Long time no blog!
Let’s see—updates. Strong Heart was approved for ordination! I ended up traveling with her, through a complicated series of events… It was all for the good, because then I got to be there to celebrate with her.
But I barely had time to recover from Pride when I had to finish preparing for my debate on the next Sunday—this past Sunday, as those of you who attended the Preacher’s Party know!
What happened was this—the pastor of a local Presbyterian church contacted
Of course, over time, many of those congregations have shifted a bit. Also, don’t forget that this is
So I read
Saturday night I had dinner with Presby Pastor, his wife, an elder from the church and her husband, and my opponent. He’s a layperson from
I felt much relieved—I had feared that he would be someone who had been active for a long time, who was practised at this sort of debate, who had soundbites at his fingertips…but he wasn’t.
I don’t mean to disparage his belief—it’s what works for him, apparently (although I have my doubts). But he simply wasn’t prepared, and it showed.
We had two debates, one at the early service and one at the later service. The structure was that after an introduction and set up by Presby Pastor, we each had ten minutes to make our statement. Then we each had five minutes for rebuttal, and five more for a final summary. Not a lot of time to make complicated arguments about how we read the Bible or dissecting 1st century Greek!
My basic points were these:
Christis the centre of Christianity, not the Bible; to whom do we give ultimate authority? Christnever turned anyone away, in fact when people were dissuaded from coming to him, he insisted they be allowed to come (the children, the woman who wiped his feet with her hair, etc.)
- God and the Bible do not change, but our understanding and interpretation of them do; over time, the circle of inclusion has enlarged to bring in Gentiles, slaves, women, people of colour, divorced persons, and so on, as we have changed our understanding of what the Bible is saying to us
- I asked two questions (really the same one): “What would
Jesusdo?” and “Would Jesus discriminate?”
- For you United Church of Christ pastors, I borrowed your denomination’s wonderful phrase: “Never put a period where God has placed a comma.”
I didn’t try to address the individual verses (the “clobber passages) partly for lack of time and partly because I didn’t want to get too technical and complicated. I did talk about them briefly but in the larger context of not being able to examine modern relationships in 1st century terms—context, in other words.
It was curious for me—I did not feel nervous. I was keyed up, but not scared or nervous. I could actually feel the prayers and positive thoughts and feelings of so many of you surrounding me, I knew it would be OK. No matter what the end result was, I knew it was in God’s hands.
There was no declared winner or loser; Presby Pastor told his congregation that they were responsible for their own consciences, their own opinions—he wasn’t going to tell them how to think. It was their duty to do the reading and research and make up their own minds, and then hold to that opinion with commitment and compassion.
All in all, a better experience than I had thought it might be. Wonderful conversations with members afterwards too, mostly supportive.
So what’s up in your world?