27 May 2009

Presbyterianism and the Church of Scotland and....

The recent Church of Scotland decision has certainly created much clamour in the blogosphere. I think Carl Trueman nailed it in his post here. I know, I know, someone out there is saying you always take CT's side and besides, what do you know as an outsider. Yes, I put my hand up to both accusations. I am not inclined to waste time with non excepted procedures, i.e., the petition. But I won't be the first person either, though, to throw stones at those who stay in the CoS and fight. (Go get 'em.) Nevertheless, Trueman has made a point I believe. He concludes his post this way:

I was asked by one C of S person, angry about my criticism of the petition, what I would suggest as the way forward. Well, just for starters, before launching any public campaign, I would have looked at the history of those churches and institutions that have turned themselves around to see what actually works as opposed to what merely seems like a good idea at the time — say, the Missouri Synod Lutherans, the Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Seminary, and even my own small place, Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia). The changes in those places had a number of things in common: the reformers organized and prepared for every eventuality, putting into place safety nets and multiple `Plan Bs’, they identified the places where influence could be wielded, mastered procedure, fought like the blazes when they had to, stood strong and immovable in the face of violent opposition, and outmanoeuvred their opponents by continual attention to meeting agendas, points of order, procedural matters, and long-term coordinated strategy. They did not waste time and energy on irrelevant sideshows like rhetorical petitions that merely provided the material for public relations disasters. And guess what? In each case it actually worked. In fact, this way of approach sounds very like the strategy which frankly outflanked and then crushed the ill-prepared evangelical assault at last week’s C of S GA. It would seem that angry but sincere petitioners generally lose, while sincere but canny parliamentarians generally win. The C of S evangelicals need new leadership that understands Presbyterian polity, the importance of procedure and, crucially, how institutions work and can therefore be changed.

Be sure to read the entire post here and scroll down to read some of the interesting comments on both sides of the argument.

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