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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Ooh, Let's Stay Together

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NPH's Mother Kirk is going to be in the media for the next couple of days, and not for its ads. At its General Assembly yesterday, the church acted to adopt the recommendations of a task force to keep an ordination standard pertaining to sexuality in the church constitution, while allowing local ordaining bodies to apply that standard in individual cases. The story you may read will say that the church has "opened the way for the ordination of gays and lesbians under certain circumstances." The story you should read will explain the bedrock Presbyterian principle that, "Ordaining and installing bodies, acting as corporate expressions of
the church, have the responsibility to determine their membership by
applying these standards to those elected to office" (Adopting Act, 1729).

NPH is pleased. He read the task force's recommendations (which were published nine months ago) as was convinced by their authors that this is a faithful and courageous direction to go. Opponents of the recommendations contend that maintaining a church-wide standard while allowing local bodies to apply those standards will create a "balkanized" church, not a nationally unified one. Many people who rose to speak against the recommendations appealed to clarity and clearly-defined boundaries as reasons to keep the application of ordination standards out of the hands of ordaining bodies, which strikes us as shortsighted. NPH thinks of Jesus' debate with the real religious folk in the temple, the one where they questioned him on all the controversial matters of the day (divorce, the emperor tax). Jesus' answers were hardly the boundary-defining, clearly-demarcated principles that are so desirous among many in today's church; they were ambiguous (Give to Caesar what is Caesar's . . .), and they placed the larger burden of interpretation and application on the hearer. Jesus declined to issue a dictum and said, in essence, "You figure it out."

NPH thinks that the Presbyterian Church is taking a step towards more faithfully figuring it out.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:18 AM

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