Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Of Disputable Matters

As we are wrapping up our study of the book of Romans in BSD, we came this week to chapter 14. In this chapter Paul admonishes Christians to accept one who is "weak in faith" but NOT for the purpose of :

"passing judgment on his opinions" (New American Standard)
"disputes over opinions" (NRV)
"passing judgment on disputable matters" (NIV)
"having doubtful disputations" (King James)
Romans 14:1

This chapter really spoke to me because over the weekend I read the controversial Middle East Report that is coming before the General Assembly this summer. Without going into a point-by-point analysis of why I believe the report is seriously flawed and should not be approved, I will just say that if ever there were "disputable matters" that are not essentials of the faith then opinions on issues of domestic and foreign political policy fit squarely within Paul's definition.

Paul's admonishment that Christians should "make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification" (v. 19) within the community of believers is again being ignored by the denomination which seems intent on avoiding dealing with its own serious internal problems by engaging in disputes over matters of opinion. In the process more internal division and less unity among its members is created. And that is a major reason for the serious decline in the PCUSA.


stinuksuk said...

As always, right on, QG!

Recovering Baptist said...

I agree with you Jody, we need to stick to essentials and stop getting in to divisive issues. Although we are called to make the world a better place and be concerned with justice I think it would be better if we concentrated on areas where we can make a difference. We can't change the policies of other countries but we can see to it that our policies are just and upright and we cn make a difference here. :-)

Mac said...

Because the "serious internal problems" will require the PC(USA) to take a stand over essentials, denominational leadership will do anything it can to avoid them and will, instead, shift the focus to things that are non-essential.

Denise said...

I share your sense that the denomination has profound and crippling internal realities to deal with and we need to be doing that. I am not at all familiar with the report your are referencing (probably should be though!). I am wary, though, of the sharp and clear division you assert between "essentials of faith" and the material, political, and societal realities of our lives together. It seems that the life and witness of Jesus does not allow for those easy, clear distinctions.

David said...

We have been sending missionaries to this area of the world for over a century and a half. Long be before the UN decided to give the chunk of geography to the Jewish people following Hitlers unspeakable acts on them. Are we supposed to walk away from the Palestinian Christians who have been our friends all these years. Tell me where the Book of Confessions of Scripture tells us that we should give uncritical support to thew nation state called Israel?