This line sticks out to me:
How we got to this place is less important than how to move forward.
It sticks out to me because I think it misses one of the fundamental facets of change and that is asking the question, “Why are we here?”
A friend told me years ago, “Life is an accumulation of choices.”
And so it is.
We are where we are because of the choices we have made. The PC(USA) is where they are at (as described in the letter, which shows just the tip of the iceberg) because of the choices they have made.
To ignore that history, to refuse to ask how we got here, is to risk charting a course that repeats it.
If we want to be somewhere else, or go somewhere else, we have to make different choices. But until we study the choices we have made, we have no idea which ones to change because we don’t know the choices that got us here.
I liken this dilemma to current discussions about “how to move forward” in fundamentalism.
There are some, it seems, who want to ignore how we got here. They just assume it is right that we are here (wherever “here” is). And so they insist that everyone be “here” and if you are somewhere else it is because you are compromising, or at least in danger of compromise. They insist that any change is evidence of the jettisoning of Scripture. They are unwilling to accept that they may be the ones who have wrongly applied Scripture to the present day. They also fail to recognize that the very people they cite as authorities and patterns did not act this way.
There are others who also want to ignore how we got here. They just assume it is wrong that we are here (wherever “here” is). And so they insist that you must change, that if you continue to be “here” you are legalistic, uninterested in unity (whatever that is), and unwilling to obey God.
For some, their history is too short because it only starts 30-40 years ago. For some, their history is too short because it only starts 3-4 years ago.
I believe the way forward has to include a history that started 2000 years ago, and includes the events of the last century where scriptural doctrine came under attack. We have to understand the battles that were fought then against the present day situation now.
We have to return to the authority of Scripture rather than the authority of tradition.
I am reminded of the line by Brother G. I. Barber in his sermon on Hairology: “As fundamentalists, we know this is right because this is the way we have always done it.”
When you hear him say it, it is hilarious.
When you see people practice it, it is heartbreaking.
I wrote recently of failure on the part of some to take seriously the need to study the Scripture. They return only to their own recent history and in so doing, affirm that “How we got here is less important.”
I think we need a return to the authority of Scripture in practice, not just in word.