Response to “Creative Conversations Group”
This letter is addressed to the Moderator yet, like the one signed by 232 Ministers and Elders, it does not specifically state what the signatories wish the Moderator to do.
The origins of this group “Creative Conversations” is unknown, other than “Our Group, made up of members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland”. Was his group open to all, or was it narrow and restrictive to those whom the “Creative Conversation Group” found acceptable, or agreed with their agenda? Who are these ‘members’ of PCI? Why are their names not appended to this letter?
How many of the 602 signatures are Ministers and Elders of PCI? How can we be sure that these alleged 602 members are genuine members of the PCI? As in the case of the proposed North Antrim by-election 10% of the electorate must sign verified notices. Most of these 602 names are anonymous, except for the six describing themselves as “Creative Conversation Committee”. All the names should be published along with the letter in order to be verified.
There was an ‘informed debate’ which took place in Westminster between the years 1643 -1652. This debate concluded with the Westminster Confession of Faith which all Ministers and elders of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland must sign as “a confession of my faith”. The scriptures have not changed – God has not changed His mind – the scriptures are clear, as summarised in the Confession ‘marriage is between one man and one woman’.
There was a ‘respectful debate’ at the General Assembly, the conclusion of which was that the Doctrine Committee Report was accepted ‘on the nod’. Only twelve members of assembly dissented, as is their right. This however does not absolve those dissenters from their responsibility “loyally to implement the decision so long as it stands unaltered.” (Code 104 (3))
The most important omission in this letter is that there is no clear distinction between POLICY and DOCTRINE. This letter, like the previous one, does not state whether the object of the signatories is to change the policy of the PCI, in relation to the decision not to continue the ceremonial relations with the Church of Scotland, or to change the doctrine of the PCI in relation to ‘same sex marriage’.
Alarmingly this letter states: “We do not believe that such discourse is “injurious to the purity or peace of the Church”. This is not how it is seen in the public square, because this is not the way we do things in PCI. The Church has rightly stated: “The annual General Assembly and the other structures of the church provide significant dramatic accountability where genuine dialogue can take place, rather than through the pages of newspapers.”