Friday, October 20, 2006

Presbyterianism in ten words or fewer

At the recent meeting of the Presbyterian Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy in San Antonio (click here, here, and here), chair Gordon Edwards was bringing members up to date on what went on at the General Assembly Council meeting a couple of weeks earlier. "One of the issues that really kept surfacing there was communication," he reported, "and one aspect of communication … is that the Presbyterian Church needs to have a ten-word-or-less statement of who we are.”

Hmmm. That got me thinking. What might that brief statement be?

Well, if the need is there, who's better than Berkley Blog readers to step up and fill the need? You can come to the rescue of your denomination by proposing what you think that ten-word-or-less statement of who we are might be.

So just to get your creative juices flowing, here are some warm-up examples of brief lines that help people get a handle on the Presbyterian Church:

Presbyterians: We're not half bad.

The church with more heritage than future.

Deformed and always being deformed by the word of ambiguity.

Not half as big as Baptists or bad as Unitarians.

We not only believe in total depravity; we demonstrate it!

Committed to per capita and property--and not much else.

Everything you’ve always wanted in a church--and less!

Presbyterians: Boy, did we once know what we believed!

The church that put the “total” in depravity.

We don't know what to think about damned unbelievers.

We care more about you than God.

Forget sin. Forget rules. Forget the Bible. We're PRESBYTERIANS!

Nothing is essential if you don’t want it to be.

Presbyterians: Preserving our property for the posterity of progressives.

Well, you get the idea. Now it's your turn to submit your suggestions. You can use the "Comments" apparatus of this blog (click on "Comments" at the bottom of the posting). Remember, make it ten words or fewer.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Common-sense theology

If you're wanting to go directly to the bottom line of the new report on the sacraments, here, rather deep in the document, is the answer to the simple question about whether the invitation to the Table should be to all believers or all baptized believers (pp 20-21):

In conclusion, in our review of the literature the biblical-theological rationales used by those in favor of and opposed to open table practice seem to suggest that the fullest range of meanings of baptism and the Lord’s Supper—both God’s expansive love and forgiveness and the call to be a community of disciples, the body of Christ in the world—is preserved and embodied through the normative practice of baptism before Eucharist. However, there is a strong biblical crosscurrent, notably in Jesus’ inclusive meal practice and his breaking of certain purity laws that would seem to allow or even call for the disruption of those regular practices if and when those sacramental practices wrongly serve exclusionary purposes [emphasis added].

I haven't had a chance to digest the whole paper yet, which General Assembly approved and requested to be sent to congregations. But what I have read so far appears solid and reasonable, seeking both to uphold the sacred meaning of our sacraments and apply that meaning in today's context.

It will be interesting to see what other comments are offered and received, prior to a final report to be made to General Assembly in 2010.