Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Another perspective on the decision facing NPC

  Our church has been having a largely intellectual discussion about the background of our Session's recent decision to enter the process of moving from PC(USA) to ECO
Instead of denominations and labels, what if our two choices were represented by these words and emotions:
   #1“Stability” comfort. . . The way I remember things. . . “The church of my mother, my father, my grandparents”  Christmas eve services. . . Stained Glass. . . Peace. . . . . Openness. . .Harmony. . .security
   #2 : Change. . Hurry . .compulsion anger strife disagreement Doctrine “The church I left in sadness or anger years ago” Danger. . . risk “Doctrines I disagree with or don’t understand—that can’t be good” “Certainty of danger for an uncertain result” Fear. . .clamor. . .disquiet
When I hear the discussion, and when I feel my own emotions and imagine those of people in the room (including facial expressions), it seems like that’s what we are up against.  #1 vs #2. . . . . stability vs. the unknown or the unwanted.
For some, PC(USA) represents security and a defense against change.  PC(USA is the “way things have been” and/or “the way they ought to be”
This positive, historical image of PC(USA) may explain our division more clearly than philosophy.
ECO is different and seems strange: there are few ECO churches in our area, and the closest, in Quincy, MA, is not a church we have worked and fellowshipped with in the recent past.

So, are we presented with a choice between stability and the unknown? People may sincerely feel this way, but this does not describe the real world in which finite humans must live.  Stability is not an option.  We don’t have a pastor.  We don’t have a low-maintenance, new, energy efficient building.  We don’t have a long list (or even a short list)of experienced, excited, educated pastoral candidates, eager to affiliate or remain with PC(USA).  We DO have uncertain prospects of raising the millions needed to return our building to its original condition, plus millions more to make it energy efficient.  In sum, we already have the emotions I’ve assigned to choice #2.  Wherever we go, denominationally, even if we choose to stay with PC(USA), Choice #2 is already our reality, and Choice #1 is simply not an option.  We can imagine stability, but we can’t manufacture it.  The only choices in a real world are between different paths of change that define the sort of future for which we are willing to sacrifice even more of our time and treasure. 
What do YOU think?  Are there any emotions involved, or is this purely an intellectual and financial calculation?  Let's talk--I will respond, and I will do my best to be fair.  Darrell

1 comment:

Liz King said...

Absolutely I believe in the primacy of the Bible in our daily lives. I surely have thought about this a lot as well.

I have questions however.

Lot sent his daughters to be raped by the evil ones in Sodom. God saved him from the destruction. Yes this is per Abraham's request, but it does not take away from the fact that Lot did not ask forgiveness for this behavior, which now is certainly considered heinous.

How does one reconcile that? One can't say that was the culture of the times or standards of their sexual behavior without implying that culture affects Biblical application. The same goes for having multiple wives, such as Rachel and Leah, concubines, and certainly the punishments given.

One needs to be careful, because, I believe, there is no such thing as a Christian who is not a "cafeteria Christian" (one who picks out what one wants to follow in the Bible).

There's one more thing about culture. In the 1980's the push in Christianity was to minimize differences among Christians. The pendulum has swung, and now the culture encourages dividing along theological lines. Nomatter where one stands, this is an example of religion following the culture of the times.