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Letters
April 10, 2004

Editor:

I am amazed! Our Dr. Tenke, a research scientist by training, has written another letter that is all thesis and no data, all assertion without proof, all opinion with nothing to back it up. Surely he wouldn’t go about his scientific work with such basic disregard for data and analysis to prove his theses.

While I have done nothing less than meticulously show exactly what is wrong with his opinion and document numerous reasons why it is wrong, Dr. Tenke, in some inexplicable attempted reversal of reality, claims it is I who has said nothing new. Go figure.

Among the errors Dr. Tenke continues to commit are these:
1.
Egocentrism. He assumes that Part I and Part II of the “Unintended Consequences” papers ought to address points he made in his letters, and accuses us of ducking his assertions. The truth is that the papers were written prior to any Tenke comments. It’s not all about him.
2.
Faulty logic. He asserts that we supposedly did not address his concerns (written AFTER our papers), because the premise of our papers is in error. That stands for logic? Our papers were written for a general audience; my letters have been written about his letters, and they DID address his concerns.
3.
Assertions without proof. He contends the unintended consequences Dooling and I write about are false. Okay, now he needs to prove it. WHY are they false? His mere giving his unsupported opinion does nothing for the debate. (Well, unless he considers himself God. God can do that, and it’s just fine with me.)
4.
False statement. He says I close my letter with “an advertisement for the Presbyterian Coalition.” Is that careless reading on Tenke’s part? I closed by directing him to a fine set of articles for further discussion of the points at hand. Those with a true interest in understanding the issues will have that much more opportunity to read and interact with the ideas. The articles happen to be contained on the Presbyterian Coalition website. To dismiss a footnote-like reference as an advertisement for the Coalition is either sloppy or deceptive.
5.
Ad hominem attacks. Unable to refute our reasoning, Tenke attempts to discredit Dooling and me by personal attack. According to him, we’re fearful, we thrive on discord and apparently work to stir up that discord, our motivations are best described as political, and our work is analogous to a particularly poor scientific paper he remembers (again with no evidence; only the opinion).
6.
Laughable analysis: Tenke contends that the removal of the Authoritative Interpretation would ELIMINATE discord. Hello-oo! Which planet are we on? Either Tenke is incredibly nave, parochially sheltered among people of only one mindset, or brazen enough to try to pull a fast one on us. Could anybody who understands the situation in the PCUSA seriously believe that removing the foundational theological position paper explaining our biblical beliefs about homosexual practice would END our discord?
7.
False inference. No one has contended that Tenke is “any LESS concerned about the possibility of any ‘Unanticipated Consequences’ to sexual minorities.” In fact, I have assumed just the opposite: My letters and papers assume that everyone is very concerned about the consequences and would not care to be surprised by consequences they hadn’t envisioned. I don’t think Tenke is less concerned. I think he’s confused.

To be fair, I must agree with Dr. Tenke on three points
1.
He writes, “These pieces are apparently aimed at moderates who are looking for insights.” That is perceptive. There is an enormous piece of disinformation being floated around these days: that the Authoritative Interpretation is really nothing anymore, just a dated, meaningless, trifling, mostly forgotten, remnant of history with about as much usefulness as an appendix. The hard left knows how strategic it would be to remove the A.I. so they could then begin the full frontal attack against G-6.0106b. If they can do it through subterfuge, well, whatever works. The strong conservatives and evangelicals know how much fine biblical theology and policy is found in the Authoritative Interpretation, so they highly value it. Thus it is the moderates, plus those not up on the matter or neophytes to the subject, who could be most easily taken in by the big lie about the “disposability” of the A.I. People are subject to believing the mischaracterization of the A.I. being tossed about these days, despite the fact that General Assemblies and presbyteries at multiple times and in numerous ways have approved and defended the A.I. for 25 years. Bob Dooling and I wanted people to read about all of the consequences of removal that aren’t being trumpeted, and we wanted people to gasp. So, yes. We wanted to point out, especially to the moderates, the valuable baby they would be throwing out with the supposed bath water. I believe that is rather clear in the introduction to the papers. What isn’t clear is why it is that Dr. Tenke is struggling, albeit clumsily, to discredit both our motivation and our message.
2.
He writes, “I'd advise the target audience for the Berkley & Dooling articles to read them for what they are, and to look elsewhere for additional information.” While I believe Tenke means this to be pejorative, I’ll take it at face value. I, too, would love the target audience to read Dooling and me for what we are: Presbyterian pastors with a lot of background in these matters over many years, who are trying to place sound information in people’s hands for them to evaluate as they make important decisions. And I, too, would encourage people to look elsewhere for additional information. In fact, I already did that, when I pointed Tenke to the set of articles that goes into the subject in depth. But I’ll go farther: Look into voices on all sides of the matter, evaluate what they’re saying, separate what people merely contend (perhaps falsely or ignorantly) from what they can prove, decide what is biblical and God’s will, and then vote with knowledge and conviction on the matter.
3.
And finally, Tenke writes, “I do continue to be amused by Rev. Berkley's sharp wit.” Wow! He’s as perceptive as my mother about that! [big, broad grin]

Sincerely,

James D. Berkley
Issues Ministry Director
Presbyterians For Renewal
Bellevue, Washington

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