From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Theological Issues and Institutions

Date Wed, 30 Jun 2004 11:36:15 -0500

Note #8359 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Theological Issues and Institutions
June 30, 2004

Theological Issues and Institutions

by Bill Lancaster

RICHMOND, June 30 - The Committee on Theological Issues and Institutions
approved the preliminary report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity
and Purity (TTF) Monday and endorsed its call for all PC(USA) sessions and
presbyteries to create "intentional gatherings" of Presbyterians to discuss
the "affirmations" in the report.

Task force member Mark Achtemeier told the committee that the group has
concluded that "drawing closer to Jesus Christ is the key to holding peace,
unity and purity together" in the church. Another member, Stacy Johnson,
said: "Some say the task force has met for three years with little to show
for it	... (but) we were not asked to impose a solution from the top down;
we were asked to help the whole church take ownership of the issues. ...
Ownership of the task force's work belongs to you."

Johnson said the task force is "exploring workable proposals" for learning
"how to be Presbyterian and to allow our differences to edify, not divide."

An overture calling for a more specific definition of the "essential tenets"
of the Reformed faith drew a lot of opposition. Six people spoke against the
measure, including the Rev. Jack Rogers, a former Assembly moderator, and
Elder Doug Otatti, a seminary professor and author.

Rogers, a retired seminary professor, told the committee, "My main teaching
role has been on our Reformed confessions and our Presbyterian tradition,"
then quoted the Westminster Confession's observation that synods and councils
can err."

"All lists of essential tenets are interpretations," Otatti said. "They all
form a kind of 'Cliff Notes' on the original. ... You already have short
lists: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Brief Statement of Faith."

Three people spoke against a paper on language to be used to describe the
Trinity. Peggy Hinton, an elder from Columbus, OH, said God "has chosen to
reveal himself to us through Jesus Christ" and "the Old Testament refers to
God as Yahweh," but the draft paper "de-emphasizes the very words that God
himself uses to describe himself."

The Rev. Shelly Parsons, an observer, defended the report, saying that it
"affirms that all of our language is inadequate to describe the Trinitarian
God," affirms "the language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit," and is "in line
with scripture and the Book of Confessions."

In other action, the committee voted to recommend endorsement of two seminary
presidents - Iain R. Torrance for Princeton Theological Seminary, and Dean K.
Thompson for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The committee also
endorsed a suggestion from the Trinity Work Group that Presbyterians be asked
for "response and comment to the current draft" of the group's paper on the
Reformed doctrine of the Trinity. A final version is to be submitted to the
217th Assembly in 2006.

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