Hesed Discussion Forum

[Moderator's Note: Hesed Forum contributions are grouped roughly by the following topics: Sermons and Pastoral Prayers, Theology and Exegesis, Polity, Articles on Amendment B, and Services Affirming Inclusiveness and "B" Dissent. Other types of resources - and reproductions of several "covenants of dissent" are listed in the Hesed Index. Please note also that a Hesed email discussion list (hesed-l) is available, as well as a mechanism, led by G. Daniel Little, Ithaca, NY, Honorably Retired, for tracking actual experiences resulting from Amendment B.]

From the Forum's Moderator

As I have followed the discussion about "Amendment B" over the past months, I have been saddened by the degree to which we in the PC(USA) have talked past one another. Clearly, we are at a critical juncture in our church history; equally clearly, we seem to be failing in our attempts to find "common ground." Despite our seeming impasse, I find striking similarities in the opposing positions. In fact, I believe that both sides would:

call for a renewed commitment to Christian principles.

assert that it is the Church's duty to make a "prophetic statement" to this generation.

agree that semper reformanda refers to the continual reformation of the church through Biblical revelation coming through the Holy Spirit in our own time.

affirm that we are a "connectional" church and that it is important that we remain so.

So what is our problem?

I believe that two critical problems underlie this impasse: first, a lamentable failing in our educational mission - particularly in the education of laity; second, a lack of understanding of the critical role that our own experiences (and indeed passions) play in our theological and ethical understanding.

In the first case, we have churches full of highly-educated and highly-motivated individuals whose theological education is at the equivalent of a fourth- or fifth-grade level (and for whom adult Christian education may mean continual reengagement with those early lessons but with no attempt or desire to look at them in new ways). In the second case, many seek to maintain a culture rather than to live out a Christian ethic in our own time. Have we forgotten that to be a part of the Reformed Tradition means to engage with and transform culture, as Christ himself taught us?

Is there hope for the PC(USA)? I believe so. Then how do we address our differences - in view of our similarities - and with respect to (and for) those differences? This Forum is open for that discussion.

Virginia L. Lewis - 4 April 1997


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