GENERAL SECRETARY of the National Assembly Rev Terence Corkin points out that in the last few years there has been much discussion about the way in which the Uniting Church determines the will of God on important matters and, in particular, the place that the Bible is given in the life of the Uniting Church.
Mr Corkin said the task of theological reflection is the responsibility of all Christ’s people.
He said this commitment to an informed faith was evident in the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches that came into the Uniting Church.
“Each of these traditions relied upon more than a bald reading of the scriptures when it came to ‘faithful thinking’.
“For example the four-fold schema of John Wesley, scripture, tradition, experience and reason, was well established.”
To help guide the church the National Working Group on Doctrine has prepared a paper for the 11th Assembly that outlines the Uniting Church way of engaging in “faithful thinking”.
Guidance for the Church’s Faithful Thinking is a helpful statement of a Uniting Church approach to theological reflection.
This document lists a number of considerations which inform the church when it considers contentious issues.
These include the person of Jesus Christ, faithful use of scripture, other sources from the church’s heritage, the catholicity of the church, and taking time to listen to each other.
The statement says that as a church we deal with disputes differently from other organisations. It says we do that by engaging together in responsible, prayerful, thoughtful theological reflection and sometimes rigorous debate.
“We are one not because we all agree on every point of theology, nor because we all worship the same way, or witness and serve in the same way.”