15 September 2009


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

-Carl Sandburg-

SWMBO and the kids are back in school. The cats have settled down for a much needed 18-hour nap after the hard work of eating breakfast, staring out the window at the trash truck, chasing air, and looking beautiful. And I can get back to the blogosphere.

Over at A Classical Presbyterian, Toby Brown has written a very nice cautionary piece about stewardship of emotion and effort, noting that we can often use up our strength on outrage when our energies could be better directed elsewhere. That piece struck home. There was a time when I scoured the web for news from the PC(USA) out of a need to protect our congregation from the depredations of the gang in Louisville. The disclosure of the Louisville Papers over a year after they had been distributed to presbyteries and synods revealed that secrecy and ambush were to be their chosen methods. But I also needed a place to vent against the hijackers of a once great denomination.

Two years ago, our little church on the hill—with other similarly situated congregations—fought our way out. Since that time, we have marveled at the peace, trust, and fellowship that can come from finding a home in a denomination that knows what it stands for and is unafraid to say just that. In the EPC, we found brothers and sisters who are not afraid to declare the sovereignty of God, the divinity of Christ, and the inerrancy of God’s word revealed in Scripture. In the EPC, we don’t need to tear pages or whole chapters out of our Bibles.

I write this by way of preface. My review of the antics and actions taken by the PC(USA) are no longer driven by self defense. I now have the freedom to watch what PC(USA) leadership and its minions are doing simply as an intellectual exercise. And they are making it easy.

The 2006 GA of the PC(USA) commissioned a re-write of its cumbersome Book of Order, but forbade any changes to the ordination standards set forth in §G-6.0106b or the odious unilateral declaration of a so-called property “trust.” The resulting product was released late and met with an uncharacteristic distrust across the denomination. Despite efforts by out-going Stated Clerk Kirkpatrick and his team to get the new form of government through the 2008 GA, it failed. Instead, the GA added some new members to the committee and directed them to take another crack at a re-write.

To their credit, the new committee worked hard to get their proposal out in sufficient time for people to study it. (A major criticism of nFOG.1 was that it was not released for review until just before the 2008 GA. Commissioners were leery of voting on something they had not read and digested—oh that the folks in Congress were so conscientious! But, I digress.) So, now it is out, loaded with booby traps for the unwary, a ticking time-bomb. If the 2010 GA does not reject this effort, and if the presbyteries adopt it, they cannot say that they did not have an opportunity to know what they were doing. And reject this piece of work they should.

As was the case with nFOG.1, nFOG.2 is a plan for reforming the PC(USA) into the Roman Catholic model of church governance. It strips congregations of long-held rights which protected them from unilateral action by the bureaucracy, remodels the “presbyterian” form of government into a hierarchical directorate, adds language that can be used to make payment of per capita mandatory, and adds a “fuehrer oath” for members of congregations.

As a child of the prairies of Illinois, I learned my Sandburg. His description of the fog as a silent predator, creeping into place unnoticed until it is too late for the prey, is an apt comparison to the nFOG that has now been unleashed on the PC(USA). I hope that sessions of the PC(USA) congregations will take responsibility to study nFOG.2 and act accordingly when they send commissioners to presbytery and the GA. If they do not, they have no one to blame but themselves.

-30- (Extra credit to the first one of you boys and girls who can explain this.)


Rev Kim said...

Mac, good to have you back. I hope, too, that commissioners read this with care. But having been to a GA in 2002 as a seminary advisory delegate and receiving the enormous package of amendments that filled an extra-large binder and encountering many commissioners who freely admitted not to reading through everything, and then after this year's reports and pics of so many commissioners playing solitaire during the meeting, I don't know how hopeful I am that nFOG2 will actually be read with care. Also, I fear hearing too many of the same old arguments filled with such logic as "let's just give this a try and see if it works!" Ugh.

Quotidian Grace said...

Extra credit answer: ~30- signifies the end of a story in a newspaper.

I'm very leery of the FOG as well, and other things. But we're trying our best to be faithful in our corner of the denomination.

Welcome back, Mac! We missed you.

Reformed Catholic said...

I fully suspect that if the nFOG makes it past the 2010GA, there will be another push at the presbytery level.

Added to that, the fact that there are already overtures to change or repeal the Fidelity and Chastity rule, it will be a very contentious year.