Summer/Fall 2002
Volume 7 Number 1
 

 

 

 

 

 


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Moderatorial Visit

When 2001 Presbyterian Church USA moderator Jack Rogers visited Princeton Seminary in April as his moderatorial year approached its end, he preached in Miller Chapel about the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15:1–25, calling it the “first General Assembly.”

Presbyterian Church USA logoThe passage, according to Rogers, recounts the debate about Jews and Gentiles, about law and grace. The Pharisees thought of Christianity as a sect of Judaism wherein Jewish law must be strictly followed; those who followed Peter and Paul thought of it as a new religion, open, by grace, to Gentiles—those with no experience of the Jewish tradition.

The Jewish Christians, Rogers posited, feared that if the Christian faith were open to the whole world, they would become a small minority, “not unlike white American Christians,” he said. Today most Christians in the world live in the southern hemisphere, and by 2050 there will be no ethnic majority in the United States.

“Our choice is to retreat into our own enclave,” Rogers told the students, “or to keep our promises to include more racial ethnic congregations in our denomination and to welcome people of other cultures and customs. It may be we who become the ethnic minority.”

As the Council of Jerusalem reached an answer in compromise (“the Gentiles did not have to be Jewish or follow Jewish law, but they had to show sensitivity to Jewish Christians and not do things that offended them,” said Rogers), so he believes the Presbyterian Church has done throughout its history and must do today. “Compromise, after all,” he said, “means mutual promise.”


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