Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Many years ago during a meeting of rabbis, pastors, and priests in Cranford, New Jersey, I learned it's possible to be conciliatory even if you cannot be reconciled.
Etymologists will claim those words have the same roots and, ergo, same essential definitions.
While I may be wrong, I disagree.
It doesn't matter though; so I'm not gonna get into a tinkling contest over it.
As I'm increasingly prone to say, if you're looking for an argument, get a mirror.
I just learned people can get along even if they have some very, very, very sharp emotional, intellectual, and spiritual differences.
And, heaven, if we don't start learning how to...
Getting back to the Garden State, the clergy of different persuasions got together to discuss manger scenes on public property.
Being a lot younger and bolder, I started right in rather stridently, "Let's admit it! We have an irreconcilable theological difference here! We believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and you don't!"
An old rabbi with a long gray beard in typical attire stood up and spoke softly, "My young Christian friend is right; and I'll be damned if he's right. But I'm betting my soul that he's wrong just as much as he's betting his soul that he's right."
We could not reconcile the theological difference.
We did decide to place a manger scene and menorah in front of the library.
We were conciliatory even if not reconciled.
While I'm Christological, Pauline, and even Freudian when it comes to sexual couplings/nuptials, I'm aware of the increasing diversity in our world, country, and even churches when it comes to that kinda stuff.
My friends on the right are very mad at me because I just can't make this into a kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it thing and my friends on the left are very mad at me because I just can't make this into a kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it thing.
While I'm convinced rather egotistically and condescendingly and narcissistically and arrogantly that our world, country, and even churches would be sooooooo much better off if everybody were philosophically, ideologically, and theologically spoon-fed by me - Even if you don't ever think like that (Yeah, right!), the hard left and hard right always think like that! - I know there ain't no chance of that ever happening.
I've learned a very hard lesson over the years.
I've often been wrong and had to confess it and repent from it.
While I'm still betting my soul on Jesus as Lord and Savior with enthusiasm and without equivocation, I'm not going to bet my soul on many other things.
I'm just not as egotistical, condescending, narcissistic, and arrogant as the hard left and hard right.
With the aforementioned in mind, how can we remain faithfully in a denomination like all the others that's increasingly apostate under current management?
While I may be wrong, how we approach the same-sex nuptials thing could provide a model for being conciliatory even if not reconciled.
Soooooooo I asked folks from differing philosophical, ideological, and theological perspectives for suggestions on how we can be conciliatory about something like same-sex nuptials when we know sooooooo many differences about 'em can never be reconciled apart from an Acts 1:11b apocalypse.
Then I went to my ecclesiastical superiors - Executive/General Presbyter who is kinda like a bishop or DS and Chairwoman of our Committee on Ministry who is kinda like a referee - for counsel on how to draft something for a vote by Blackhawk Presbytery - which is kinda like a diocese or conference - on dealing with the issue in a conciliatory if not reconciled kinda way.
While I learned something from everyone, no one should be blamed for what I will be suggesting to Blackhawk Presbytery at its next stated meeting on November 11.
Moreover, because everybody from every philosophical, ideological, and theological direction has already made up her or his noodle on it - and if they haven't, they must have been watching too many re-runs of Breaking Bad or starring in The Walking Dead - I'll just move it, hope for a second, suggest a quick vote without debate, sit down, and never talk about it again.
Here's what I'm gonna move: "Acknowledging same-sex nuptials are legal in Illinois and the PCUSA affords discretion to its teaching elders by the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly to preside or not preside at such rituals+ceremonies=rites and particular churches may host or not host such ordinances upon session approval subject to the review of higher judicatories, Blackhawk Presbytery will honor the consciences of teaching elders and particular churches within its bounds; noting its members are divided among those who embrace the authoritative interpretation as witness to progressive theology and those who reject it according to traditional Christianity. Presiding/participating teaching elders and hosting churches may exercise their consciences as permitted by the authoritative interpretation. No efforts to force teaching elders and sessions who decline to preside/participate/host will be encouraged, enabled, or condoned. Those who embrace and those who decline do not need to fear ministerial infringements or vocational reprisals in Blackhawk Presbytery."
Anyone from left, right, up, or down who doesn't get why such a motion is necessary in today's secular and ecclesiastical cultures that are often hard to distinguish from each other is naive or stoned.
My guess is this will ___ off my friends on the right, confuse 'em on the left, and maybe, just maybe, prayerfully maybe, convince a remnant that it's possible to be conciliatory even if not reconciled.
Of course, if ya think this is one of those kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it litmus tests of fidelity...
I may be wrong.
For me, it's simple.
I'm praying and trying to follow Jesus by the book.
Sooooooo what happens if the government, courts, PCUSA, or any other denomination require its pastors/sessions/churches to preside/participate/host or lose their ordinations/credentials/etc.?
Let me be clear, crisp, concise, and conclusive.
I'll never, never, never preside/participate at/in the aforementioned because I'm convinced it's categorically antithetical to two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity.
I don't care what the government, courts, or any church rules.
God first, only, and always as best revealed in Jesus by the book.
"We must obey God first, foremost, always, and only!"
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"
Read 9.03 of C67.
That's where I'm praying and trying to be because that's where He and His are!
I like the way Luther put it...
Blessings and Love!