We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Long Past Tipping Point

A Presbyterian commentator, writing about the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which met earlier this month, referred to it (here) as a "tipping point."  His point is that the growing departure of the conservative wing of the denomination will leave the denomination impoverished and lacking in balance.  Perhaps, he is correct—to a degree.  In actual fact, however, the old United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church U.S. passed the real mainline Presbyterian tipping point back in the 1960s, largely ignorant at the time that they had done so.  The 1960s were a time of significant cultural change, and the churches did not change.  They increasingly lost their privileged place in American culture, but they behaved as if they were still privileged.

Today, we are more and more a remnant people, and the ongoing battle over homosexuality is but a fight over the remnants.  Our evangelical brothers and sisters can go off to their own enclaves, but all they accomplish by doing so is to speed the decline of the remnant.  They become just another piece of the remnant, leaving it still more shredded and weaker.  Their departure changes nothing worth changing one way or the other.  It is way too late then to be talking about "tipping points" and will remain so until such time as the mainline reaches a point of resurgence that tips it upward, a time that seems still far off and may never come.

For us, the concept of a "tipping point" is a set of historical events and developments that we see through the rearview mirror rather than a contemporary experience.  Until we accept that fact and learn to adapt to changing times, it will remain so.  Our prayer should be for and the goal we work for must be another tipping point, one that carries us upward in the Spirit.  Amen.