Monday, November 27, 2006

Thinking Unpopular Thoughts – Per Capita

Per capita is one of those things that Presbyterians love to hate. Let’s face it, it cost $$$ for the various governing bodies to operate. This week I am going to lay out my thoughts on why Evergreen should withhold its General Assembly per capita and give that amount to Presbyterian missions (in fact, I will recommend that we give that amount plus some additional dollars to Presbyterian missions.

Per capita is optional: PJC after PJC after PJC have ruled that sessions have control over how to spend the dollars they receive and that they cannot be forced to pay per capita. A church does not have to pay per capita! Period! End of discussion! Some will argue that a church has a moral obligation to pay per capita. After all, doesn’t the local church benefit from the various governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church? Those who make this argument are actually saying the very same thing that I am saying. I believe that we should turn in per capita dollars if the local church benefits from the higher governing bodies. Likewise, if the denomination or local church is harmed by the actions of a governing body I believe that there is no obligation to give per capita dollars to that governing body. It is my contention that this past General Assembly and the actions (or lack there of) of the GA Stated Clerk have seriously harmed the PCUSA and our local churches.

The Trinity Report: The General Assembly has seriously harmed the denomination by “receiving” the Trinity report. The Trinity is composed of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Period. I know that the progressive side of the denomination does not like this imagery. Are there horrible earthly fathers? Absolutely. However, we do not need to throw out the term “Father” because some people didn’t have a good earthy father. As a church we should strive to stay as close to scripture as possible. Some may argue that the General Assembly didn’t adopt the report. That’s true. However, by receiving the report churches are allowed to use the imagery of the report in worship (except for baptism) and the General Assembly agencies are to begin developing studies materials based on the report! We must remember that the Jews so revered the name of God that they wouldn’t even say it out loud. The PCUSA has so little regard for the name of God that we now play fast and loose with it and change it to what ever we want. Receiving the Trinity report has seriously harmed the PCUSA and our local churches.


At 9:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Trinity report that the GA "received" does nothing to throw out biblical language and imagery of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It lifts up other triads that might be used, drawn from Scripture and the church's tradition. The reactionary response of many to the report is troubling, because it suggests that either 1) they're not reading the report, but taking other people's word for it, or 2)they're that intractable when it comes to the concerns of their brothers and sisters in the larger church.
Either way, justifing the witholding of per capita on the basis of a shabby reading of a non-binding theology paper is weak.


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