Monday, June 16, 2014

Voting Down More Polarization

This week I am blogging from the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly

The Polity Committee, on which I am serving, was asked to respond to an overture from a conservative presbytery to allow churches to switch to a more ideologically congenial presbytery.  This would increase the polarization in the denomination.

The committee voted down the proposal, 50 to 6.

This issue will come up again in the plenary in a few days, but I am predicting a similar outcome.

4 comments:

Gale Watkins said...

I was surprised to read in Bradley Longfield's Presbyterians and American Culture (2013) that in the 1830s, during the Old School/New School struggle, "some areas, like New York City, had formed different presbyteries, to allow clergy to join a presbytery by 'elective affinity.'" (77) Imagine that - Beaver-Butler has an idea to replicate something that was actually done long ago.

gruntled said...

Philadelphia also tried overlapping, ideological presbyteries. The experiment failed, as the stalwarts of the Old School did not preserve a redoubt, but simply withered until they were absorbed back into the regular geographic presbytery. The ideological fights of today rarely seem as relevant a generation later. They are not worth distorting polity over.

Whit Brisky said...

Gruntled, I agree insofar as it is my opinion that the majority and minority in the PCUSA have diverged so far from one another that having a separate, more conservative, Presbytery will only be a temporary salve to avoid the real decision. Any minority congregation (or Presbytery) that does not leave now will eventually converge with the majority theologically and politically. No evangelical looking for a new Church would ever visit a PCUSA congregation. And gradually, conservative members of evangelical congregations will die, give in to the larger culture or, fed up with the denomination, leave. This effect is increased by the departure of so many evangelical congregations, including some of the largest, over the last few years, which leaves the remaining evangelicals ever more rare, powerless and isolated.

gruntled said...

Yes. And then we can start the cycle again, with different issues defining liberal and conservative.