Monday, June 19, 2006

Watching General Assembly

Thanks to the technological miracle of webcasting (, I was just able to watch as the General Assembly of the PC(USA) approved the new paper on the Trinity which has caused some controversy this year. Andrew Purves, a professor here at PTS suggested that the passage of this paper could be more serious in its inherent meaning than the PUP report because of its implications for how we address and name God. The paper only affects worship and study resources produced by the Office of Theology and Worship, however, so it's not a doctrinal or confessional statement.

Good or bad? Meh. Here are some thoughts I wrote about it after reading it this spring: "This paper sounds rooted in traditional non-heretical understandings of the Trinity, but I’m left with a few points of discomfort. Line 631 – Can the Holy Spirit be analogized as a womb when the Spirit’s function is so much greater than this? While “Mother, Child, Womb” at least retain the personal aspects of God, why neuter Son to Child? Also, in the public eye, this would risk confusion, even though unintended, with Mary as Jesus’ mother, and necessary caution should be taken to avoid suggesting that we are worshipping Mary. 777-778: the idea that in proclamation of the Word of God, God is Speaker, Word, and Breath is very interesting, but is a triad like other analogies, useful for understanding, but not for a name. 885- The Rainbow, Ark, Dove triad is cutesy to the point of being laughable, devoid of personal meaning, and perhaps in danger of being perceived by the general public as childish and/or idolatry. 937 – Giver, Gift, Giving – this triad forgets that in the NT the Spirit is our “deposit” of salvation, a gift of sorts as well. Perhaps “Purchaser, Ransom, Deposit” would convey that. 938- Truth, Goodness, Beauty – this triad confuses the attributes of God that are common to all persons of the Trinity." I do think the metaphors suggested might be useful in understanding the Trinity, especially Speaker, Word, Breath, but it is not a name for God. Enough fuss has been made about the paper, though, that most people will understand the distinction between names and metaphors. So, while I'm not thrilled, I'm not upset that it passed - worse things can happen.

Watching GA has also been fascinating as I've watched online as Doodle Harris (our TSAD) and Robert Gagnon (one of our professors) have asked questions or spoken in the plenary. Tomorrow should be interesting - especially if Gagnon speaks on the PUP report and G.60106b. Anybody have predictions?

I've also found several other blogs from commissioners, GAC people, and advisory delegates that have been fun to read as the assembly continues. Here are some of the best: , , , and .

Gracious Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, please work in and through the actions of the General Assembly this week. Bless the commissioners with diligence, attentiveness, and hearts in tune with your will. Grant us all the ability to hear You speaking into the important decisions at this time. Amen.


Ariel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ariel said...

Thanks for the comment and the link! I'm flattered that you put me up as "one of the best"... just some notes from the work of the day. I hope to have some summary thoughts in there eventually, but, as I'm sure Doodle tells you, the schedule is a bit grueling.

Thank you for your prayers - they are appreciated and felt. And to everyone else... thank you as well. God is surely in this place... and we are being held in God's capable hands while we seek to do the work to which we have been called.