Sunday, June 29, 2008

Form of Government is Still The Most Important Issue at the General Assembly

All this week I have been blogging on the Presbyterian General Assembly.

The FOG has been somewhat overshadowed in the last few days of the Assembly by the usual sex fights. In the long run, though, the proposed revisions of the Form of Government are a better way to deal with divisive issues, such as sex. The genius of the presbyterian, connectional system is that we trust our own presbyteries to justly discern the essential tenets of the Reformed faith and our constitution. This has always meant that some presbyteries are more liberal, and some presbyteries are more conservative, and most are in the middle. This has always meant that if a minister moved from one presbytery to another, he or she ran the risk of a tough examination and a no vote.

The Peace, Unity, and Purity report adopted at the last GA started the process by restoring the Adopting Act of 1729. The intent of the nFOG is to return the Book of Order to a framework guiding the detail work of presbyteries, rather than a rulebook through which one end of the church punishes another. We can complete the process with Book of Confessions revision to restore one authoritative confessional standard to the church, which would also be a framework for the detail work of the presbyteries.

Now, more than ever, we need to discuss the new Form of Government, modifying it if necessary, and adopt it at the next Assembly. Our current plan of division, dilution, and schism is clearly not working.


Rodger said...

WOW! 0 Comments on this post; and over 20 on those dealing with sex!

I'm starting to wonder if we are obsessed with only a couple of issues.

I think you are right on here. I was disappointed in the postponement of FOG until the 219th. We DO know that it's not working right now.

Michael Walker said...

Beau, your thoughts on the feasibility of being even more flexible in the nFOG, by embracing the proposal of Presbyterians For Renewal and moving toward non-geographic governing bodies? The "broadening church" phenomenon and the policy of "comprehension" has its limits. To keep this thing together, that proposal strikes me as the most reasonable and perhaps the one that fosters long-term unity more than any other. Let's see what happens after a couple decades of confessionally-oriented non-geographic governing bodies, a couple decades away from fighting over whether Presbyterians should worship with Muslims or whether the church is concerned about leaders insisting on having sex outside marriage. This proposal seems in keeping with the better insights of the nFOG. Could you go for that?

Gruntled said...

I don't know, Michael, our experience of English-speaking non-geographic presbyteries (the old Philadelphia Second, for example) is not good. I favor smaller presbyteries -- a dozen or twenty congregations - which is more likely to make for agreement.