Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Plea for Clarity in Communication

Our worship bulletin this morning told us that the submission of the Interchurch Bioethics Council is "in line with" recent discussions in the Methodist Faith and Order Committee. Really?

The ICBC has come down firmly against any change in the law. It is uncompromising and conservative in the extreme. Certainly, it acknowledges that "not all" members of the three denominations would agree with their position. But it states this qualification in a clumsy way that implies that most of them, in fact, would agree. This submission has never been presented to a Methodist District Synod, nor to the Methodist Conference for consideration and approval.  It can only represent the mind of its small membership.

On the other hand, the Faith and Order Committee has produced a report that in some 3000 words deals comprehensively with the issues on both sides of the debate. With a supplement of creative questions it invites people to get into discussion on the issues. It is an excellent example of the kind of thorough thinking that is needed in this debate. It does not even hint that there is a favoured Methodist position one side or the other.

To imply that the F&O report is in sympathy with the hard line taken by the ICBC is most unfortunate (I nearly said outrageous). This unhappy affair underlines the need to explore all the issues, to listen to each other, to be careful with the words we use. And, at the end of the process, to acknowledge that we will have to find some kind of consensus...

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