humility versus arrogance, and the road to Christian unity

Sunday morning class at First Presbyterian

Sunday morning, during the “education hour” at church, two members of our congregation gave a program designed to fill interested folk in on some of the actions taken by the bi-annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The General Assembly (for those of you unfamiliar with the Presbyterian Church) is equivalent to Congress in our representative form of government. It’s where bills are introduced, declarations are made, and passionate arguments delivered vis-a-vis issues ranging from the monumental to the mundane.

Shelby, sharing her experiences in Pittsburg

(It’s also the place where some people like to point out how closely aligned their position is to the perfect will of God, and how far from the purity of biblical truth their opponents have strayed!)

But regardless of controversy, both of our presenters – Shelby Dale (who attended as a Youth Advisory Delegate) and David Childs – were moved by the pervasive spirit of understanding, respect, and willingness to listen that they witnessed during the long week of mission, business, worship and fellowship.

David speaking about the process

GOOD WORDS: One particular point of ongoing contention has resulted in deep division over the past decade. I’m talking (no surprise) about the long conversation within the Presbyterian Church regarding same-sex relationships.

Now I’m not – and you need to hear this so you don’t miss the point of this post – staking out a position regarding either ordination standards or same-gender unions. But what I am doing is commenting on what we ALL can learn from the following statement that was adopted by the 2012 General Assembly.

(The 2012 General Assembly) acknowledges that faithful Presbyterians earnestly seeking to follow Jesus Christ hold different views about what the Scriptures teach concerning the morality of committed, same-gender relationships” and that “the Presbyterian Church (USA) does not have one interpretation of Scripture in this matter.

MUTUAL LOVE OF JESUS: Now that, friends, is a critically important statement, a declaration conceived in humility and emerging out of the understanding that good and faithful Christians can be passionate followers of Jesus and – at the same time – hold radically different positions when it comes to social issues, politics, and more….

Let’s read it again, and this time take out the red-flag words “same-gender relationships.” “Faithful (Christians) earnestly seeking to follow Jesus Christ hold different views about what the Scriptures teach…”

Always learning from others…

Isn’t that the truth! So how about a large dose of that kind of humility for the rest of us, no matter what denominational affiliation we currently hold, “Bible-believing” Christians every one!

In love – DEREK

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4 thoughts on “humility versus arrogance, and the road to Christian unity

  1. That statement is crucial, Derek. Thanks for pointing it out to folks who may not be aware of all the goings on at GA. As God’s children we are a diverse group. As we struggle with our beliefs regarding all kinds of human/humane concerns, we need to remember that those of us who love Christ need to be tolerant, nonjudgemental, and merciful toward all God’s children. Not just those who happen to agree with us. And perhaps we all need to be open to the possibility that God is still trying to speak to us.


  2. Wow! I wonder if the DoC might get in line with this?! This is great, but be ready to have to defend it as it most certainly will be called a cop out on both sides of the equation. I for one like it!


    1. I thought about the “cop out” thing… But that only has traction if you have to insist on the need for someone to be right and someone to be wrong!
      Always appreciate your good feedback!


  3. Hi, Derek,

    A while ago the Southern Church supported slavery and that’s why there was a major split at the time of the Civil War. Well, that stance has come and gone. Then there was the controversy about ordaining women to be Ministers of the Word and Sacrament and also as Ruling Elders. Well, that’s come and gone too, although this issue is what caused a major split at First Brandon about 40 years ago. Now we have the issue of active human sexuality of the same-sex kind. Well that continues to boil and will probably continue to do so for a while. It caused First Orlando to secede from the denomination and, quite disturbingly, seriously threatens First Lakeland, a very conservative church which is thinking of a secession, too. Pray for all this as we progress through what I’d like to call “evolving standards of human decency”.



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