After a year of debate and division, a Presbyterian theologian explores what went wrong at last year's controversial Re-Imagining conference.
The furor aroused by last year's Re-Imagining conference exceeded in magnitude anything in memory of mainline Christianity. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which met in Wichita last June, received more overtures of protest over Re-Imagining than on any topic in the denomination's 200-plus-year history. Re-Imagining has awakened various mainline denominations to a state of crisis in theology, and with it the need, in the words of the Wichita general assembly, to assert that "theology matters."
Indeed it does. If Re-Imagining stimulates mainline Protestants and Catholics to recover a responsible theology, guided by Scripture and creed, then it may play an important role in arresting the theological and moral drift so characteristic of mainline Christianity. If not, such events will signal the demise of the churches that support them. But to learn fully the lesson of Re-Imagining we must first be clear as to what exactly went wrong at the conference-which can act as a case study of what goes wrong when we abandon Bible and creed as our moorings for guiding the work of the church.
More than 2,000 attendees from all 50 states and 28 countries gathered in Minneapolis from November 4-7, 1993, "as midwives of the new life that will be born from our tears and struggles," in the words of an opening speaker. Three years in the planning, Re-Imagining was a global theological colloquium of feminist voices. Global, too, were its concerns: violence and war, racism, sexism, poverty, oppression, and economic injustice. These and other sources of tears and terror were addressed ...1