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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Slow News Week for the LayMAN





The LayMAN has decided to take a few shots at the new vice-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Rev. Landon Whitsitt.





In a meandering post that moves from wikipedia to crowdsourcing to Phyllis Tickle, former editor of the LayMAN, Parker Williamson, has gone on a Whitsitt hunt.

The Holy One of Lenoir explains Whitsitt's "world":

What’s lacking, of course, is our refusal to acknowledge any authority above ourselves. We’re talking here of a world without God, a world that does not – will not – hear “Thus says the Lord,” a world where “crowdsourcing” is all there is.

This is the world that the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s vice moderator embraced when shortly after the General Assembly adjourned, he opined that “Scripture is no longer an authority.”
To get what Parker is talking about, you have to follow his link to another LayMAN article entitled: PCUSA Vice-Moderator: "Scripture is Not the Word of God".

I have to say the title alone is enough to make me admire Whitsitt. At most "Word of God" is a metaphorical combination. I personally think it does more harm than good and that we should stop using it as I wrote here.

I am not sure that is where Landon is. I'd hate to see the poor guy sent to hell because I have praised him. Finally, after working through the links I find the the source of the damning quote, an interview with Whitsitt shortly after he took office, A Leader Rethinks Church. Yet this is all I found:

'Sola Scriptura' is dead most places, and dying rapidly in others. So where do we lodge the authority of our faith? That's the real battle we see fought in the church. We're not really arguing about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) inclusion, we're arguing about how we read the Bible.
I still haven't found where he said, "Scripture is not the Word of God."

Maybe he said, "Scripture is not the Word of God" somewhere else or maybe the LayMAN is just telling an Appalachian tall tale. They are common in these parts.

Landon's quote about sola scriptura is interesting. I personally think he is doing a good thing for the church. I wonder if the difference between the "worlds" of Parker and Landon is the difference between understanding faith as clinging to a slogan and repeating it vs. reflecting on what it means and making some decisions about its usefulness.

Good job, Landon. These are questions the church needs to talk about even if it is brought into the conversation kicking and screaming.


UPDATE: OK, I think I found it. At the end of the first LayMAN article, it reads:
Whitsitt added that he believes Jesus Christ is the final authority, and the disagreement over Scripture is on how it’s read and at what point it should be authoritative.

“What I’m trying to do is place Scripture at a specific point in the process of trying to discern what the Word of God would have us do,” he said. “Scripture is only a reference point to the Word of God, it’s not the Word of God, you know, capital W. It’s only a reference point.”
That is not the same as declaring as the title did: "Scripture is not the Word of God."

What Whitsitt is saying is pretty standard stuff. I mean what else can a metaphor do but point?
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