The Blessing and Curse of Affinity Groups

Following the recent defeat of Amendment A in the presbyteries, a number of groups across the spectrum released statements announcing their official reactions. The statements, given their source, were entirely predictable, each group trying to put the best spin on the outcome.

Ten Things I Have Learned About Christian Educators in 40 years

Ten is a good round number. There are lots of lists of 10. After spending more than 40 years in the field of Christian education in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I would like to share 10 things I have learned about Christian educators.

Who are the educators? They are the DCEs, pastors, certified educators, graduates with majors in Christian education, part-time staff and volunteers. They are the ones who see Christian education as a high calling of service, to equip the saints for ministry, to build up the body of Christ.

The Five-fold Path to Recovering Unity in the PC(USA)

Many people today are wondering what the future holds for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Our differences seem to be getting bigger rather than smaller. Our denomination is one that is seeking unity. But, so far, real unity has eluded us. Trying to achieve unity is like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:14). The harder we try to attain it, the more it slips through our fingers. What is it that will bring us together?

The Letter and the Spirit of the Law

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has just completed a 25-year theological-legal debate over ordination standards with a resounding reaffirmation of the “fidelity-chastity” requirement for ordination of ministers and church officers. Presbyteries have voted to disapprove an amendment that would have undone the legislative work of the whole church in recent years.

Bring Traditional Commitments Back to Center Stage

Two deleterious movements began after the celebratory march down Peachtree Avenue in Atlanta following the reunion vote in 1983. Groups began to move in different directions and factionalism took on new life. Second, the predecessor denominations’ commitment to racial integration and interest in economic justice were moved off center stage and replaced by issues associated with human sexuality.

Help for the Task Force

The views expressed in this article are my own, not those of the Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity on which I serve. In successive editorials, Outlook editor Robert Bullock voices high hopes for the task force. His expression of confidence in the task force and his offer of prayers are most welcome.

Overtures Would Improve Amendment Process

An eagerness for peace lies at the heart of five overtures to the 214th General Assembly meeting this summer, each having to do with the denomination’s process for amending the Book of Order.

Olympia Presbytery sounds the concern plainly. As a rationale for proposing that the General Assembly vote on amendments to the Book of Order only every fifth year, Olympia writes, "The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been in a constant battle over divisive constitutional issues for years and years and years."

‘Comfort, O Comfort My People’

"Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORDís hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:1-2).

We Presbyterians have been in bondage for a long time. We have allowed ourselves to become trapped in a never-ending cycle of violence. We have absolutized our theological positions in such a way as to deny the rule of the living God.

Holmes Sweet Holmes

Teaching at a theological seminary has its fun moments, but it is mostly the serious business of trying to provide survival skills for the leadership of the church.  Presbyterians especially obey Our Lord's command to worship God with the mind (Mk 12:30; Mt 22:37; Lk 10:27).  Obviously we need first-rate institutions to nurture first-rate ministry.  I am truly grateful for my quarter century on a seminary faculty and the importance of the subjects I teach.

Discerning the Spirits

As Presbyterians seek to make sense of the church — the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — into which they have been called by the Lord Jesus to serve God and our fellow humans, the need to discern the spirits is more important than ever. And with the rising significance of this activity is the reality of its increasing difficulty — for all the reasons enumerated in recent offerings in this space — distraction, ignorance, indifference, self-seeking.