The first decisions were made today as the plenary GA voted on the theological paper, "The Trinity: God's Love Overflowing." The paper created no small controversy.
It suggested “naming” God in creative ways, such as,
• Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-Giving Womb
• Speaker, Word and Breath
• Overflowing Font, Living Water and Flowing River
• Rainbow, Ark and Dove
• Sun, Light and Burning Ray
• Lover, Beloved and Love
The paper made the point that Scripture clearly states baptisms must be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because Jesus was so specific. Beyond that, I think, the writers (for whatever reason) felt it would be good to be creative with how we describe God.
One commissioner reminded the assembly that God names God, not us, and that we cannot simply tie any three terms together—even if they are Biblical—and say that we are naming God. I agree.
I am not particularly happy (or alarmed) that this paper passed. To me, it is poor theology and potentially confusing. Other conservatives, particularly those from the Coalition, are claiming a victory in that the report was technically “received,” and not “adopted.”
In the real-world life of the church, this is a distinction without a difference. I was a commissioner in 1991, and served on the human sexuality committee. We considered the controversial task force report “Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice,” which came to be known as the “justice/love” paper. It recommended many things that the church has historically taught against. The report was overwhelmingly turned down. But—if you go onto the PCUSA official website, you can still find that paper as a recommended resource for teaching sexuality! At least, in the last few months, there has been a disclaimer printed with it saying that it was turned down by the GA.
This current theological paper, flawed as it is, will be a teaching resource for our denomination from now on. This is not an auspicious beginning to the plenary meeting.