Godís self-disclosure in Jesus Christ, the Holy Scriptures and the confessions of the church ó ancient and modern ó and the preaching of the church. Faith, most fundamentally, is the childlike trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God, but equally important it is our understanding about who God is, who we are and Godís intention for the redemption of fallen humanity in the good creation.

The Peacable Kingdom

One of the great images of the Old Testament is the prophet Isaiah’s peaceable kingdom, of the holy mountain where all the beasts that tear at each other and destroy one another in real life find perfect harmony through the will and power of God.

As we enter the Lenten season, it is appropriate that we consider the biblical vision of peace — shalom — which is God’s goal for the good creation.

Everything That Rises Must Converge

Everything That Rises Must Converge is the name of a book of collected stories by distinguished 20th-century Southern writer Flannery O’Connor. Her vision of the kingdom of God is embedded in her stories. One in particular, "Revelation," ends with a vision of humanity in all of its magnificent diversity marching upwards into the heavens to greet the loving God who awaits with open arms.

A Word to Sisters and Brothers in the Confessing Church Movement

This month representatives of more than 1,000 of the more than 11,000 congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are gathering in Atlanta to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture and God’s call to holy living.

Like the Task Force for the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church authorized by the 213th General Assembly, this group seeks to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in response to the events unfolding in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Task Force

Into the midst of a denomination which finds itself hopelessly locked in a cyclical conflict that seemingly admits of no solution except for the destruction of one side or the other by its mirror opposite comes a Theological Task Force for the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, authorized by the 213th General Assembly (2001).

Now id the Time for a Third Force to Emerge in the Presbyterian Church

Now is the time for a third force to emerge in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The phrase "third force" rather than "third way" is offered, because the third way, if it exists at all, is not yet in sight. A genuine third way through the political thicket in which we are caught will be biblically and confessionally rooted, and will represent the consensus of the faithful that God’s will for our time has been discerned and must be affirmed.

The Politics of the Possible

The church has always had factions — even as the American republic has always had factions. At the time of the founding of the New Nation, our forebears sought to create a political system which would ensure some kind of balance of power among various interests in society. Thus was erected a federal system with division of power between the federal government and the state governments, and a separation of powers in the federal government through the creation of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. And the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments — erected a wall, since steadily strengthened, to safeguard individual liberties.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence in the PC(USA)

With the end of Christmas, the celebration of Epiphany – the gift of the gospel to all peoples and all nations – and the dawn of the second year of a new century and millennium, the issue of breaking the cycle of violence presents itself to us on many fronts.

The Broadening Church

The gospel is intended for all people. The church is to go to all nations. God's will is that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

As the late Lefferts Loetscher of Princeton Seminary in a book titled The Broadening Church taught us, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been a broadening church -- an inclusive church -- throughout its history, but becoming the people God wants us to be has not been easy.