– Ted A. Smith

This booklet is an offering to the church in a season of discernment. It comes from 26 scholars who care deeply about the church. Twenty-four of us are members of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and most of us are ordained. We serve at 19 different academic institutions, including eight seminaries affiliated with the denomination. We write because we love the church and long to help it live more faithfully as the body of Christ.

This booklet grows out of a realization – a confession – that many of our debates about sexuality and ordination have grown thin, stale and mean. We need something more than slightly better answers to the questions we already have. We need questions that help us find better ways of listening together for the Word of God. We need answers that lead us not just on to victory for one side or another, but back more deeply into the heart of the Gospel. And we need to find ways of praying, thinking, writing, talking, and listening together that are themselves a sign of that Gospel.

The short essays in this booklet do not pretend to answer those needs completely. But they represent a good-faith attempt to deepen the church’s discernment of the work and will of God. They begin with the assumption that discernment will require questions and answers that are thoroughly theological, widely accessible, intentionally diverse, and open to further conversation.

These essays seek to take debates about ethics, policies and practices and restore them to a broader theological context. Christian discernment requires theological thinking, for it recognizes that lives of faith unfold in response to what God is already doing….

Read the whole essay.