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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?

‘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.

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."

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.

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.

Resurrection Life

God's raising Jesus from the dead on the third day is the central message of the Christian movement in every time and place. If the church ceases to preach Christ crucified ó and raised from the dead by God — it ceases to be the church.

We are in grave danger of ceasing to be the church. Jesus' resurrection from the dead — the good, glad tidings of God's triumph of life over the devil, sin and death — is far too infrequently preached in today's mainline church, including the Presbyterian, and with far too little conviction.

Servant Leadership

As we walk with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem where our Savior will be executed by the authorities as a common criminal, it behooves us to consider the issue of leadership in the church, which has been much talked about for some time now, the lack of it, that is. Yes we have leaders: pastors in pulpits, elders on session, deacons on diaconate, staff and elected officers in governing bodies from session to General Assembly, but there is a sense that the truly "great ones" are no longer among us.

Thinking Outside the Box, Part 3: On ‘Responsible Discretion’ Toward Ordination Candidates

From its earliest period the ecumenical church has recognized that some forms of life are incompatible with faith in the gospel. Baptism meant not only being incorporated into the church as the body of Christ, but also breaking decisively with the ways of the world. Certain worldly occupations — like prostitution, acting in the salacious dramas of the theater and military service — were regarded as impermissible, especially in the first three centuries. Certain practices, moreover — like incest, drunkenness and the abuse of worldly power — were cause for at least provisional excommunication. Bishops, presbyters and deacons, as officers in the church, were expected especially to live lives worthy of the gospel.