With the vote of South Louisiana Presbytery on Feb. 19, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has obtained the simple majority needed for the defeat of Amendment A, maintaining the "fidelity/chastity" provisions regarding ordination standards in the Book of Order. Should the current voting patterns continue in the presbyteries remaining to vote, where the pro-gay proposal is being rejected by a two-to-one margin, the defeat will signal the strongest affirmation to date on the part of the vast majority of Presbyterians in preserving the biblical witness to marriage between a man and a woman, and in upholding those standards for ordained leadership. This is an encouraging sign of renewal.
The National Board of More Light Presbyterians recognizes with regret that Amendment A has been defeated. We are profoundly grateful for the 29 presbyteries and overture advocates, the Ordination Standards committee and the 212th General Assembly that sent Amendment A by a margin of 60 percent to all of our presbyteries for discernment and consideration.
With the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seeking a way forward in these times of theological and political conflict, some have suggested a "third way," and now The Presbyterian Outlook has urged a "third force." Presbyterians for Renewal believes what is really needed is a recommitment to the Third Person of the Trinity.
Formerly a United Methodist minister, I am now Presbyterian. Methodists don't use the line, "He descended into Hell" as part of the Apostles' Creed. It was always hidden in the footnotes, a part of the traditional creed, something no longer used. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), people affirm their faith as a community, in response to hearing the Word of God.
As the writer of all but two words of the "Affirmation of the Lordship of Christ" that was adopted by the 213th General Assembly (2001), I want to thank the Office of Theology and Worship for their statement, "Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ." The statement is longer and more fully developed than the short affirmation by the Assembly, but the two declarations are in complete harmony.
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.
Over the last 10 years, we have seen an increasing incidence of candidates for the ministry and ministers transferring from one presbytery to another using functional language such as "Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer" to refer to the Trinity. This avoids using the personal language of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
All Christians are called upon to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As Presbyterians we make this confession guided by what our church has stood for through the ages. For Presbyterian Church leaders in particular, this guidance is embodied in the literature collected in our Book of Confessions. As ordained leaders we vow to
sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do.
All of us who are or have been pastors know what it is like to be in the middle of a marital or family counseling session and realize that what the parties are arguing about isn’t really the issue. They may be talking (or yelling) about a child’s grades, but the problem for the family lies elsewhere. The grades are merely what they’ve decided to argue about.