Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is there an answer?

Is there an answer? (free registration is required to read the full articles in The Presbyterian Outlook):
"Surely, our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) needs an answer. The net losses of 1,887,629 members and 1,985 churches, from the total of our two previous denominations in 1966, cry out for an answer. Lest you conclude that the answer would be to mount a major membership and church building drive, let me suggest that these dismal statistics, in reality, are the symptoms of a deeper malaise, the score card for a team in serious need of coming together for a common purpose.

The church universal, including our PC(USA) denomination, needs an answer. In this country, the church has lost its role of arbitrator/advocate for a moral and ethical society. The church is under attack by new age philosophies that challenge the church’s basic doctrines of sin, repentance, forgiveness and submission to the will of God. Respect for and confidence in the church is daily challenged by widely repeated voices of atheism and agnosticism. In Europe, the church is a remnant of echo-filled cathedrals and dwindling faithful. The church needs an answer...."

William H. "Bill" Wilson has had a long history of service to the PC(USA) and the PCUS, having served on various boards and as Synod of the Sun moderator and moderator of the 197th General Assembly. His words in this Presbyterian Outlook Guest Viewpoint are a timely reminder that we are in need of not only finding the answers, but asking the right question in the first place: "The answer needed by our church begins with one simple, but profound question: For what reason does the church exist?"

Wilson notes that there may be many good and diverse answers, but they will all, ultimately, converge on our witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world.

Given that most Presbyterians already believe this, why do we even need to say this? Wilson's point is that our preoccupation with our divisions gets in the way of our witness to the world around us. The message is mixed, and we need to clarify it.

What a difference it could make if the resources, both financial and human, that have been diverted to fighting among ourselves could be reallocated toward our mission to the world!

The Presbyterian Church (USA) needs to move forward in what unites us rather than be dragged down by what divides us.

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