The Guest Viewpoint by Jerry Andrews and reply by Robert Bullock and me offers a poignant example of Christian friends engaging each other -- reluctantly -- in disagreement. What are we to make theologically of this fact: that disagreement seems to be a permanent mode of the church's existence?
The theology, constitution and policy of our church, in concert with the church universal and ecumenical, teaches that sexual expression belongs only within the covenant of marriage. The polity of the church is to conform to the profession of the church, as our Preliminary Principles say: "We are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty."
I have experienced an epiphany, or at least a reawakening of personal hope for our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In a day when it seems that our beloved church is being torn asunder by irreconcilable issues, such as the Amendment O debate, little did I realize that a request from my session would lead me to a rediscovery of hope for the church.
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.