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Theological Help for PNCs


The Priority of Authority: Holy Scripture and Human Sexuality, by Robert P. Mills.  Mills is a PCUSA pastor and is currently teaching at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.  

Author Robert Mills begins his article by quoting the common mantra of liberals explaining why there has been such division in the church over sexuality, “We all agree on the authority of Scripture.  We just disagree about interpretation.”    Mills then exposes the fallacy of this mantra saying, “It is the first half of their statement, ‘We all agree on the authority of Scripture,” that is so obviously absurd.  For the chasm dividing evangelicals and liberals in their understanding of the authority of Scripture is, if anything, greater than that separating their interpretation of specific passages.”

Mills explains the church’s historic meaning of revelation and its relationship to Scripture,   “Theologians use the term ‘revelation’ to describe God’s communication of divine truth to his human creation.  A good, short definition of revelation is ‘the significant self-disclosure of God to man.’”

Enlightenment thinkers attacked the church’s doctrine of revelation because they rejected “supernatural revelation.”  Mills writes, “Enlightenment philosophy is the source and substance of liberal theology.  Rejecting as “unenlightened’ the very possibility of divine revelation, mainline liberals have followed Enlightenment philosophers in degrading the Bible from God’s self-revelation to a mere collection of human reflections on the religious experiences of certain groups of individuals. For such liberals, the Bible is not, nor does it contain, the Word of God.  Therefore, it has no more authority than a novel or a magazine article.”

Historically, orthodox Christians sought to understand the original author’s meaning of the text becuase the text is the revelation of God,  and then they applied that meaning to their situation.  Liberals reject the text’s authority given by the Author.  Instead, for liberals, the reader’s meaning, not the original author’s meaning, is authoritative.  Whatever insight the reader gleans is authoritative for him/her, regardless of whether it agrees with what the text says.  The shift is from the meaning of the text as a revelation of God given through human authors, to the reader’s meaning of the text even if that meaning is in direct opposition to the words of the text.  The reader’s meaning is now authoritative.

Mills explains the result of this erroneous liberal thinking, “I once heard an Old Testament professor acknowledge that there is no question that the plain meaning of the Old Testament Hebrew is that homosexual behavior is sinful in God’s eyes.  However he concluded, ‘The Bible is simply wrong at that point.’”  Nov/Dec 2011 Theology Matters p. 1

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.  Sep/Oct 2003 Theology Matters  p. 1

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.  May/Jun 2001 Theology Matters p. 1

A Theological Guide for Pastoral Nominating Committees by William Lewis, PCUSA pastor.
This is an important tool to help guide PNCs as they seek a new pastor.  Lewis helps PNCs understand postmodernism, the definition of terms and what is necessary to find the right match theologically.  Lewis examines Liberal theology and Evangelical theology.  he examines the interview process and how to ask the right questions and then how to interpret the answers the PNC receives.  He suggests some "red flag" answers.  Jan/Feb 1999 Theology Matters p. 1