April 17, 2004
There has been a bit of confusion about what I said or intended to say in my recent letters (March 25, March 29 and April 9). In order to clarify any misconceptions, let me concisely indicate the following:
1) G-6.0106B is sufficient to establish our ordination standards without the Authoritative Interpretations.
2) The existence of the AIs exacerbates the discord within our membership by emphasizing our points of major disagreement when it is no longer necessary or useful to belabor them.
3) My own initial reaction to the removal of the AIs was precisely the one indicated by the title and content of the Berkley and Dooling piece, i.e., that the removal of the AIs would actually HARM sexual minorities in the PC(USA). The premise SOUNDS correct to those who understand the nuances of these documents. Because of our concerns, these points were considered and discussed at length before this overture was approved by the Presbytery of Long Island.
4) If the purpose of the Berkley and Dooling piece was to inform those potential GA delegates who are concerned about the spiritual nurture of sexual minorities by the PC(USA) that the "positive policy declarations" would be eliminated, the title and thesis are either incorrect or misleading. The "grandparent" provision has not been sufficient to accomplish its intended purpose (e.g., Janie Spahr). The AIs are not necessary for us to fight against hate crimes. The "good stuff" has also been restated as recently as 2002 by the 214th GA.
5) I also wanted to remind the same audience to use their OWN discretion regarding their sources of information. Presbyterians for Renewal and Presbyterian Coalition websites would NOT be my first choice for information intended to protect sexual minorities.
I did not intend to detract from the historic value of the Authoritative
Interpretations, nor to any scholarly work that these authors or others might
be involved in. As a multigenerational Presbyterian from an old congregation,
I have nothing but respect for the work of scholars, and share with them
great pride in the history and polity of our unique denomination.
Having cleared that up, I'd like to directly address Rev. Berkley's response to my letters on April 10. As Rev. Berkley is well aware, a "letter" format is less rigorous than other publication formats. His own stylistic choices on this site reflect this awareness. My mention of the review process for a scientific paper and my "suggested revision" was just a response in kind, e.g., his poking fun at my name, my profession, and possibly the fact that I'm an elder, not a minister. It was only intended to be a humorous (if "inside") indication that sometimes even what will eventually be a GOOD paper by a GOOD author misses the mark. My noting that the existing title and thesis of their articles are in error is neither subversive nor pejorative. Likewise, my suggestion that one should look somewhere other than a Presbyterians for Renewal or a Presbyterian Coalition site if they are concerned about the well-being of sexual minorities is simply common sense!
It seems that Rev. Berkley may have taken a number of my comments personally. My letters were not in any way an ad hominem attack. I don't know either author personally, and do not have any reason to personally accuse them of anything or to generally discredit them. I actually have nothing but respect and compassion for Rev. Berkley's dedicated efforts over many years, despite what I perceive to be an unnecessarily harsh and slanted worldview. I do, however, find it unfortunate that Rev. Berkley appreciates his relationship to his brothers and sisters in faith according to phrases like: "The hard left knows... If they can do it through subterfuge... it is the moderates ... who could be most easily taken in by the big lie..."
I honestly apologize if Rev. Berkley was personally offended by my comments or critique. I will also freely admit that my comments might have been completely out of line if the papers were only intended as an "in-house" dialog for members of Presbyterians for Renewal or the Presbyterian Coalition. I only replied to them because I saw the links on presbyweb.
As anyone fluent in Presbyterian history knows, it's impossible to eliminate all discord. Some would even go as far as to insist that discord is actually fundamental to American Presbyterianism. The AIs are ONLY responsible for prolonging ONE source of continued discord. It was not possible to eliminate this particular source of discord until G-6.0106B. Now there is no sound reason NOT to.
I'd like to close in concordance with Rev. Berkley, who said, "...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."
Amen and Amen. They who have ears to hear, let them hear.
Let us all pray for the work of the Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity, so that our different, yet scripturally-based views of God's world may be reconciled.Yours in Christ,
Craig E. Tenke
elder, Center Moriches, NY
neuroscientist, NYS Psychiatric Institute, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York City
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