For more than 50 years, The Presbyterian Outlook and its predecessor publications worked passionately for the reunion of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A./United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church, U.S. -- the Southern branch separated from the main body since 1861. Year after year, patiently and persistently, our editors worked through individual Presbyterians, North and South, and through the governing bodies of the church to make reunion possible.
I would like to make three comments on Robert Bullock's important editorial, "A Sacred Trust." Before I do that, let me say that even though I differ with him on a number of issues, not the least of which is Amendment O, I know that Robert is a dedicated servant of Jesus Christ and of the PC(USA).
Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but part of the problem with Presbyterians today is they do not often enough smell to high heaven.That is, Presbyterians look down their noses more regularly at bad order than at bad odor.Obviously God made human beings with five senses.Puzzling over how they worked together caused Aristotle to posit a "common sense" (De Anima, III).
Birds are among God's most beautiful creatures and bird watching in the world around us is a pure delight.People of the Middle Ages were also fascinated by birds and filled the borders of their manuscripts with obsessively accurate drawings of birds.Birds were regarded as cheerful, hopeful, impudent and above all free.They enrich our lives and some of them enrich our tables.
The range of responses to Alexander McKelway's reflections on the theology of homosexuality illustrates the diversity of perspectives in the Presbyterian Church today. Without commenting on the merits of what is said, I wish merely to note that each position is offered in good faith, and that each has a certain Christian plausibility to it.
Before the presbyteries for a vote, as the new year begins, is the issue of Amendment O. Narrowly passed last summer by the 212th General Assembly, Amendment O proposes an addition to the PC(USA) Directory of Worship to the effect that church property shall not be used for, nor shall any church officer "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" of monogamous marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.
By ceaseless and careless repetition, our society teaches us many things.Few Presbyterians under 40 years of age, I suspect, can distinguish between Rosinante and Dulcinea.However, everyone knows, and has been influenced by, Don Quixote's conviction, "When in Rome do as the Romans do"(Part II, Chapter 54).
All good teaching elders have bad consciences and genuine humility because first-class seminaries instruct them in how much there is to know about divine science (including human and natural science) and how little they ever will.In addition, Presbyterian seminaries do not encourage the notion that any amount of pious zeal can make up for abysmal ignorance.
These remarks are inspired by A. J. McKelway's thoughtful reconsideration of "Definitive Guidance," the grandmother of our present impasse. Our church now has before it Amendment O on homosexuality and marriage. I hope it will be defeated. Concerning the ordination of gays and lesbians, we have not yet convened a real theological debate on the issues/dilemmas raised by that issue.