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Theology Matters Jan/Feb - Nov/Dec 2003

Jonathan Edwards in 2003 by Stephen D. Crocco
Crocco gives a brief introduction to the articles in this issue of Theology Matters on the 300th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Edwards, a Presbyterian minister and perhaps the greatest thinker in the American colonial period.  p. 1

Edwards's Lessons on the Revival of the Church by Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe
Some of the lessons that Hambrick-Stowe explores are: Persistence, Humility, Piety, Theology matters, and Renewal is about holiness.  p. 2

Jonathan Edwards on the Experience of Beauty by Louis J. Mitchell
"For Edwards, to experience God's Holy Spirit is to experience Beauty, itself; and all worldly beauties, as rapturous as they may be, are but inferior shadows of that Beauty."  Mitchell looks at Beauty Defined, Beauty of Love, and Beauty Displayed in Edwards's writings,  p. 6

Jonathan Edwards Responds to Deism by Gerald R. McDermott
"Edwards expended considerable effort wrestling with the deist claim that reason alone can show humanity the most basic religious truths.  Edwards agreed that reason alone can teach a considerable range of religious truth, but only when connected rightly to the heart that is open to the beauty of God."  Reason alone was never able to show how sinful humans could be reconciled to their Creator.   p. 9

Jonathan Edwards in Modernity: A Review Essay by Mark Valeri
Valeri reviews books published 1998-2003 on Jonathan Edwards and concludes, "The current cultural agenda raises questions about Christianity and non-Christian discourses, religious truth claims in a pluralist society, and the meaning of even the most basic Reformed beliefs.  Edwards's conversation with Enlightened interlocutors is strikingly contemporary in such terms."  p. 12


Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives  approved by San Diego Presbytery
These Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives were written by members of the San Diego Presbytery and approved by the Presbytery on June 18, 2003 for use by the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) and the Committee on Ministry (COM) in evaluating and presenting candidates for Minister of Word and Sacrament.  These Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives may be used informally by helping clergy and elders formulate questions to ask candidates seeking admission to the presbytery.  They may be used by Pastoral Nominating Committees to evaluate the theology of pastors they are interviewing.  They may also be used as a teaching tool to train and equip church leaders.  p. 1


Christian Doctrine and Human Life by Terry Schlossberg
Schlossberg looks at doctrines of Creation, Redemption, the Church, Forgiveness of Sins, the Resurrection and how they speak to our care for unborn children.  p. 1

Advances in the Understanding of Fetal Pain by Jean A. Wright
Wright who is Executive Director of Bachus Children's Hospital in Savannah, GA discusses the most recent developments in understanding fetal pain.  p. 4

One Hospital's Ministry when a Preborn Child Dies by Rhonda Lindamood and Cleo Williams
Williams and Lindamood describe how the New River Valley Hospital in Radford, VA ministers to families when a preborn child dies.  p. 8

A Worship Service for Families Who Have Lost a Preborn Child by Susan Cyre
Often families who have lost a preborn child have no worship service celebrating the resurrection and little or no church support. Sometimes grandparents do not live nearby and so grieve alone and in silence when their unborn grandchild dies.  This article describes one church's annual worship service for those who have lost a child.  p. 9

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End by Maureen Condic
Condic, an assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah, addresses the scientific questions of when life begins by looking at how doctors determine when life ends. p. 11


Orphaned Children Sing Lonely Songs: Why We're Losing the Person of the Father by Gerrit Dawson
Dawson describe the impact of inclusive God language on the faith of the church. He looks at: the Pastoral Impulse to Remove The Father; Radical Feminism, the Father and Abortion, the Father and Homosexuality.  Then Dawson explains how we can recover our understanding of the Father: the Biblical Record and the Patristic Witness.   Dawson writes, "We must never let the Father be taken away from his children.  At the worst, then, participating in the diminishment of the Father is to join those who rage out of woundedness that has hardened into rebellion.  It is to prefer our ideas to what has been revealed.  It is to choose our way of coping over against God's way of healing."  p. 1

A Crushing Disappointment: The Proposed PCUSA Policy Statement on 'Living Faithfully with Families in Transition" by Alan Wisdom
Wisdom critiques the "Families in Transition" paper that was sent to the 2003 General Assembly.  It was approved by the Assembly.


The State of the Church by Jerry Andrews
Andrews comments on the state of the church in October 2002 after the defeat of Amendment A the previous spring. Amendment A sought to remove the ordination standard that officers were to live faithfully in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastely in singleness.   p.1

Church Renewal by Diane Knippers
Reprinted from a talk given to the Association of Church Renewal Confessing Christ Conference in Indianapolis, IN, October 2002.  Knippers explains that "Reformation is simply one of the ongoing tasks of the church.  And we must look for the blessing of this work--that our most difficult battles may produce incredible gifts for our children's children."  The attributes of the contemporary reform movements are: It is mature and diverse; it is ecumenical; it is profoundly theological; it addresses moral issues; it is global; it is generational." p. 4

Ordinary and Extraordinary Discipline: Mutual Accountability in the Reformed Tradition by Charles Wiley
Wiley addresses mutual accountability; why discipline?, ordinary discipline, reconciliation, worship at the heart, grace in the mundane, we are all implicated, moving forward.  p. 10