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Thinking Outside the Box, Part 1: Further Reflections on a Third Way for Our Church

I start with a basic intuition. Whenever a long and protracted debate rages in the church, chances are that it cannot be resolved because significant truth actually exists on both sides. In such cases neither side can discern the truth represented by its opponents. Nor can either accommodate the truth important to the other within its own, highly polarized modes of thought. Only by thinking outside the box can the controversy be resolved.

Thinking Outside the Box, Part 4: The Voice of ‘Progressive Traditionalists’

People who think outside the box threaten to become invisible. They do not fit within the conventional categories. In our situation, theological and political liberalism are usually linked. Theological and political conservatism are also linked. Few find this situation odd, even though a case could be made that, properly, theological liberalism tends toward political conservatism, and theological conservatism toward political liberalism.

Thinking Outside the Box, Part 2: On the “Plain Sense” of Holy Scripture

In our church we are constitutionally committed to a high view of the authority of Holy Scripture. This commitment reflects not only the Reformed tradition, but also (as ought not to be overlooked) the broad consensus of the entire ecumenical church. Although there are still significant differences in the ecumenical church about how to think in accord with Scripture, the day is long since gone when Reformation churches could assume that only they are the custodians of binding scriptural authority.

We Cannot Have It All

Common sense tells us that you canít have it all. A sign in a farm equipment dealerís repair shop states: "We do three types of jobs — Cheap, Quick and Good. You can have any two. A good quick job — wonít be cheap; a good job cheap — wonít be quick; a cheap job quick — wonít be good."

Where to Start?

This column in recent weeks has provided an ongoing examination of and commentary on the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as it is in fact today. To sum it up, we’re like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of the oncoming car. Frozen in place. In deadly peril. But unable to do anything but stand in place and wait for it to happen.

Fortunately, we Presbyterians know who is the driver of the ongoing vehicle: the sovereign, loving merciful God. In that fact lies our only hope.

Redefining ‘Peace, Unity and Purity’ in the Church

When the General Assembly appointed a task force to explore what ails the church, the task force members decided to call their group the "Peace, Unity and Purity Task Force." These simple words have been in our ordination rubrics for decades: "Do you promise to further the póó, uóó and póó of the church?" Any minister and almost all officers can fill in the blanks. And yet, those three little words ensnare us in controversy when the going gets rough in the church. As it is now.

The Faith of the Church

The faith of the church is not something we formulate but which, instead, has been given to us through Godís self-disclosure in Jesus Christ, the Holy Scriptures and the confessions of the church ó ancient and modern ó and the preaching of the church. Faith, most fundamentally, is the childlike trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God, but equally important it is our understanding about who God is, who we are and Godís intention for the redemption of fallen humanity in the good creation.

Anaconda Statement of Conscience

A Statement of Conscience

Respectfully submitted to the Presbytery of Yellowstone

By the Session of 1st Presbyterian Church

Anaconda, Montana

March 4, 2002

We, the Session of 1st Presbyterian Church of Anaconda, Montana, after careful study and prayerful reflection, respectfully inform the Presbytery of Yellowstone that we cannot in good conscience comply with any interpretation of Book of Order provision G-6.0106b that restricts the rights of governing bodies to discern the will of Christ in choosing leaders. Therefore, we declare:

A Running Behind

In democratic America every person is supposed to be equal to every other person.  However, in spite of this quondam theory, a lot of people regard themselves as superior not equal.  They prefer to be leaders rather than followers.  This is a perfectly understandable desire because on a sled run, only the lead dog gets to look at the scenery.  All the other dogs are looking at something else.  In fact, what the other dogs see and what they do can both be described as a "running behind."