Friday, June 30, 2006

Give me fundamental honesty

You ask a direct question. You expect a direct answer.

But don't expect it if you ask a leader of a mainline denomination. You ask a direct question, and you get indistinct verbal ooze.

Presbyterian example: In a newly released FAQ sheet about the recent adoption of the PUP report, the fact-sheet writers dance around their own question!

Will gays and lesbians now be ordained?

Presbyteries and sessions have been reminded of their historical responsibility to examine candidates for ordination and decide, on a case-by-case basis, about a person’s qualifications for ministry. The constitutional standard in the Book of Order (G-6.0106b) requiring “fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman” or “chastity in singleness” remains in place.

Each governing body will be required to decide if a departure from a standard of faith or practice represents a violation of an “essential” of the faith. Governing bodies have been encouraged to strive to honor one another’s ordination decisions. Still, these decisions continue to be subject to review by higher governing bodies.

Well, that pretty well does it, except for answering the question of whether gays and lesbians will now be ordained! Just answer the question, Stated Clerk! Pastors everywhere have had to come up with a real answer for their parishioners. You can do it, too.

United Methodist example: A pastor in Tacoma, Washington, Monty Smith, has opened First United Methodist Church as a sanctuary to military personnel who refuse to go to war. He was interviewed on the Fox Network's "Hannity and Colmes" show, and when pressed with direct questions became absolutely elusive. Rich Lowry had to interrupt and ask and ask again the most basic questions to get him simply to answer. Click here for a video of the frustrating interview--frustrating if you think Christians ought to be honest.

Episcopalian example: Probably the reigning champion of elusive babble has to be Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). Recently Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, floated a plan that would create two tiers of relationship to the Anglican Communion. It was obviously a necessary move to counter the determined rebellion of the Episcopal Church, and it was timed shortly after the election of the woman who would succeed Griswold--a woman whose theology slops over the boundaries acceptable to most Anglicans. So would Griswold acknowledge the obvious relationship between Episcopal actions and Williams's plan, which would demote American Episcopalians basically out of the Anglican Communion? Does Griswold name the concern and speak to it? No. Read his elliptical ramble here. Griswold appears unable to speak without fundamental deception, refusing to acknowledge the rhinocerous that is not only in the room but at the moment is sitting on him.

These are Christian leaders. Wouldn't you expect a little refreshing honesty, plain-spoken and clear? Sad.


Blogger TomGray said...

Thanks so much for your faithful reporting. Our GP came back from GA with the contradictory mantra, "nothing changed, if anything, we'll have a stronger stance or ordnation now." He won't budge from this. I feel the same thing from the pastoral letter sent by Moderator Gray and our Stated Clerk.
The denominational spin is that PUP did nothing.

9:18 AM, July 01, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

It IS interesting that the commentary on the PUP report is all over the map. Ed Koster, a seasoned stated clerk from Detroit, swears up and down that the new A.I. will make it HARDER to ordain practicing homosexual persons.

Jim Tony and Gordon Fish, very experienced Presbyterian legal beagles, argue that the A.I. makes any section of the constitution optional by ordaining body vote, and thus throws the door wide open to such ordinations.

And the chief arbiter on such matters, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick has waffled and evaded the question so far. You ask him the time, and he tells you how a watch is made. You go away still wondering what time it is.

My big question is this: If NOTHING CHANGED because of the new A.I. on G-6.0108, in what sense can it be called a "solution" to our problems of peace, unity, and purity? If everything remains the same, surely the PUP process and report have to be considered a colossal exercise in futility.

3:03 PM, July 01, 2006  
Blogger Carl Grosse said...

The last statement in your response to Tom's comment hits the nail on the head. For all practical purposes, nothing has changed. After four years and all those meetings, the TTF simply restated standard Presbyterian theology, so that's nothing new. As for ordination issues, the TTF only makes "normative" what has been happening across the PCUSA, namely: a patchwork of processes and interpretations of standards that keeps PJCs in business. There's a line in "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who that says, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." This official adoption of the status quo is the only thing that could make TAMFS and The Layman both angry, and the muddled middle wanting to just get on with business as usual.

7:34 AM, July 03, 2006  

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