Apr 7, 2011

Inerrancy, Civil Rights, Women's Ordination, Ordination Standards - What are the Common Themes?

The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" Ecc. 1:9.

There is no doubt about it. Change is in the air. No one knows what exactly the future holds, but everything seems to be pointing to the fact that the future will look very differently than the present looks for the PC(USA).

The landscape of the denominational life as we know it is undergoing monumental shifts as we move ever closer to approving 10-A and change our denomination's stance on ordination.

Here's what I find intriguing about our current discussion. People from both sides of the debate are approaching this from a biblical and Christocentric position. It's not that the conservatives are Bible focused while the liberals are not Bible focused on this issue or vice versa. Both are where we are because we are convinced that God would have us do church in this way.

There are many controversial and important issues in the life of the church where people have agreed to live with the tension of disagreement - i.e. the war in the Middle East, Israel/Palestine, capital punishment, abortion, etc. I rarely hear people demanding that if the PC(USA) does this or that, or doesn't do this or that over these highly controversial issues that they are going to leave the church. People have come to accept the tension of disagreement in these issues.

However, when it comes to the ordination issue, we are different. Heard many people say something like, "If the denomination starts to ordain homosexuals, or if the denominations doesn't ordain homosexuals, I'm out of here!"

What is it about the ordination and sexuality issues that divides the church like this? Why not over these other issues? Why is it that we can live with the tension of disagreement in a host of those other issues while we are declaring that we cannot over this particular issue.

This isn't the first issue that has arisen out of many other important issues that have become the issue for a generation.

For instance a generation ago, the single issue amongst a host of other controversial issues that divided the church was women's ordination. A generation before that, it was the Civil Right's movement. A generation before that it was inerrancy. And the list goes on. Every generation seems to have their particular issue on which they declare they cannot live with the tension of disagreement.

Here's the question I have been trying to wrap my head around: what is it about these particular issues that makes them become the divisive issue for an entire generation over the other issues? Why can't or doesn't the church get beyond these particular issues?

Perhaps, it's when we can answer this question, we can help our church move beyond our current impass.

Would love your thoughts on that.

1 comment:

teacher_deb said...

Well..Who invented denominations?....Humans....Who is "right " here and who is "wrong"? once again humans.. so how do we figure out how to live within the etensions that try to tear us away from God and away from Jesus...? Only with God through Jesus. It is not an easy fix and why is it every generation has its decisive factor going??? These and many other questions will be answered for us in "the sweet by and by"