Saturday, August 27, 2005

Further Reflections on the Task Force for Peace and Purity

Looking over various groups' initial reaction to the Task Force Report, it seems that many believe that "“local option"” is being promoted, including The Washington Post and The Presbyterian Layman. While this report passed unanimously, the members of Task Force were given an opportunity to make statements as reported by Presbyterians for Renewal. ” Not all were completely happy with the outcome, although many were pleased with the theological underpinnings of the report.

Here are several of my observations:
  • The Task Force's definition of the theological basis for our unity in Christ is well-grounded in Scripture, and provides a solid basis for their deliberations.
  • The art of listening is not particularly evident in Presbyterian debate. The Task Force made it a top priority to listen to each other and to build fellowship, setting an example for the wider Church to follow.
  • The Washington Post (free registration required) seems to have gotten it wrong in its headline “Church Panel Urges Gay-Clergy Change.” In fact, the Task Force made no recommendations for such change.
  • The mention of local application of constitutional standards seems to be interpreted as "local option", although the report explicitly states that "“local option"” is not viable in that the whole Church sets the standards. To depart from that is unpresbyterian.
  • In my opinion, there is already a de facto "local option"” in that some presbyteries have adopted a "don'’t ask, don'’t tell" approach.
  • Does continuing to fight over issues, where there is no realistic expectation of changing people's minds, build up the Body of Christ? The final section of the Task Force's report summarizes how people can be united in Christ while holding differences of opinion about some issues.
  • Can we divert the resources and energy spent in fighting among ourselves to furthering The Great Ends of the Church?
"The great ends of the church are the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world."” (The Book of Order G-1.0200)

One final observation: The first of the 7 recommendations the Task Force proposed was to (1) stay together as a denomination and to live in harmony with one another and (2) to urge that all levels of the PC(USA) remember their covenant relationship with one another. I agree wholeheartedly.

1 comment:

Michael W. Kruse said...

Good summary Denis. This has pretty much been my take so far.