Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PRESBYTERIAN HABERDASHERY


Unless something totally unexpected happens Amendment 10-A will garner the necessary number of presbyteries voting in the affirmative to become a part of the Form of Government.  Here is the amendment with both deletions and additions:
Shall G-6.0106b be amended by striking the current text and inserting new text in its place as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-through; text to be added is shown as italic.]
                                
“b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003).  Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.

The section with the strike-through was originally added to the Form of Government in 1997.  The section in italics will soon replace that section.  It is my opinion that both either are or have a section that is intended to garner votes from those in the middle of the denomination who needed to be fooled in order to vote in favor of the amendment.  It is also my opinion that both failed miserably in this attempt and in fact were not necessary.
The current G-6.0106b was approved by the 1996 General Assembly.  A large minority of the GAPJC the previous year had clearly implied that Authoritative Interpretations of the Constitution were no longer going to cut it if the denomination wanted to continue to deny ordination to (using the words of the time) "self affirming, practicing homosexuals."  To deny that ordination those who opposed it saw that they would have to amend the Form of Government in a way that would pass the General Assembly and a majority of the presbyteries. 
I may be a starry-eyed idealist but I believe that the writers of the amendment really intended that heterosexuals involved in sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage and homosexuals involved in sexual relationships should be denied ordination.  It is also my opinion that they did not believe that such an amendment would pass the GA and the presbyteries if it only referred to sex.  Therefore the last line was added.  The last line gave the appearance of inclusion: that is inclusion of sins.  The last line was intended to say that the amendment was not just about sex, that amendment was equal opportunity.  If one sinned in any way and did not repent of that sin one could not be ordained.
I suggest that the last line fooled people as easily as the child who failed to see the emperor's new clothes.  Those who supported the amendment argued that the emperor (the amendment) was so clothed as to cover a multitude of sins.  Those opposed and those in "the broad middle of the church" (who are supposed to be ignorant and easily led around by the nose), were not fooled.  Everyone knew the primary purpose of the amendment was to deny ordination to self affirming, practicing homosexuals.  At that point in history a majority of the denomination opposed the ordination of a homosexual who was having sex with another homosexual.  It is my strong suspicion that the last sentence was not needed.  The only people who thought it was necessary to "fool" others were those who proposed the amendment.
14 years later, after voting on the issue several times the General Assembly of 2010 sent an amendment to the presbyteries, the lines in italics above.  An earlier attempt to simply remove the current wording had failed.  In 2010 the General Assembly proposed that the section of the Form of Government that denied ordination to self affirming, practicing homosexuals be replaced with a paragraph that requires stricter examinations for those seeking ordination and/or installation as  Ministers of Word and Sacrament, Elders or Deacons.
At the meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia today (the amendment passed 182-108) every single statement for or against the amendment was about ordination of self affirming, practicing homosexuals except one.  The exception was a short and clearly ignored speech by a wandering Don Quixote who tilted at the windmill of the amendment itself, namely me.  Again an amendment was dressed up in fine new clothes for the emperor (the amendment) and all the fine children noted that the emperor had no clothes and that the amendment was really about sex.  Each person voted on that basis, even this not so foolish Don Quixote.  It is my suspicion that an amendment to simply delete the current G-6.0106b would have passed this year.
All of which is to say that the "broad middle of the church," despite the opinions of those on the left and the right is not so easily fooled.  The whole denomination in both 1997 and 2011 knew what Amendment A (same letter both times!) knew what was at stake.  The amendments passed in 1997 and 2011 because both the denomination and the culture had changed.
And so I go back to tilting at windmills.  I hope that future amendments (which will not be about sex between persons of the same sex) will not be sent to the presbyteries by future General Assemblies with some idea that presbyters can and will be fooled.  Those who attend presbytery meetings are a rather canny bunch.  Let's just tell the truth and let the votes fall where they may.  Here I go, galloping toward that windmill.
Oh, and congratulations to those who have voted for and will vote for amendment 10-A.  To those who voted or will vote in opposition I say that Jesus is a tough guy and so is His Body.  The Church will endure, particularly if we stick together on the essentials (there, I said it: this issue not an essential!)  And to those who voted or will vote in the affirmative, let's go forward together doing the work of Christ.  I hope some of you will join me in tilting at windmills.  There are others that I think we all can agree should be knocked flat.

72 comments:

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

I'm so glad you came out and said it.

It has been clear to me for some time that, in the spirit of Westminster Chapter 1, this issue is not an essential one for anyone's salvation, and shouldn't be used as a litmus test for ordination.

Alan said...

Good luck. Your friends are too busy comparing those of us who support 10-A to Nazis, monsters, and demons while scheming about ways to leave the church without actually having the grapes to leave the church, and thinking about how many millstones they can fashion for drowning us.

But I'm happy to knock flat some windmills with you. Can we start with Synods? (How does one write a new form of government and never even touch the actual governmental structures? Leaves me baffled.) That should be an easy thing to agree upon.

How about reinvigorating mission by spending 10 years focusing on *one* mission field. Yeah, I know that would tick off those who have their particular pet projects, but no one says they can't use their own time and talents for that. Let's say we decide to spend 100% of mission resources on hospitals, or schools, or other infrastructure (heck, roads aren't sexy, but they're important) in a very small number of countries. Notice I say "or". That is, we do 10 years of focused work in a small area on one project until we've made a real difference instead of spreading ourselves all over the place throwing nickels and dimes at problems.

Or, we could invest in missionaries and send them across the US. Or what's wrong with taking a page from the Mormons and spending 10 years to establish the infrastructure and traditions necessary to send out our young people do do a year of mission after high school?

(I get stopped twice a week on campus by mormon missionaries. I get screamed at at least a few times per semester by some nutjob wacko fundie. I have never seen a Presbyterian do anything.)

Alas, I imagine that suggesting that we could learn anything at all from the Mormons would be another place where your friends would call me a monster, demon, Nazi, deathly ill, rejector of the Bible, etc.

The problem is that someone actually has to do something, not just talk about it. Otherwise we're no better than the tall steeple pastors who shout "Someone (other than us) please do something (because we're too busy washing our BMWs)!"

Alan said...

" I have never seen a Presbyterian do anything.)"

Just to clarify, the tall steeple church here in town has a large campus ministry that supports a number of young pastors (just the budget of that program probably dwarfs the entire budget of my church.)

And I've still never seen a Presbyterian do anything on campus. If I didn't know they had a campus ministry, I wouldn't know they had a campus ministry.

Robert said...

@Alan There is an amendment this year that allows a synod to have only two tasks: PJC and review of Presbytery minutes. I wonder why this couldn't be done on a nationwide basis.

No comment on what I said about the attempt to get an amendment passed by making the amendment sound like it is about something that it is not?

I'm with you on mission. There is a very good mission project that puts clean water supplies in areas that have none. It might be that small areas could be chosen and when all the villages in that area have clean water they could move on to another area.

The president of Fuller Seminary has been holding theological conversations with the Mormons. I agree that a denomination wide attempt to educate members about Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses would be great. And I am with you about going door to door. And reviving college ministries.

Robert said...

What I didn't say in my blog was that all but two of the speeches for and against 10-A were what I would call appeals to emotions. One college professor talked about other laws that we ignore and I talked about the amendment itself. I think back in 1997 and this year everyone knew what the real issue was.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

"No comment on what I said about the attempt to get an amendment passed by making the amendment sound like it is about something that it is not?"

I'll commnet on it.
That was a real gripe of mine, and was one of three points I made to our Session when we were debating 08-B (I was on Session then). I consider (106b) to be a lie, plain and simple.

I wouldn't go so far as saying that 10-A is a lie, even though it was put forward by the pro-inclusion side. It restores us to a level of specificity that had a long standing history. Since we both seem to think the "GLBT issue" is a non essential one, maybe we shouldn't be worried that GLBTs might find their way into ordained service as a result of 10-A.

In a sense, 10-A asks us to examine all those who apply. It's sort of like Double Predestination. Some pass and some fail, but we examine each in turn. No one is told "don't bother to apply, we won't look at you". God doesn't treat us that way, why should we?

Alan said...

"No comment on what I said about the attempt to get an amendment passed by making the amendment sound like it is about something that it is not?"

I agree there's no question that G-6.0106b was nothing but legislative gay bashing dressed up to look like something it isn't. Lipstick on a pig, as they say. But it isn't actually the wording that makes it so. I'm opposed to the current language, but I'm even more opposed to the hypocrisy of the obese, usurers, and gossips who apply the language only to one "sin." But it isn't the language that's at fault, it's those who filed charge after charge after charge only on the topic of homosexuality (and then did so only against ministers and not elders.)

But suggesting that the new language is only about sex because that is what its opponents want it to be about places, I think, the responsibility on the wrong people. It's like the nutty folks who complain that Behlar might be used by pro-gay advocates and therefore it shouldn't be approved for only that reason.

I think the new 10-A language does not do anything it doesn't purport to do, which is clarify ordination standards are return us to the traditional, Reformed, Presbyterian notion of our theology and polity. The fact that the prurient imaginations of its opponents are unnaturally obsessed with gay sex action doesn't make the language any less clear.

In our Presbytery the debate was far more wide-ranging, with really only the anti-gay folks saying this was all about sex, while simultaneously trying to claim that it isn't really all about sex. My husband spoke about justice, others spoke about the analogy to women's ordination, etc. So no everyone fell into the other side's game of obsessing solely about sex.

I think the intent of the new language was to reaffirm our traditional standards, because the lie that was told by the anti-gay crowd was that deleting B entirely would eliminate all ordination standards from the BoO. I think it is reasonable and responsible to try to take that concern into account and respond to it. I see nothing wrong with countering that lie with clear and obvious language about ordination standards.

Unfortunately, naive waif that I am, I did not imagine that the anti-gay crowd would continue to lie, saying that approval of A would eliminate all ordination standards for everyone forever and lead to fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

As the anti-gay crowd demonstrates on an almost daily basis, it isn't possible to write anything and make it idiot proof.

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Alan,

"It's like the nutty folks who complain that Behlar might be used by pro-gay advocates and therefore it shouldn't be approved for only that reason."

I really wish we weren't considering Belhar this year. We never needed it to get rid of G-6.0106b. A perfectly good confession will probably bite the dust in the PC(USA) because of the GLBT debate. The CRC and the RCA didn't seem to have any problems passing it, so it should be sailing through here. It's too bad it's not.

Alan said...

"The CRC and the RCA didn't seem to have any problems passing it,"

Indeed. As a former member of the CRC and graduate of their denominational college, Calvin College, I think that the phony conservatives in the PCUSA are seriously attempting to denounce Belhar because it isn't conservative enough is laughable, at best. I've known real Calvinist conservatives, real Calvinist conservatives are friends of mine, but these PCUSA clowns are neither Calvinists nor conservative.

Not to mention the CRC and the RCA also use a much more authentic translation of the Heidelberg Catechism than we do, because the phony conservatives in our denomination aren't actually interested in accuracy like the real conservatives in other denominations are. (Of course, the confessions are much more important in the CRC than the PCUSA because they actually use them. Many pastors in the CRC still preach from the HC weekly. I bet most phony conservatives in the PCUSA have never read it other than do a word search on the term "homosexual".)

But there is the additional issue of historical racism in South Africa among the Dutch Calvinists that Belhar addresses, that many in the PCUSA don't get. Probably an additional reason for it passing more easily there.

Robert said...

@Alan
Re: Belhar - the really curious thing in South Africa before and during the time of Belhar is that both sides claimed Abraham Kuyper as their mentor in their theology and practices. The white racists claimed his sphere sovereignty as a basis for dividing society and the church according to race. Alan Boesak used Kuyper as a basis for demanding one Church and equality in society. Guess who really understood Kuyper? Boesak, of course.

Robert said...

My biggest concern about 10-A is that I think it will be roundly ignored just as the present requirement to examine candidates for office is roundly ignored. I think that is a major mistake. If we choose officers on the basis of who we can talk into doing it we get the officers we deserve. If we actually require education and examination maybe God will give us the officers we need.

Kattie W. Coon said...

I'm curious Bob,
Will you ignore it?
What kind of training and examination is given at Tully? What kind of questions do you ask at Presbytery examinations?

I think the church I attend will probably ignore it. Much to my dismay, except for a handfull of us, they basically ignore everything about our presbytery. This is true even though the makeup of our congregation is pretty much the same as the makeup of our presbytery as a whole. We're large enough to be essentially self sufficient, so we're not very connected to anyone.

Robert said...

We already do education on the ordination questions. We also train on the Book of Order including chapters 1-4, the specific duties of the Session and compare that with the duties of the pastor and the presbytery and how they interrelate. We also cover the Book of Confession and some info specifically related to Tully. Then each candidate has to write a confession of faith.

My big concern is that I can't seem to get the Session to do an actual examination. I guess I have to educate them.

So no, I don't ignore the current requirements and if I can get the Session to ask questions we can add questions about the ordination questions.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

The training you give at Tully sounds similar to what we give to our incoming officers, but I didn't get a feel for how in-depth you guys actually go.

I'm pretty disappointed with how little our officer training went into the Confessions. We covered three or four confessions in a single two hour session, and I don't think that's nearly enough time. I also suspect that a majority in the class didn't keep up with the reading assignments.

In the thirteen years that I've been attending my current particular church, I've noticed that a formal class on the Confessions has only been given once. I attended the class, and noticed that my classmates were nearly all from the oldest echelons of the congregation, those who would be the least likely to have the energy to serve as officers in the future. I don’t think these were the people we really needed to reach. If it was up to me, it would be given every two or three years and be strongly recommended to all new members.

Our incoming officers do share a testimony in a small group setting with two Session Elders presiding, but we have no formal question and answer session. I would like to see the incoming officers respond to a prepared list of questions (given to them in advance) and also be given a couple of questions on the spot.

Of course, I don’t think any of this is realistic. If I was in charge, I think everyone would be scared away from service.

Alan said...

"We already do education on the ordination questions. We also train on the Book of Order including chapters 1-4, the specific duties of the Session and compare that with the duties of the pastor and the presbytery and how they interrelate. We also cover the Book of Confession and some info specifically related to Tully. Then each candidate has to write a confession of faith."

We do much the same, and of course, our Session members get a lot of on-the-job training about the BoO & BoC. You can't be a More Light congregation that allows same sex marriage, ordain LGBT elders, write overtures to GA, and have your minister brought up on charges without learning quite a bit about the BoO and the BoC.

Maybe you should try to make things more real and less abstract for your session by doing something to get in trouble, Bob. Your whole congregation would quickly learn the importance of a good education in polity and theology after their pastor was brought up on charges for performing a same-sex marriage, for example.

If you're not doing something to tick someone off, what's the point?

;)

Robert said...

@Alan

We don't tick people off as a session. I do it myself by knowing enough about the FoG and Robert's Rules at meetings, particularly presbytery meetings.

Alan said...

I was suggesting something slightly more important than Robert's Rules. :)

Alan said...

On the other hand, if you've read the Letters to the Editor in the LayMAN recently, there are a number of people who clearly could use a few lessons from you about Robert's Rules.

It is surprising that so many people would be willing to openly display their remarkable ignorance in public like that. Sheesh...that letters section has turned into a train-wreck.

Apparently these folks believe 1) voting by ballot is evil, and 2) commissioners are representatives.

Ugh. I'd believe these phony conservatives were truly conservative if they even understood what they were conserving.

Kattie W. Coon said...

I agree the Letters section at the LayMAN really is a train-wreck. It's far worse than just the lack of knowledge of Robert's Rules. It's the lack of real Christian values that bothers me.

What do you wager the good Dr. Rev. Edwards' last letter will be met with more criticism rather than the dialogue she seeks?

Viola Larson said...

Hi Bob,
right in the middle of those who think I am awful, I am going to ask you a question after reading all of this. And I am asking because of friendship and our e-mail exchanges? If 10-A passes, and it probably will, will you ordain practicing homosexuals?

Pastor Bob said...

Viola

To put it simply, no. When I say that the ordination of practicing homosexuals is not essential I mean that it is not an essential of the faith.

Examples: Belief in the resurrection is an essential of the faith as is the full divinity and humanity of Jesus. On the other hand those who interpret the Scriptures differently than I do on the issue of homosexual behavior are sincere even if I believe them to be wrong. This what I believe to be a misinterpretation of Scripture is not an essential of the faith.

When 10-A passes it will not require me or anyone else to ordain practicing homosexuals or heterosexuals who have sex outside the bonds of marriage. Frankly the latter is an issue that is more likely to come before my Session.

What do you think of that?

Viola Larson said...

I say praise the Lord. And right after I read what you had written I went over to another friends blog and read this: http://web.mac.com/noela/My_Site/AnderspeaK/AnderspeaK.html

This is eactly what I have been praying and hoping for. What do you think.

And by the way I think because the issue is an attack on both the authority of scripture, the work of Christ in the Christians life, and the cross as well as our very real unity with the resurrected Christ it is an essential. That is it is an attack on the very essentials you are speaking of.

Alan said...

Oh Viola, your strange persecution complex aside, I don't think you're awful. If you had the courage to actually engage with me, maybe you'd realize that. Oh well.

Anyway, I'll just say that your question and Bob's response clearly show there is nothing in 10-A that requires anyone to ordain anyone they don't want to, in spite of the lies being told by your friends. Thank you both for making an important point FOR the adoption of 10-A: freedom of conscience. I wouldn't want anyone to force Bob to ordain an LGBT elder any more than I want him to force me not to vote for someone perfectly qualified to do the job.

I hope people read this and get the word out, that both of you don't believe 10-A requires ordaining anyone. Hopefully that will change a mind or two.

So I agree with you, Viola, praise the Lord for that. But I am praising the Lord that we each get to exercise our God-given consciences on that matter. Unfortunately, I suspect however, you're praising the Lord for quite a different reason.

Robert said...

@Viola

As to whether voting for 10-A is an attack on the essentials of the faith I think the answer is, it depends. It depends on how the individual made the decision whether or not Scripture teaches homosexual sexual behavior is sinful or not. If the person believes in the authority of Scripture but comes to the conclusion that the passages do not mean what you and I believe them to mean that is not an assault on the essentials of the faith. That is a disagreement about the meaning and interpretation of Scripture. This, I believe, is Alan's position on the subject. He believes in the authority of Scripture but is convinced that I am interpreting the passages wrongly.

On the other hand if someone believes that the Scripture teaches that homosexual sexual acts are sinful but decides to ignore the Scripture for one reason or another that person denies the authority of Scripture. That would be a denial of an essential of the faith.

Did I get it right Alan?

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

I can't answer for Alan, but you seem to have hit nail on the head for me. I have a very high regard for the authority of scripture, and I believe I am interpreting it correctly. By that I mean guided by the Holy Spirit and our Confessions. I don't believe that a blanket prohibition from ordained office is biblical when applied to GLBTs any more than it is for non GLBTs.

Kattie W. Coon said...

On the topic of essentials, what's your take on this?

http://web.mac.com/noela/My_Site/AnderspeaK/Entries/2011/3/24_A_CONFESSION_FOR_OUR_TIME.html

I thought that subscription to Confessions was something we got out of out system back in the early eighteenth century. This takes it to a whole new level. Looks like more of Alan's phony conservatism.

Robert said...

"I thought that subscription to Confessions was something we got out of out system back in the early eighteenth century."

I find evidence that people were asked about their scruples concerning the Westminster documents as late as the 1950's. This may or may not point to the move to a Book of Confessions as grounds for ending scruples concerning what was previously one confession and therefore something to which one subscribed or offered scruples.

In any case one cannot scruple a Book of Confessions when those Confessions sometimes disagree with each other.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

"In any case one cannot scruple a Book of Confessions when those Confessions sometimes disagree with each other."

Well, I’m not so sure about the logic of that, but it appears to me that the framers of "The Glendale Statement" want us to subscribe to a collection of documents, in its entirety, that disagrees with itself. Also, there are certainly things that are not contradictory in the collection that could be scrupled.

It also looks to me like the Glendale framers are giving far too much authority to the Confessions. Right up there with Scripture itself. Again, more phony conservatism.

Alan said...

I'd agree with you Bob, that this is not about the authority of Scripture. That argument is weak tea brewed by the phony pious because their small minds cannot think of anything better and because their arrogance can imagine nothing else.

On the authority of Scripture, I'd say the Confessions, which I affirmed at my ordination, are clear.

Robert said...

@Alan

So now can I have you come to Philly Presby and do a lecture on why the nFOG is stupid? :)

Kattie W. Coon said...

Oh-Oh Bob,

You've gone and done it now. Viola's made a post about ordination of unrepentant sinners and how you don't think this is an essential of the faith.

( http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2011/03/is-not-ordaining-unrepentant-sinners.html )

Of course she didn't refer to you by name like she would do me or John Shuck. I guess she doesn't want people to come over here to see what you actually said, or maybe it was what she said, or maybe it could be the comments that were made here. It could possibly be that she thinks you have had a temporary laps of good judgment and will soon get over it, so maybe it's best not to point people at it. Oh well, I still love her even though I really do think she's awful.

Robert said...

Maybe I misunderstood myself but I thought I said that I would not ordain sexually active homosexuals (or heterosexuals who have sex outside the bonds of marriage). Then I said interpreting Scripture with an honest attempt to get it right but disagreeing with me is not an essential of the faith.

I should add that there are some subjects in Scripture that if misinterpreted go to essentials of the faith. I would put "Africans are descendents of Ham therefore they should be slaves" in that category. Same thing with the argument that the Bible doesn't teach that Jesus is really God. I've had some fun with Jehovah's witnesses about the latter.

Robert said...

And I thought the main point of my blog was about hypocrisy!

Kattie W. Coon said...

What really bothers me are people who don't seem to be able to wrap their minds around other perspectives when it comes to interpreting Scripture.

On the GLBT ordination issue, I came from a perspective where I agreed with you, and I believe I was Holy Spirit and Scripturally lead to the perspective I know have. I can't even count how many times people have simply assumed I havn't read Scripture, and all I need to do is read it and I'll agree with them. They'll claim that I don't believe in the Authority of Scripture, but part of what guided me on my journey was our Book of Confessions, and the discovery of where we actually believe the Authority of Scripture is.

Alan said...

"So now can I have you come to Philly Presby and do a lecture on why the nFOG is stupid? :)"

I've got enough material, we might need to make it a conference instead of a lecture. :)

Unfortunately I think Detroit isn't going to do the nFOG debate in the same way we did the 10-A debate. For 10-A we had two speakers each for pro and con who got 5 minutes to give some introductory statements before the 60 mins for floor debate, which allowed a little more nuance. I haven't heard that we'll be doing that for nFOG, but I'm trying to find that out. Hopefully we'll take at least as much time debating the trashing of the entire BoO as we took to change one little amendment.

"And I thought the main point of my blog was about hypocrisy!"

And, reading Viola's post about you, it still is. Here we have someone doing exactly what you posted about: You commented on people taking the clear wording of G-6.0106b and making it all about gay sex. Viola takes the clear wording of all of Scripture and makes that all about gay sex. Using her "reasoning" (such as it is) everything in the Bible and everything that isn't in the Bible can be construed to be an "essential."

I mean, seriously? Being anti-gay is now an essential of the faith? Are you kidding me with this crap? Is it possible to be both incredulous, yet not at all surprised?

So...you've officially be "Shucked" by one of your buddies, Bob. Welcome to the club! If you're ticking them off, you must be doing something right. ;)

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Bob
Too bad she didn't call you out by name. It seems Presbyweb has picked up the article. You would be famous (infamous?). You better go over there quick before your fifteen minutes of fame are out of reach.

Robert said...

I commented on Viola's blog that I am the writer of the referred to blog and made some comments.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,
Now she's implying that those who have my perspective aren't being lead by the Holy Spirit, or maybe we're unconscious or something like that. The hubris in her comment to you is utterly astounding. No humility at all.

Alan said...

Wow. Apparently anyone who supports ordination of LGBT people denies the deity of Christ and also denies the bodily resurrection of Christ.

I support the ordination of LGBT people, and I do not deny the deity of Christ, nor the bodily resurrection of Christ.

Therefore, either Viola is lying or I am. And I am not lying. I have also stated my clearly and obviously orthodox views on these topics many times and in many places, so I am pretty confident she isn't simply speaking out of ignorance on the matter. I'm also adult enough and intelligent enough to be able to clearly know and state what I believe without reservation, so it would also be a lie to state that I am denying those things "unintentionally."

So, to hew back to the topic of Bob's post here, I'd say, I would hope that people would be at least as concerned about the abject hypocrisy of unrepentant liars being ordained while denying ordination to "unrepentant" LGBT people.

But as you say, Bob, G-6.0106b was never meant to be used against unrepentant liars, which is probably what gives them courage to lie with impunity.

Robert said...

Folks let's not forget that I also said that 10-A seems to really be about allowing sexually active homosexuals to be ordained. I doubt the core intention of 10-A was to require a new way of conducting ordination/installation examinations. I think an amendment to simply remove G-6.0106b would have been more honest. I was even handed in my criticism.

Alan said...

I would say, and I say this having submitted one of these overtures, that the core intention was to modify G-6.0106b to return us to orthodox Reformed theology and classical Presbyterian polity, while taking seriously the reasonable concerns of those few on the other side who can be reasonable. As I said above, suggesting that the new language is only about sex because that is what its opponents want it to be about places, I think, the responsibility on the wrong people. For example, even though you believe the intention is otherwise, there's nothing in the new language that would prevent, for example, someone from filing charges against unrepentant liars.

And, I don't think there's anything in the new language that will do anything that it doesn't purport to do.

On the other hand, I agree with you that the current language is hypocritical as are many of its proponents.

In any event, though we disagree on some points, I think you make interesting points supported by rational thought, rather than cynical rhetoric and hysterical emotionalism. I'm glad you don't feel you have to lie in order to make your case.

I wish others were as "even-handed."

Alan said...

Uh oh, Bob.

Looks like your friends over at Viola's place are looking to fit you for a millstone.

Robert said...

@Alan

Well at least more people are reading my blog. :)

Alan said...

:)

As I always say, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Paper Mache millstones float, then they dissolve.

Surely Matt ("there's no racism in the PC(USA)") Ferguson's implication, that those who disagree with his interpretation of Scripture shouldn't be ordained, can be taken as uninformed.

Robert said...

@Kattie

I think we all have some expectations of those we would vote to ordain, including Scriptural interpretation issues. I listed just a couple over at Viola's blog: the resurrection and the Trinity. And there are some ethical issues too. I would advise a Nominating Committee not to nominate a known gossip.

Maybe more important, what qualities do we look for in an elder, deacon or MWS?

Alan said...

"Maybe more important, what qualities do we look for in an elder, deacon or MWS?"

An enjoyment of heterosexual sex?

Clearly that's number one. Because once you know that, then you know that the person believes in the deity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection.

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Bob,

"I would advise a Nominating Committee not to nominate a known gossip."

I think the key word there is "advise", and I wouldn't have a problem with you or anyone else saying something like that.

The problem, from my perspective, comes in when we try to bind consciences. After all, God is the Lord of the conscience, and as I see it, to bind the conscience would be to bind God. For that reason, I have a tendency to be very lenient when it comes to who we formally examine and vote on. I think we tend to overreach and act like Pharisees when we spell out standards. It's not that I believe there isn't a right or a wrong, I just like to think I'm allowing the Holy Spirit to help make the right decision. Are there those who would try to push an unrighteous agenda? Sure, but I like to think that God is big enough to handle that in God’s righteous and mysterious way. For me it’s a matter of faith.

Robert said...

@ Kattie

Actually I'm following the FoG here. As the pastor is an ex officio member of the Nominating Committee she cannot vote on who gets nominated and who doesn't.

It is also my opinion that any pastor who instructs or even suggests names to the Nominating Committee, particularly if the persons named are known as friends of the pastors, will soon be looking for a new job.

At presbytery my job is different. Since at the present we examine candidates on their statements of faith if someone says something in her/his statement of faith that goes over the edge into heresy it is my job to question that person as to what she/he means and vote against that person if they cannot provide an answer that corrects the heresy. And I'm talking about big stuff here like believing Jesus didn't rise from the dead.

The only time I ever asked someone about their sex life was when a pastor who had previously committed sexual misconduct but plead guilty to violating his ordination vows. He was up for being restored to active ministry and since he had not done so I wanted him to admit that he had committed sexual misconduct.

Alan said...

Clearly, Bob, you could be much more efficient if you just ask the right question. :)

Robert said...

I've always appreciated the balance of the Historic Principles of Church Order for their balance. Everyone is free to believe what they want to believe but a denomination can set the standards for membership and leaders as it sees fit. G-1.0300.

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Bob,

Matt Ferguson said to you a Viola's place: "Could you refer me to a faithful exegete (one you say uses solid methods of Biblical interpretation)...".

Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to folks like Jack Rogers. Don't forget, it's both the learned AND the unlearned who can understand the essentials for salvation as delivered by the Scriptures.

I think my Pastor who is clearly anti-10A would consider me to be a faithful exegete.

BTW
Matt's response to your Rogers comment clearly demonstrates why so many of us in the PC(USA) just won't get along.

Alan said...

Kattie quotes, "Could you refer me to a faithful exegete..."

Of course not, Kattie.

If the person is faithful, then they simply cannot conclude that same-sex relations are not sinful. If they reach that conclusion then they must simply be "attempts to twist God's word to say what it does not."

QED.

A faithful exegete is one who agrees with the foregone conclusions of the BFTSs, Kattie. Anyone else is not only unfaithful, but is sure to lead everyone down the slippery slope to fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Surely you know that by now. ;)

Hopefully you don't get dizzy from that all that circular "reasoning".

Alan said...

Other random observations....

BTW, I know we're not Wesleyan who dare to acknowledge the importance of "experience" in understanding the Word, but when, exactly did "experience" become such a grave mortal sin among Presbyterians?

And why is it OK for people to claim, "You just think that because you're gay, or your son is gay, or your friend is gay." But it is a grave sin to claim, "You just think that because you're a bigot."?

Aren't both "arguments" of equal ... uh ... "quality"?

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Alan

"Of course not, Kattie.

If the person is faithful, then they simply cannot conclude that same-sex relations are not sinful."

Yep, I should have realized it was a setup. He wasn't going to accept anyone.

@Bob,

Maybe you should have answered with: "They are far too numerous for me to count and I won't do any of them an injustice by picking out only a few."

Robert said...

Actually there are others. I just couldn't remember their names. The mind's going

Alan said...

Want to place any bets that your buddies don't find their work faithful either, Bob?

If you don't bow at the feet of their favorite homosexual expert Gagnon, you just aren't faithful, Bob.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Gagnon!
Ah yes, the Holy Father, Bishop of Pittsburgh.

More phony conservatism. If you don't actually learn from history, you're bound to repeat it.

Robert said...

It probably will surprise no one that I agree with some of what Dr. Gagnon has written. From a purely intellectual standpoint I find his studies in sex between two men in the ancient world where in anal sex the receiver must be the social inferior of the penetrator to be fascinating. This goes all the way back to Hammurabi.

I also find it interesting (and this doesn't come from Rob but I forget the author) an argument that one cannot read either of the Leviticus passages as cultic but rather that one must consider the context of the surrounding verses in which all the rules against having sex are about the male's breaking a relationship with another male when he has sex with a woman he should not. It keeps talking about uncovering the nakedness of the other male.

Curious

Alan said...

"It probably will surprise no one that I agree with some of what Dr. Gagnon has written."

Not surprising, but disappointing.

The guy is a hack who seriously believes that the Bible clearly shows that adultery is worse than homosexuality. As a former pastor of mine used to say, "the ranking of sins is the rankest of sins." There is, to my knowledge, no Scriptural justification for the Catholic notion of ranking sins (eg venal vs. mortal) and it certainly isn't Reformed.

Also, as someone with quite a bit of experience reviewing academic journal articles, I can smell when someone's research is meant only to promote a pre-determined conclusion a mile off. And Gagnon's research has that stink all over it. There is no doubt in my mind that he begins with his conclusion that homosexuality is the worst sin ever and then seeks to find prooftexts to support that conclusion.

But then, when it comes to being an expert on homosexuality, I wouldn't begin to compare myself to the good Doctor Gagnon.

I have to admit that the very notion of theological "research" such as that performed by academics like Gagnon, which seeks to provide a level of certainty high enough to be a basis for for a system of ethics that denies the basic humanity of human beings, is questionable at best. (That's me being polite. If I were more honest, I'd be using the term "snake oil" repeatedly.)

Robert said...

To be more specific, I agree with his translation of certain words and the implications of those translations. I don't agree with a hierarchy of sins.

Jodie said...

I came to this party late and then Blogger ate my response.

I just wanted to agree with you Bob, on the hypocritical enforcement of the current G-6.0106b. I would vote to keep it otherwise.

I don't know who put the last sentence in, but whoever did that made sure that trying to enforce just half of G-6.0106b would lead to its demise.

As it has.

G-6.0106b has always been a silly farce at best, and an excuse for bigotry at worse. Good riddance.

The alternative, flattening the Church because nobody can repent of all the practices the confessions call sin, and abolishing ordination altogether, that would be OK too.

Pastor Bob said...

Jodie et al

What I have found most interesting in this conversation and others is that no one (except me) seems to be able to admit that both the writers of 96-B and 10-A were hypocritical. People can only admit that those on the other side are hypocritical. Why is that?

Pastor Bob said...

@ Kattie, referring to ancient history:

"Now she's implying that those who have my perspective aren't being lead by the Holy Spirit"

Kattie of course your perspective can't be lead by the Holy Spirit unless you agree with me! Unless, of course, I'm wrong.

And to all: I am tired of the hating. Alan somewhere in here you referred to me as even handed and rational. Thank you for the compliment. I wish we could do all our talking that way. Except about the nFOG of course. Voting for the nFOG is totally irrational.

Jodie said...

Bob,

The writers were hypocritical? Well, perhaps, but at the end of the day, Church IS theater. Always has been. Good theater often, bad at times, but it is always theater.

And, by definition, a hypocrite is one who wears the mask of an actor (Greek theater).

So Church, by definition, is a hypocrite factory. Ordination, the masking of the actors.

Embrace it.

My beef is the self righteous unfairness of religious bigotry. The hypocrisy of it is very real, but almost incidental.

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Bob

"Kattie of course your perspective can't be lead by the Holy Spirit unless you agree with me! Unless, of course, I'm wrong."

I think you're ignoring the obvious alternative here. The Holy Spirit could be leading both sides of a non-essential issue for an entirely Holy purpose.

Pastor Bob said...

Lincoln on Civil war: both sides believe God is on their side. One side could be right or the other side. They might both be wrong. They cannot both be right.

Maybe we should consider if both are wrong.

Alan said...

"seems to be able to admit that both the writers of 96-B and 10-A were hypocritical. People can only admit that those on the other side are hypocritical. "

Seems to you. Doesn't mean you're right.

And it is one thing to suggest that the current language is hypocritical because it has been shown to be so by the actions of the hypocrites.

Only time will tell if 10-A actually is. You can't make the charge that enforcement of the new language is hypocritical if it hasn't even been voted in yet.

In other words, while I think you are even handed, making faulty comparisons in order to appear even handed isn't the same thing as actually *being* even handed.

Jodie said...

Bob,

"Maybe we should consider if both are wrong."

I agree in the sense that I do not think it was the Holy Spirit that put the question of ordination of homosexuals on the table. The Church has been ordaining homosexuals forever. Status quo.

But the >question< of whether it is OK is meant to divide the Church. And divide it has. The only way to defeat the one who asked the question, the only way to pass the test, is to refuse to answer.

To refuse to even acknowledge the question.

Pastor Bob said...

@ Alan My point all along is that both B and A were written in the form they were/are to make the addition or removal of what is now 0106b more palatable. Also that neither in 97 nor in 2011 was it necessary to try and make either more palatable. I think an amendment to simply delete 0106b would have passed this year. I also think 0106b would have passed without the last sentence in 97. If an amendment had been offered in the 1980s to bar the ordination of self affirming practicing homosexuals I suspect it would have passed then and been removed earlier.

Maybe hypocritical is the wrong word. Political worry?

@ Jodie I wonder if there is another possible answer: that the failure of either side to convince the other on the meaning of a few words may point to our failure to move beyond atomistic Biblical interpretation. Both sides have chosen themes in the Bible to support their/our beliefs but I suspect that the our choices of themes was based on our preconceived opinions. I offer my use of a male/female marriage theme in trying to broaden the scope of my interpretation of the few sentences that are actually the real source of debate. I suspect that my choice of theme however correct or incorrect it may be was chosen to support what I already believed. Unconsciously I hope you will accept.

I wonder how we will really come out in the end. The rejection of slavery - beyond certain wonderful interpretations by pre Civil War abolitionists that have been forgotten, except for Jack Rogers - has never really been based on the Bible, at least not on passages that actually talk about slavery. It has, and I think rightly so, been based on a theme of equality of sinners in the Bible. Those abolitionists did some careful work and correctly said that slavery in both the Old Testament and the Roman world was nothing like slavery in American because Biblical slavery was not based on race. Further there was never a year of Jubilee in America that freed slaves.

I'm suggesting we need to move beyond the standard arguments of both sides. Example: Mark Achtemeier's work on Genesis 2 and sexual orientation. Don't think he's going to convince anyone but at least he is thinking outside the box. If both sides would think outside the box maybe we could have a real conversation that might come to some kind of consensus. Which of course makes me a starry eyed idealist, but why should I change so late in life?

Alan said...

"If both sides would think outside the box maybe we could have a real conversation that might come to some kind of consensus."

Starry eyed idealist indeed.

If that were to happen, it would, I think, be one of the first times in history when such a consensus has been reached. Read Kuhn on the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Or listen to Max Plank, "Change happens one funeral at a time."

Now an idealist, it seems to me, might call the desire to affirm strong standards for ordination in 10-A a compromise. In fact, people have been whining about compromise for years. Now when it happens, others dismiss it as "politics" because someone proposed something that they believed a majority of people could agree to.

Well, as Steve Martin would say, "Excuuuuuuuuse me."

:)

Mostly I see this as Monday morning quarterbacking. You're not the only one, of course. There have been some other voices out there complaining about the wording in 10-A, (Koster, et. al.) and my response is: So why didn't you suggest something better? These amendments were out there months before they went to GA. (And the issue has been around for 30 years.) Surely you or another complainer could have found the 10 minutes necessary to write something better. And if you think a delete B overture would have passed so easily, it would have been no work at all to propose one and get it sent to GA.

Marriage is the next fight, Bob. Rather than stand around and wait for others to do work that you'll then criticize, now would be a good time to find an "ideal" solution that isn't "political." Just a suggestion. Good luck.

Jodie said...

Bob,

My journey from being a mocker and scoffer of gays and lesbian to being accepting of them, even though I am genetically averse to the notion of having sex with someone of my same sex, was not based on any arguments anybody made from the Bible.

But I find that my heroes in the Bible all have this thing in common: They were not afraid to stand up to God, and argue for their fellow human beings. Whether it was Abraham, or Moses, or Job, or Jesus, the general theme in the Scriptures is one that encourages careless solidarity with humanity, and humility before God.

So when I saw that the Holy Spirit was filling the heart of a gay friend of mine with love and acceptance, and a Fundamentalist leader of my chapter of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship thought it was his God given responsibility to out him, and bring him before the community to force him to repent of the way he was, I chose sides with my biblical heroes. It didn't matter if it was a sin or not, or if there is a law against it, I would defend him before God and Man.

And in a moment of mystical revelation, I saw my friend as Jesus did, and I understood who it was that Jesus was willing to die for. Not the potential in a straight version of my friend, but him, my friend, as is.

I don't care if there are 7 bible passages I can throw at gays, or 70 times 7. There are many more I can throw at God if necessary.

But I don't think it is.