Therefore, if a church's theology or confessions are confused, that church's polity will reflect that confusion.
One of the main problems with the homosexual ordination debate in the life of the PC(USA) has been that we have been trying to fix a theological ambiguity (i.e. understanding of ordination and sexuality), through polity measures.
Until the PC(USA) can confess clearly her understanding of what she believes about ordination, human sexuality, biblical interpretation, Christology, etc., our polity will continue to reflect both the ambiguity and confusion of our theology.
P Johnston in the comments from my previous blog asks me to clarify my statement "As long as I am alive and breathing, me and my church will continue to proclaim the goodness of the crucified risen Christ who frees all people from all bondage and all sin. That is the good news of Jesus Christ and I am sticking to it." with the reformed understanding of ordination that the ordination of one council (session, presbytery) is the ordination of the whole.
That's a fantastic observation.
What follows is my attempt to clarify my statement.
When the church had a more uniform confession, it was possible to claim that the ordination of one is the ordination of the whole church, and that the bodies that were responsible for carrying out that ordination was the local councils. This functionally worked because the church was operating out of a more uniform understanding of her confessions.
However, as our understanding of the "essential" tenets of the reformed tradition is muddied and confused to the point that no one in the life of the church can agree on what those essential tenets of the reformed tradition are, it has led to a fissure in the ordination practice of the church.
It is precisely because I still believe that the ordination of one is the ordination of the whole, that when a council (session or presbytery) calls a "scruple" to particular parts of our existing confessions and constitutional documents, that those of us who cannot agree with such "scruples" find such ordinations untenable and unacceptable.
I believe in the one holy catholic church. I believe that the Presbyterian way of doing church is one of the faithful manifestations of that one holy catholic church.
But when a council's "scruple" takes itself outside the bounds of historical orthodox faith, it is that particular council that has departed from historical orthodox faith.
I am not naive enough to think that all will agree that the ordination of homosexuals is a departure from historical orthodox faith.
But it is precisely this difference in understanding over confessional standards that represents a fissure and a real chasm in the life of the church. And for folk like me, the difference in confessional standards represents a departure from historical orthodox faith to such an extent that it calls into question just how we are connected to one another.
There comes a point when diversity is so diverse, it is no longer what in essence was what it once was. And when that happens, diversity has become so diverse it becomes departure from rather than diversity within.