Monday, November 05, 2007

Continuing My Walk

For the third installment of my walk of discernment I would like to take a look at the official statements made by the PC(USA) on the matter of Abortion

The Denominations current stance on the practice of Abortion is muddy and I believe purposefully vague. At various General Assemblies[1] the GA voted and passed resolutions that include the following statements about the denominations position on Abortion:

The considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision.[2]

Humans are empowered by the spirit prayerfully to make significant moral choices, including the choice to continue or end a pregnancy. Human choices should not be made in a moral vacuum, but must be based on Scripture, faith, and Christian ethics.[3]

Some of us would focus on the biblical material that emphasizes human decision-making. Real decision-making[4] is one of the gifts of God to us as human beings. It is part of being created in the image of God. God's own dominion over all of creation does not deny this intention of the Creator: that human beings must make real decisions that have real consequences for their lives and for the world…[5]

Now these statements in and of themselves are in opposition to lots of presuppositions in Reformed theology. The fourth citation being the greatest departure from any semblance of the Doctrines that used to constitute the Reformed faith within the PC(USA). However ultimately what truly brings me to question these statements (and as one questioning his remaining a member with the PC(USA)) is that they are ultimately human-centered, that is they are always speaking as if God is 1) outside the decision-making process of the individual, and 2) that God cannot possibly understand the difficult decisions that abortion entails. The second quotation I have chosen to highlight disturbs me the most. I have spoken previously of my concern that Scripture is now last in the Presbyterian's "Wesleyan Quadlateral" (with the first place going to experience, then reason, tradition, and lastly "s"cripture). While it may seem silly to some to quibble with the separation of faith and Christian ethics from Scripture in the wording it signals a much deeper problem and that is the continued denial of an active God within the human life that has dictated through his Word the "ethic" we as followers of Jesus Christ should follow. That somehow we have gone from the Amazing Grace of the reformation where Christ is the dominant mover to a simple common Grace where humanity has been given the ultimate word, not Christ, on the moral decisions of ending human life prematurely and without cause.

[1] As an aside it is of the utmost arrogance that the PC (USA) tries to claim that its 2006 General Assembly was its “217th”. It is ludicrous for the denomination to claim heritage back to the 18th century when it was actually founded by the joining of two separate denominations in 1983.

[2] Minutes of the 204th General Assembly (1992), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), pg. 367-368, 372-374

[3] Minutes of the 217th General Assembly (2006), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), pg. 905

[4] The major fault behind the hermeneutic used in the last quote will be critiqued in a separate post

[5] Sections "I. D. 6. Positions A & B" of the Report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion to the 1992 General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), pg. 9-10

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