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David Gambrell

Isn't there a chicken and egg dilemma here? Seems to me the relationship between the Reformed / Presbyterian tradition and American culture is a much more difficult (and interesting!) question, because the streams of influence flow in both directions. Freedom of conscience, polity and political principles, that famous work ethic ...

I do think that contemporary (North) American notions of power, status, leadership, and individualism have had deleterious effects on the ways in which our orders of ministry and system of governance were intended to operate.

Think about corporations. Etymologically that's supposed to have something to do with a body, organically interconnected, with all the parts depending on one another to survive and thrive. But they often function more like machines, with interchangeable (and disposable) parts. And this approach to institutional structure has come to influence the ways in which we think about the church, the body of Christ.

Charles Wiley


I think you're right. The experience of Presbyterians in the U.S. is of the insider, the shaper, the establishment. While Jews have been in the U.S. from almost the beginning, and have experienced relative freedom of religion, they were never in the same position. The Orthodox came much later (at least in numbers). That is why the current disestablishment of the church is so difficult for Presbyterians--we're at a bit of a loss to be moving toward the margin.

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