From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
The statement, which garnered unanimous approval by the CMD committee, has
been posted on the denomination's Web site - www.pcusa.org - and distributed
by mail to middle governing bodies and other officials of the PC(USA).
Subcommittee Chairman Jim Kirk said the document was especially timely in
light of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City and Washington, DC,
which have begun "conversations" between Christians and members of "the
fastest-growing faith in the United States" - Muslims. This document, he
said, will be "the lightning rod and the linchpin on which this discussion
Lynn Shurley, chairman of the CMD committee, said the statement "gets us out
of the panic of trying to draft a critical document on the spur of the
moment," as happened during the GA when commissioners decided to address a
controversy over the Presbyterian understanding of Jesus Christ and his role
The GA issued a statement that was extensively amended on the floor and
later was criticized by some as ambiguous and inadequate.
Small said the new statement on Christology should not be seen as a direct
response to the GA statement or the criticisms leveled against it.
"We were well aware of the state of the discussion in the church and the
controversies," he said, "and so we tried to be cognizant of that reality as
we wrote. But we weren't crafting this to address any particular segment of
the church ... but rather to provide as near as we could a faithful
exposition of the church's confessional teaching, and of our own
He said it is intended merely as "a clear articulation of Christian faith
and of the Reformed tradition, as we express the Christian faith."
Small said the statement makes clear that "one of the marks of the Reformed
tradition ... always has been a clear confidence and celebration of the
sovereign freedom of God. Our salvation is due to God's grace and not
anything in ourselves... We are utterly dependent on God. ... How God deals
with any of us is a question of God's grace and God's mercy. That's what I
rely on; I don't rely on the purity of my own faith, for heaven's sake. ...
I'd be a lost soul, if that was what I had to rely on."
The paper says that its authors "join with the church throughout the
centuries that God was in Christ. God is not a mysterious unknown who
remains veiled in remote transcendence. God has come among us in terms we
can understand, in the human one, Jesus of Nazareth."
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