A comment on the campaign of litigation
|How shall the church deal with the
campaign of litigation?
Brian Wells comments on the continuing campaign of Paul
Rolf Jensen against "anyone considered theologically impure." He urges
those in "the Great Middle" of the church "to understand the folly of
trying to appease the reactionaries with G-6.0106b."
Without knowing precisely when, progressives long ago
predicted exactly where Paul Rolf Jensen et al would go next. If these
bullies stay true to form, the season of litigation against a "provocative"
few will become a flood of threats, investigations and witch trials against
anyone considered theologically impure. Even if all new charges are
ultimately rejected (and recent history suggests otherwise), the damage will
If ever the Great Middle might come to understand the
folly of trying to appease the reactionaries with G-6.0106b, surely it is
now. If any trusted they would refrain from using this loaded weapon along
with others to their most destructive potential, surely none can any longer.
Another decade's worth of outreach and education is unlikely to teach this
lesson to GA commissioners and presbytery voters more effectively than
Jensen is doing now. What year since Definitive Guidance has offered more
motivation, momentum or a better "climate" for striking this injustice from
the BOO? So it's all the more regrettable how diligently some historic
allies worked to kill chances for a vote this year. Even setting aside the
lack of theological merit to their arguments, it's time that those who
insisted on saving us from our perceived political and tactical naïveté
begin the healing by acknowledging that their timing was as poor as their
actions were patronizing.
Instead, Covenant Network stands by its "reluctant"
accomplishment in killing this year's vote, and leaves us waiting for it to
forecast a sufficiently improved "climate." Presumably then we'll have its
permission to ask for another vote on this unjust affront to the
commandments from Christ "above all others." Meanwhile, our unity is
damaged, our cause lacks the focus a pending vote would give, and the Church
fritters away its time choosing between pursuit of some unattainable "middle
way" or fretting over how to word the next call for "forbearance and
patience." In the interim we frogs become that much more accustomed to the
pot's ever rising water temperature, and to arguments that it will cool down
as soon as militants like Rev. Van Kuiken and others stop being so
provocative as to declare openly what the rest of us do quietly or
euphemistically, while pretending otherwise in public. Courage of conviction
is all well and good, it seems, but the current climate makes it impolitic
to practice except in moderation.
Beyond just crying over spilt milk, which admittedly I
haven't been able to stop doing since GA, I'm praying that Covenant Network
will have a change of heart, reach out to the Three Sisters and work
together to rebuild our shattered trust. Let's agree not to cancel each
other out the next time around. Let's define what climate, if not this one,
will enable us all to call for justice to come out and play. Let's decide
that just as Covenant Network's moderating voice plays a critical part in
inviting the whole Church to move toward justice, so does debate, votes at
GA and presbyteries, and personal acts of conscience. And let's have all the
boards communicate regularly and, when possible, cooperate and coordinate,
for Christ's sake and our own!
But if we don't reach consensus on our own, Jensen may
bring that lesson home to us anyway. As charges of "being unchaste," heresy
and forsaking our vows are brought in ever greater numbers, including
against leaders of Covenant Network, we may find sudden agreement about just
how poor the climate has become. We may finally agree on the need to act
decisively, immediately, and in concert.
Whatever may bring that about, I pray it does so before
any more are investigated, tried or defrocked - and while there's still time
for us to do something about it.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!