Saturday, June 10, 2006

Those who will not see

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” That’s a quotation from the fictitious character Little Donny Dark in the 1972 film “Butterflies Are Free.”

I got that feeling today as I read the sour-grapes remark of Jim Rigby, the controversial pastor of the Austin, Texas, church that had admitted to membership a man who believes there is no God. Rigby was bitter, obviously, because his presbytery had (quite rightly) ruled that the church was in error and needed to correct its ways.

According to a news story in the San Antonio Express-News, Rigby explained it all with this caustic remark: “Some people just have to feel like they're better than somebody else.” The “some people” he was referring to are the majority of his colleagues in Mission Presbytery.

Granted that Rigby was disappointed. Granted that he felt the sting of disapproval by his peers. Granted that it is an emotional matter (and not the first in-your-face action by this radical pastor). But really, now! Is it necessary for him to posit such base motivation for those with whom he disagrees? How uncharitable! How opposite from being truly liberal, actually!

It has become the common contention for those who operate strictly in a political and power-based world view to assume that everyone around them is doing so as well. Not so! Some people actually operate by biblical convictions and a desire to follow God’s will.

If there was even one Mission Presbytery presbyter among the 156 who voted counter to Rigby out of a desire to “feel better than somebody else,” I would be utterly astonished. Those presbyters much more likely agonized over their votes, wished they could simply let the issue slide, wanted to do what was proper nonetheless, looked to prayer and guidance from the Bible and our Book of Order, and then cast votes for what was upright and good--good not just for the presbytery, but for the atheist and his anything-goes congregation, too.

Rigby, apparently, is so blinded by dogma or bitterness that he just will not see what is going on in his colleagues. That’s sad, sadder than a church member with nothing much to believe because a church has nothing much to proclaim.


Blogger Mission Presbyterian said...

As one of the 156 who voted in favor of the COM recommendation, it was most assuredly NOT out of needing "to feel better than others". If there was anything about feeling better, it was, out of needing to "feel better" about Mission Presbytery.
Dr. Rigby and that Session have been in a state of rebellion for many years with Mission Pby failing on numerous occasions and opportunities to say "NO!" to them and "YES!" to God and presbyterian polity. The deeper feeling was of sadness at being forced to cast any vote in a case like this.
Dr. Rigby and the Session of St. Andrew's, to say nothing of Dr. Jensen, are not so much victims of Mission Presbytery as they are of Dr. Rigby's and the SAPC Session's own misbehavior, namely, the willful rejection God's wisdom in favor of their own human folly. Now they do not like the situation THEY have largely created for themselves. They, apparently, thought there would be no consequences this go 'round, based on presbytery's previous non-feasance in earlier, similar situations.

1:13 PM, June 12, 2006  
Blogger Al Sandalow said...

I love this sentence in Jim's response:

"One of our Session members panicked and said that we did not use creeds, had no criterion for membership and did not use the word “Lord”."

I have this image of a person jumping up from their chair, running frantically around the room, arms flailing in the air, shouting aloud about the session's lack of standards.

I suspect it wasn't that dramatic, but when you say "panicked", it does give a interesting image.

2:30 PM, June 12, 2006  

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