(Conversations with Bob! A place where even squares can have a ball!)
Thank you for your thoughtful post. I appreciate your struggle with faith and doubt. Our journeys of faith have many similarities.
A couple of folks have already responded to your post in the comments section. Some of those points are mine as well. You wrote:
And you wrote:
We make truth claims. Yes they are claims of faith and people can freely disagree with them. But part of the job of the Church is to assert those truth claims.
And in the PCUSA presbyteries and sessions are guardians of that truth.We have the truth word again. I see it a bit differently than you, I think. Some parts of the church find themselves in a tight spot. They want on one hand to assert and be guardians of truth. Is this Truth with a capital T or simply what a particular portion of an institution has decided to assert and guard as truth? Is Truth something one asserts and guards or something one discovers? I think some (many?) have turned away from Christianity because much of Christianity confuses its creeds with Truth. There is a difference.
From my experience, Truth is not something one asserts and guards, but something one continues to discover and refine. In my view, dogma or doctrine is something that is important as long as we realize that it is not absolute. This approach to the teachings and confessions of the church is one that values these teachings as places where we have been. The confessions are our history. They, like the Bible, which is also part of our history, contain truth. But the Absolute Truth? No, I don't think so.
This is why I call myself a Progressive Christian and why I think what is "essential" is different from your understanding in both form and content.
Here is point 5: Know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe.
And point 6: Find more grace in the search for understanding than we do in dogmatic certainty - more value in questioning than in absolutes.
That is part of the job of the church. And in the PCUSA sessions and presbyteries are guardians of that search for understanding.
I think it would be good to talk about community. I will let you start unless you have more to say about faith.