In Thrall to the Law

Nothing is clearer, as we go through yet another around of decision-making about sexuality in the presbyteries, than that the Presbyterian Church is in the grip of legalism, which seems not to trust the gospel. We are trying to order our affairs as a church by the book, and the book is really not very helpful right now.

What is a Certified Christian Educator?

This year, presbyteries throughout the denomination will be considering a proposal [Amendment D] to require that churches pay certified Christian educators the minimum salary they set for pastors. It is important that before they vote, they understand what a certified Christian educator is.

Reconsidering ‘Definitive Guidance’

The church has been debating the issue of homosexuality for more than a quarter of a century to the neglect of more important issues and the creation of divisions within our fellowship which border on the catastrophic. So far, only two alternatives have been offered: that the church embrace homosexuality as simply another form of God's will for sexual life, or that the church condemn homosexuality as an egregious form of sin and deny office to homosexuals.

Living with Mortality

Yesterday Joan and I joined Hospice of the Valley. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever faced. By doing so I affirm that my cancerous condition is terminal and that in all likelihood I will die within six months. I also agree that in the light of my poor reaction to radiation the likelihood of significant help from chemotherapy is dubious. So I have opted for community and care and quality of life.

Christmas Eve

The candlelight service is over, the darkened church is locked and we set out into the cold, starry darkness of a Texas Christmas Eve.

The long ride home holds its own surprises as the headlights shine on the eyes of foraging late-night creatures.

Three Christmases

American Christians can celebrate three Christmases. The most obvious is secular Christmas. In Pittsburgh secular Christmas has been officially dubbed "Sparkle Season." Sparkle Christmas begins soon after Halloween. Unless you become a hermit or find another way to escape the world, this Christmas is impossible to avoid.

Thank God for the Scientists!

Charles L. Moffatt, Presbyterian minister, taught me to fear no truth, for all truth is from God. The other side of that is not to be afraid to challenge any claim to truth, for not all claims to truth are from God. That is to say, the church does not have to swallow whole every new teaching that comes down the pike.

Religion is More than Being Relevant

Lately it seems that we have had a resurgence in the use of the word "relevant." Everywhere I turn, someone is lauding something for being "relevant" or, more often, deriding something for not being "relevant."

Reformed realities

Presbyterians pride themselves on being realistic Christians. This is due to the Reformed emphasis that human nature is not perfect nor are human achievements self-sufficient. From a Reformed perspective, all cultural and scientific "advancements" are subject to theological scrutiny. What is sought is a reforming attitude toward the totality of life.