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6 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 3:29PM #11
sterrettc
Posts: 89
[QUOTE=CalKnox;212396]If there are no “settled matters,” no essentials, no “faith which was once delivered to the saints,” we have no message to preach, no faith in common.  It takes more than organizational momentum to make a church.  Presbyterianism wouldn’t exist, and will not survive, without a common confession.[/QUOTE]

I agree, to a point.  I think that we should be willing, figuratively and literally, to stand and say what we believe.  Yet, at the same time, I think that we err if we believe that a confession is complete and true just because it was a consensus at one time.  We have a tendency to mix God's truth with liberal amounts of our prejudices.  We can and should embrace the collective wisdom of our ancestors in faith, but at the same time remember that they, like us, were human.

The PC(USA) GA, from time to time, will approve theological statements.  This is an exercise of their responsibility "to warn or bear witness against error in doctrine or immorality in practice in or outside the church." (G-13.0103p)  There is a similar provision for the Synod (G-12.0102m) "in the area of its jurisdiction."   I have been serving as a commissioner to the synod, and I think that we don't do enough theological-confessional work there.

Interestingly, there is no similar provision at the presbytery or session level.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 3:41PM #12
AppleMan
Posts: 348
We in the PCUSA do not claim to have a confession. We have a Book of Confessions.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 6:19PM #13
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=CalKnox;212396]If there are no “settled matters,” no essentials, no “faith which was once delivered to the saints,” we have no message to preach, no faith in common.  It takes more than organizational momentum to make a church.  Presbyterianism wouldn’t exist, and will not survive, without a common confession.[/QUOTE]

Respectfully Cal,

The 'faith' once delivered to the saints... was the work of a committee.  'Faith,' in that context, consists of some tenets, a system of belief.  'Faith,' in that context, is not ultimate trust in God in Christ.

The believer doesn't need the (accumulated!) work of a committee to trust God in Christ!  Amen.


And, Presbyterianism ain't all that important in the grand scheme of things, right!?!  :-)   The, as in THE definitive, confession is "we trust God in Christ."  No -ism speaks power to that, brother!  !  !
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 6:34PM #14
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=CalKnox;215605]But, as Presbyterians?

[Given the historic definition of the term.]

Of course, Presbyterianism in the historic and confessional sense exists among the continuing churches.

What are the essentials of being Presbyterian?[/QUOTE]


"Presbyterianism... exists among the continuing churches."  Circular reasoning... a textbook example if there ever was one!  My word, Cal, it is only in the minds of those who think they are true to the "historic and confessional" essentials (and how the heck is that measured over the centuries with any degree of statistical relability?!?) that such tail-chasing makes any sense.

One who says she is a Presbyterian is a Presbyterian, essentially (if being a Presb is of major significance...).  There is no way to judge today's context over against that of England near the beginning of the third third of the 17th century.  It is like standing on flour in a sifter!

Trying to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ is a challenge in every age and -isms are all that helpful anyway.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 6:47PM #15
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=sterrettc;215666]I agree, to a point.  I think that we should be willing, figuratively and literally, to stand and say what we believe.  Yet, at the same time, I think that we err if we believe that a confession is complete and true just because it was a consensus at one time.  We have a tendency to mix God's truth with liberal amounts of our prejudices.  We can and should embrace the collective wisdom of our ancestors in faith, but at the same time remember that they, like us, were human.

The PC(USA) GA, from time to time, will approve theological statements.  This is an exercise of their responsibility "to warn or bear witness against error in doctrine or immorality in practice in or outside the church." (G-13.0103p)  There is a similar provision for the Synod (G-12.0102m) "in the area of its jurisdiction."   I have been serving as a commissioner to the synod, and I think that we don't do enough theological-confessional work there.

Interestingly, there is no similar provision at the presbytery or session level.[/QUOTE]


"to mix God's truth with liberal amounts of our prejudices"

is our religious proclivity.  Trying, as GA and/or Synod do from time to time, to be faithful to our collective heritage, as it corresponds to the will of God the Holy Trinity, is a worthy aspiration.  It is one in which we will fail, but try we must. 

Well said.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 8:20AM #16
AppleMan
Posts: 348
[QUOTE=AppleMan;215684]We in the PCUSA do not claim to have a confession. We have a Book of Confessions.[/QUOTE]

To further clarify:
We humans are constrained by time and space. We have the task of discerning what the Holy Spirit leads us to do in OUR time and space.  Our arbiter of whether it is truly the Spirit leading us (or is our own selfish motives) is the Bible.

The Book of Confessions is useful because it helps us understand how our forefathers experienced the leading of the Holy Spirit in THEIR time and place, while they confronted a different set of issues.

However, it does not relieve us from letting the Holy Spirit guide us today in our time and place.

To say that we are constrained by a confession from the 1600's seems to say that the Holy Spirit has not been active since the 1600's, although I am sure that is not what you meant.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 11:01AM #17
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=sterrettc;215666]I agree, to a point.  I think that we should be willing, figuratively and literally, to stand and say what we believe.  Yet, at the same time, I think that we err if we believe that a confession is complete and true just because it was a consensus at one time.  We have a tendency to mix God's truth with liberal amounts of our prejudices.  We can and should embrace the collective wisdom of our ancestors in faith, but at the same time remember that they, like us, were human.[/QUOTE]

No confession can be exhaustive or infallible.  Westminster made no such claims.  Yes, we may mix liberal amounts of our prejudices with God’s truth.  However, the issue here: Have we known and do we know any Truth of God which we may state with certainty?  Are there Essential Truths for Christians and Presbyterians on which all true believers agree and about which they do not contend with one another?  Or, is the only “Essential Truth,” “There’s nothing we know for certain except that we know nothing for certain.” [A contradiction in itself!]
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 11:18AM #18
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=AppleMan;215684]We in the PCUSA do not claim to have a confession. We have a Book of Confessions.[/QUOTE]

This thread concerns not how many documents a denomination preserves in their theological archives, but a confessional Standard of “settled matters.”  The PCUSA implies there are such when they ask officers to affirm:

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?

And, that such are based upon a specific authority:

Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 11:30AM #19
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=smc93;216033]The 'faith' once delivered to the saints... was the work of a committee.  'Faith,' in that context, consists of some tenets, a system of belief.  'Faith,' in that context, is not ultimate trust in God in Christ.

The believer doesn't need the (accumulated!) work of a committee to trust God in Christ!  Amen.



Such implies a wordless and propositionless faith in a “God in Christ” about which we know nothing for sure.  However, even such a contentless faith must be affirmed by some minimal proposition.

And, Presbyterianism ain't all that important in the grand scheme of things, right!?!  :-)   The, as in THE definitive, confession is "we trust God in Christ."  No -ism speaks power to that, brother!  !  ![/QUOTE]

If Presbyterians don’t hold some valuable element of theological truth and practice in trust for the larger Christian community, why continue the institutional pretense?  Just so you’ll have a salary and collect a pension?

My Mormon neighbors can say, “We trust God in Christ.”  Why not tell your congregation to go join the Mormons or Unitarians and drop the pretense of teaching something important until retirement age?

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6 years ago  ::  Jan 16, 2008 - 11:33AM #20
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=smc93;216091]One who says she is a Presbyterian is a Presbyterian, essentially (if being a Presb is of major significance...).  There is no way to judge today's context over against that of England near the beginning of the third third of the 17th century.  It is like standing on flour in a sifter![/QUOTE]  My Mormon neighbors now say they are "Christians."  Are they?
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