Nary An Unpublished Thought







June 23, 2008: Defending the Moderator

Regarding the headline of Jack Adam's piece in the Layman, "Is risk-taker moderator a risk for denomination?"

One of my favorite movie moments is in Apollo 13. Ground Control in Houston is preparing for re-entry, and a public relations person is trying to get an answer to tell the President about the chances. They review the problems and the things that have been improvised to get the astronauts home. One of the executives says in a hushed voice, "This could be the biggest disaster in NASA history." Overhearing, the Flight Director interrupts and says, "Sir, with all due respect, I believe this is going to be our finest hour."

There are two ways of looking at risk. One is to avoid it at all costs. That keeps us in the status quo, which will keep us headed in the same direction. The other is to understand the risk and embrace the opportunity.

The 218th General Assembly (2008) elected Bruce Reyes-Chow to be its moderator. Yes, it is a risk for the denomination; but being the church involves risk. Being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth involves risk. The Book of Order calls the church to risk, "The Church is called to present the claims of Jesus Christ, leading persons to repentance, acceptance of him as Savior and Lord, and new life as his disciples." (G-3.0300b) "The Church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ." (G-3.0400).

Look, I do not agree with the Moderator regarding ordination standards. I do not think we can go forward simply agreeing to disagree. However, I am in complete agreement with him regarding the need to reach people for Jesus, for the need for transparency, that we need to be held together by more than property.

I do not know Bruce well. I have been a frequent visitor to his blog. His assigned seat was right in front of me in the plenary hall and we had only a few moments to laugh and commiserate about PC-Biz (he was more creative: he solved the problem for himself by getting elected). I am going to take him at his word that he is "excruciatingly fair." He does embody a younger generation's approach to ministry. It will be uncomfortable and -- I am sure -- he will do things that will drive me crazy. Then again, so do most of my friends -- just as this post is likely to drive them crazy.

As a commissioner to the 218th General Assembly, I am committed to work with Bruce, to pray for him, and to support him to the best of my ability. Sometimes that support will come in the guise of loyal opposition. Supporting the Moderator does not have to involve compromising any of my convictions.

Theology is important. The Lordship of Christ and the sovereignty of God are real. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and we need to take heed. But we also remember that this is God's church: not mine, not Bruce's, not ours. We can go through a whole list of problems and lament our imminent demise -- or -- we could pray, with all due respect, that this would be our finest hour.