I love following electoral politics: the leadership races, debates, speeches, campaigns, the who’s who, the cabinet and its rising stars, the leaders in waiting, and the has-beens who are hanging on.
I’ve worked for candidates in municipal, provincial, and federal campaigns. I am a member of a national party. In my university days, I was president of the youth wing of my party’s provincial riding association. (It doesn’t matter which one.)
And it carried into my first career calling. My years as a reporter were devoted to municipal government; I was the one-man bureau and it was pretty much all I wrote about.
And now, strangely but not surprisingly, it’s followed me into ministry.
We live in a political age. It’s human nature, and it’s infused our denomination to the extent that every move we make – whether on the floor of General Assembly, in presbytery and its committees, even on sessions – seems calculated.
It’s what happens when the house is divided. And that’s where legislatures, parliaments, and the courts of the church are similar: there are two or more parties or factions competing for control and influence.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is no different than other denominations, which are fraught with liberal and conservative theologies in conflict. It’s a centuries-old tug of war. I don’t remember when the Presbyterian Church in Canada was predominantly conservative in theology, but it had to be have been at one time for our main subordinate standard, Living Faith, to have a relatively orthodox outlook. Check out Section 3, in which Jesus Christ is proclaimed as “truly God, truly human, Saviour, Lord” and the source of salvation. And of course, Section 8.2.3, the definition of marriage. Given the widespread lack of support for this one section, particularly so at 50 Wynford Drive these days, it’s clear that a new wave of thinking has emerged. It didn’t happen overnight.
And as our Church Doctrine Committee and our Life and Mission Agency and Committee consider the feedback to all those papers dispersed by the 2017 General Assembly, we see divided presbyteries battling over nominees to committees and positions on theological papers. In one Toronto-area court which voted in support of Option “B” (a wholesale change in our marriage standards), we saw the brave witness of presbyters registering their dissent.
So, is all this a good thing? Despite my love and fascination with politics, I’m not so sure. What I do know is that it’s part of human nature. Yes, God wants us to stand for what is right. And He wants godly women and men to bring their faith into our legislative assemblies and not be afraid to declare it. Like those dissenting elders, we must stand and be counted.
As the Church Doctrine Committee and the Life and Mission Agency and Committee pore over stacks of responses and prepare their reports to 2018 General Assembly, we pray for their eyes to be wide open to see the light of Christ. 1 John 1:5-10 tells us that God is light and if we claim to be followers of a triune God, then we will remain in the light, declare our innately sinful nature, seek forgiveness, and declare that we are steeped in sin.
May all of our eyes be opened.
Pray for each member of the Life and Mission Agency Committee (see page 33 of the 2017 Acts and Proceedings for members’ names) and the Church Doctrine Committee (page 31) as they prepare their reports to 2018 General Assembly. Pray for staff at the Life and Mission Agency and the General Assembly offices. Pray for our 2018 commissioners-in-waiting. Pray for God to open our eyes to which of the three candidates for General Assembly moderator would be best to lead us to submit to God’s will.
Pray for our eyes to be wide open to the enduring truth that Christ came to bring life to its fullest and that life is not to be lived in the flesh but in the Spirit, which is as pure as light and white as snow.