Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Adopting Act Holds

The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, the "supreme court" of the Presbyterian Church (USA), released a major decision this week on the Pittsburgh case. This case is the first of several heading to the GAPJC to test the real meaning of the church's adoption of the Peace, Unity, and Purity report in 2006, on which I have blogged quite a bit.

At issue in the Pittsburgh Presbytery case were two related points:
can a candidate for ordination in the church scruple behavior, as opposed to belief? and
can an ordaining body make a blanket determination of what the essential and necessary standards for ordination are?

In both cases the GAPJC said no

Specifically, the court said that ministers and elders may declare that they disagree with the church's interpretation of scripture as requiring that all officers must “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness” (Book of Order, G-6.0106b) - but they must still act within that standard of behavior until and unless the whole church constitutionally changes that interpretation.

Second, the court said that the presbytery must take each case for ordination individually and not issue a blanket interpretation of church rules that go beyond what the constitution itself explicitly says. Each candidate's confession and scruples must be considered individually and as a whole.

In other words, the middle way that PUP promoted, and the Adopting Act of 1729 standard that it revived, were upheld by the court.


Michael Bush said...

Wow, Beau. The spin is making me dizzy.

The Adopting Act did hold, in the sense that it never implied that a minister or elder with exceptions could disregard acts of the synod.

But the central goal of the PUP report to overturn that precedent and permit violations of the Constitution on a case by case basis has failed decisively with this ruling.

Gruntled said...

Michael, I reject your interpretation. That is not what the PUP report says, that is not what the Task Force members said in public testimony or at the GA, and that is not what they told me privately. PUP means what it says.

Alan said...

I've been saying since the PUP report was passed that nothing changed. Nothing changed. The floodgates of queer ordination did not open.

Now all those who promote schism on the basis of this report will have to find a new drum to beat.

Nice to be proven right ... yet again. I, for one, do not hate to say, "I told you so." ;)