Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Time for a Theological Upgrade?

I wrote a post for the Presbyterian Voices for Justice, Fall 2015 Network News.  It is "A Call to the Entire Church." You will find it on pages 4-7.

I respond to the moderator's "call to the church."  I think this would be a great time to explore theology and to make official what many of us do anyway, and that is be open to a wide variety of beliefs, including non-theism.    The Jesus Seminar is talking about this with their new God and the Human Future Seminar.  Coming to Beaverton, November 6-7!

They are asking whether or not "God" has a future.  Many people are asking including many in our pews and many who have left the pews because our dogma is dated.    I think we need to make space to talk about it.   Here is what I wrote...


In a recent issue of the Presbyterian Outlook, Moderator Heath Rada, has issued “A Call to the Church.” 

He is calling for
“A churchwide discussion to assess the will of the PC(USA) that would be led by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. The Office of the General Assembly is expected to make an announcement soon of how that will work.”
Why? He said:
“There is a profound and rapid change in the world around us that has put the Church’s relevance (not just PCUSA but the entire Church) in question in ways we have not seen in our lifetime."
I am full agreement on both points. The world has changed and we need to talk about it. I can’t be sure exactly what “rapid and profound change” Moderator Rada has in mind, but I think it has to do with theology. I think our theology is still in the 17th century while we live in the 21st century. The dogmas of our religious heritage do not meet the challenges of the world presented to us by science and by social science. All of the beliefs we are supposed to affirm such as Creation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection of the body of Jesus, miracles, original sin, atonement, heaven and hell, and a supernatural interventionist god called God are metaphors.  At least that’s what I think. I also think many church members and teaching elders think like I do even as for various reasons they are not able to say it clearly.  (Read More)


A concrete change to make is to change radically the ordination questions.  They turn people off and drive people away.   My session is already sending three resolutions to the presbytery about fossil fuel divestment, recommitting to social justice, and evolution.  Another to remove the first four ordination questions is too much for one day.  But maybe someone else will send such an overture.  

I think it is time.  What do you think?   Or perhaps more to the point, what is the purpose of the ordination questions and what do they mean to you?