Thursday, February 14, 2008

More About the PJC Decisions

Bob Davis of Presbyblog has summarized yesterday's decisions of the PC(USA) Permanent Judicial Commission and provided useful links to the relevant PJC decisions.

"The decisions have been issued:

Buescher, et al v. Olympia Presbytery (218-09)

Bush, et al v. Pittsburgh Presbytery (218-10)

1st Presbyterian Church, Washington, et al v. Washington Presbytery (218-15)

Also released and relevant is Advisory Opinion #21 from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. ..."

Personally, I wish they would write those decisions in plain English rather than lawyer-speak, but at least there is an advisory opinion that provides the official version of events.

Bob Davis points out that decisions of the PJC are authoritative interpretations themselves.

Probably the most significant outcome of these three decisions of the PJC is that Constitutional requirements for ordination cannot be changed by an "authoritative interpretation" of a particular General Assembly. In fact, the PJC seems to have upheld the AI arising from the Peace, Unity, and Purity report and makes it clear that it did not set aside any requirements for ordination, nor did it provide a loophole that would permit such requirements to be ignored.

Another related aspect of all this was the rejection of enumerated lists of essentials that many presbyteries had published following GA217. The PJC considered these and other restatements of what the Book of Order already says to be redundant, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. The presbyteries in question had a reasonable belief that the authoritative interpretation would be used to do an end run around the Book of Order. Subsequent events bore this out. By issuing the three rulings together, the PJC upheld the Book of Order, thus demonstrating to the presbyteries that the various restatements of ordination requirements were unnecessary.

I hope that some trust is being restored in our denomination. These decisions are a positive development.

4 comments:

David Esche said...

These GAPJC decisions, it seems to me, will focus the attempts of the Covenant Network and other More Light organizations on the removal of G-6.0106b post haste.

Denis Hancock said...

It's hard to say.

The voting trends since G-6.0106b came into effect do not suggest that there will be much traction for removal. The GA may send it to the presbyteries, but the margin of defeat for such overtures has widened over the past 10 years.

Anonymous said...

I am seeing in my presbytery (Great Rivers) enough swing since the last time that the outcome could be different for us.

David Esche said...

I am seeing in my presbytery (Great Rivers) enough swing since the last time that the outcome could be different for us.