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September 19, 2007: Digging Deeper into the FoG

Today, more on the proposed overhaul of the Form of Government, looking again at the beginning framework.

The Preliminary Principles (Chapters 1 - 4 in the current Form of Government) are re-titled in the new version, "Foundations of Presbyterian Polity." Aside from what I noticed yesterday, the proposed revision mostly is a restructuring and thinning out of some of the proclaiming language.

Yesterday's comments were a vote-changer for me. Today's are more akin to, "I would not have done things this way..."

Restructuring: The Foundations begin with a section entitled, "God's Activity. The Church bears witness to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The current Book of Order begins with "All power in heaven and earth is given to Jesus Christ by Almighty God, ...".

The issue for me is whether the rearranging is better. It is a different approach and, in my opinion, is not a better one. It is not bad; I just do not think it is as good -- and it is not as good for more of a reason than "we've always done it the other way."

In a Form of Government, the purpose is to define authority and explain how it is exercised. The proposed revision seems to start with a more broadly confessional statement -- ironically redundant to the Book of Confessions when the purpose of the exercise is to make simpler.

And, I guess, that's the point. The draft does not seem to be focused on the point of the Form of Government.

Thinning or Shaving? Sometimes thinning things out is less like a diet and more like an abrasive shave. For example, the Book of Order currently has:

All power in heaven and earth is given to Jesus Christ by Almighty God, who raised Christ from the dead and set him above all rule and authority, all power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.a God has put all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and has made Christ Head of the Church, which is his body.

The proposed revision has:

God has given to Jesus Christ all authority in heaven and on earth, not only in this age but also in the age to come. God has put all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and has made Christ Head of the Church, which is his body.

I'm not a fan.

Yes, space is saved. Yes, it is only a Form of Government.

However.

It also is named "Foundations of Presbyterian Polity." The purpose of the document is to identify the extent and expression of authority. It seems to me -- again, more of a personal preference than a make-or-break criticism -- that the current language is better. Given that a substantial portion of the Preliminary Principles have been maintained in-tact, is ink so expensive that we need to contract this language that beautifully portrays the universal and eternal scope of Christ's authority?

Tomorrow: working into the details of the rest.