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Theology Matters Jan/Feb - Nov/Dec 2001

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Theology, Analogies, and Genes by Robert A. J. Gagnon
Gagnon, who is author of the acclaimed book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, Abingdon, 2001, looks at Scripture and some of the arguments put forward by pro-homosexual advocates.  p. 1

Vote "NO" on Amendment H by Carol Shanholtzer
Shanholtzer critiques an amendment that would rewrite chapter 14 of the Book of Order.

Repent, Remember, Overcome: A Proposal to Renew the Church--Polity and Theology  by Susan Cyre
Cyre examines the relationship between polity and theology.


Theological Conflict: A Perspective from the Early Church by Gary Neal Hansen
Hansen is Associate Professor of Church History at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  He writes, "We are in a time of theological conflicts in the PC(USA). ..People on opposite sides of the issues look at the Church and are shocked. ..Conflict has always been a part of the life of the Church....this article will look at two examples of lengthy conflicts from long ago: The Donatist controversy and the Arian controversy from the early centuries of Christianity. We will see that the Church fought hard battles, that he battles were on the most foundational issues imaginable, that the battles lasted not merely for years but for centuries, and that God remained the faithful shepherd of the Church throughout."

Reflections on John Calvin and the Church Struggle in Geneva by David Wright
Wright was Professor of Patristic and Reformed Christianity, University of Edinburgh, New College, Edinburgh, Scotland.  Wright explains that often Calvin's time in Geneva is characterized as a "lenghty struggle followed by success for the Reformers."  Calvin wrote shortly before his death, "all I have done has been worth nothing, and I am a miserable creature... He [Calvin] departed not in splendid triumph nor in the warm glow of sunset, but with a sharp awareness that eh conflict would survive him, and might thereafter intensify."   Wright concludes, "for Calvin this earthly life as not the whole story.  he seems to have assumed it would always be a theatre of conflict.  he could no more escape it than he could opt out of human and churchly life altogether."  p. 7

Time to Quit? A Reflection on Perseverance by Roberta Hestenes
Reflecting on her time in Cambodia and seeing the "killing fields" and then Hebrews 12:2-4, Hestenes rebukes those who are tired of the conflicts in the PCUSA.  She writes, "It is my conviction that faithfulness to Christ calls us to persevere in the situation where He has placed us unless or until w are given very clear permission to remove.  Impatience or dislike of conflict are not reason enough to withdraw or quit. As long as we have freedom and opportunity to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, calling people to saving faith and a holy life, we should not abandon our vows and give up." p. 13

Repent, Remember, Overcome: A Proposal to Renew the Church by Susan Cyre and Terry Schlossberg
Beginning with this article, this series of articles argues that the confrontation between the church an the prevailing spirit of the age is basic to the church's mission and that the current conflict has historical precedent throughout Scripture. The authors start a discussion of effective steps to be taken to begin to reform and renew the church.  p. 14


New Church Development in a Pluralistic World: Messianic Jewish Congregations by H. Stanley Wood, Director of the Center for New Church Development, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA.
How do cultural aspects of our predominantly Gentile Church reach out to those that are different from us, namely the Jewish people? p.1

Jewish Ministry by Andrew Sparks, a Jewish believer in Jesus who serves as the Executive Director of Messiah Now Ministries.
Sparks looks at Jewish Ministry in Context--a modern Messianic Identity and practice; Ancient Messianic Jews and Legal identity, a Messianic model of ethics, Messianic faith in tension, Judaism in Crisis; Jewish-Christian polemic in the Middle Ages and in the modern period and Jewish Ministry in the First and Twenty-first centuries. p. 4


A Map for the Maze: Finding Your Way Through Contemporary Theology (A Guide for PNCs) by Randall Otto.  Dr. Otto is a PCUSA pastor with a Ph.D. in historical and theological studies.  Otto gives a map through the maze of contemporary theologies by contrasting them with the immanence and transcendence of God. "In his transcendence, God is eternally existent, self-sufficient and stands beyond creation. ... In his immanence, God graciously creates and upholds a world  with which to share his goodness and love..."  "Christian theology must always seek the proper balance between these tow poles or it will go astray."   Otto looks at, the revolt against immanence in Neo-Orthodoxy; the transcendence of the future--the theology of hope and political theology; transcendence with a story--Narrative Theology; immanence in experience of oppression--Liberation, Black and Feminist theologies; and the deepening of immanence--Process Theology and Openness Theology.  p. 1


Recovering the Ascension for the Transformation of the Church by Gerrit Scott Dawson, PCUSA pastor and author of numerous books. Dawson writes, "the ascension is an absolutely crucial part of the gospel story to recover.  Through the ascension we discover that the incarnation continues.  Jesus remains united to our human nature.  Thus he cannot be spiritualized into a principle of life, or collapsed into one manifestation of a God who is known many ways.  Moreover, the presence of our brother Jesus in heaven dramatically affects how we see our lives and place in the world today." 

Jesus Christ: Lord in History by Dr. Andrew Purves, Hugh Thomson Kerr Professor of pastoral Theology, Pittsburgh Theological seminary, Pittsburgh, PA.   Purves writes, "the major task of theology is in each generation to come to terms with the stubborn insistence on the part of the New testament and the church throughout history that the Word of God became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, entering into the frail and finite conditions of creaturliness for us and for our salvation, without ceasing to be what he ever was, is, and always will be: Lord of all."


Human Life, Natural Law, and Pastoral Care by J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy, the University of Texas at Austin. This article is part of a series in this issue of Theology Matters on end of life issues. Budziszewski summarizes the thinking on making euthanasia acceptable.  p. 1

Death and Euthanasia: Some Prior Questions by Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Executive Director of the Centre for Bioethics and Public Policy, London; and founding Editor of Ethics and Medicine. Cameron examines the question of human being; the question of death, the question of medicine, the question of bioethics.  p. 4

A Biblical Ethic for the End of Human Life by James R. Edwards, Professor of Religion, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA.  Edwards examines the nature of human life, the stewardship for life, and that you are not your own.  p. 6

Notes on a Theology of Suffering by C. Ben Mitchell, Associate Professor of bioethics and Contemporary Culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school, Deerfield, IL.   Mitchell looks at the problem of pain, the nature of suffering, making sense out of suffering, relieving suffering. p. 8

Deborah's Prayer by Deborah and Lyle Thorpe adapted from Ruth Myers' book 31 Days of Praise, Multnomah books, 1994.  Deborah and her husband prayed this prayer often during her extended terminal illness. Deborah passed away on December 27, 1999 from a rare neurological disease, striato-nigral degeneration, SND. p. 13