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March 26, 2004


To the editor,

With all due respect, I must differ vigorously with Dr. Tenke. He may be learned in his field, but he apparently does not understand Presbyterian polity and policy.

The Authoritative Interpretation is certainly not like either the “Changing Families” (I believe he meant “Families in Transition”) draft report, which was never passed by General Assembly but was sent back to the shop for repairs, or the 1991 Sexuality Report, which was as thoroughly disgraced as it was soundly defeated by General Assembly, as well it should have been.

The Authoritative Interpretation was approved by the UPCUSA General Assembly in 1978 and the PCUS General Assembly in 1979 and reaffirmed by the PCUSA General Assembly in 1993, if I have my dates correct. It has since then handily survived attempts to remove it. Over and over again, Presbyterians as a whole have AFFIRMED it as what we believe, Dr. Tenke’s personal opinions notwithstanding. It could hardly be more official or established, or better grounded in Scripture and Confessions!

I was rereading the final six pages of the Authoritative Interpretation again yesterday (I really have to get a life!) – the policy provisions – and was struck again by how biblically faithful, pastorally sensitive, and deeply dedicated to God’s glory the Authoritative Interpretation is. It reflects the belief Christians always and everywhere have held. It meets head-on the arguments people still try to raise. People should reread it. It’s a gem!

And when we get right down to it, we really ought not regard ourselves as brighter than God these days, with a better idea than the one he gave us in Scripture, and more smug in our human hubris or the latest slant from secular psychologists. The Authoritative Interpretation speaks God’s will and biblical theology with a surprisingly modern accent, very much in harmony with G-6.0106b, which flowed directly from it.

Remove the Authoritative Interpretation? Uh, no Tenke.

Rev. Jim Berkley
Presbyterians for Renewal
Bellevue, Washington

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