As usual, I am a "Johnny-come-lately" to the many observations regarding Margaret Aymer's response to the now infamous "Letter to the PCUSA." Many have written well about her main points and the various nuances of her rather remarkable response, so there is little need for me to get too deep into deciphering what she wrote (especially since it is very likely that no one will be reading this anyway). I commend her on her insights and her ability to get a good discussion going, even though I pretty much disagree with her on most everything she said.
There is only one thing that I would like to point out that no one else seems to have noted. According to Ms. Aymer, a major flaw that infects the writers of the "Letter" is their contextual parochialism. They are allowing themselves to be subject to their historical, cultural, and geographical settings, which means they think only within the "northern, US-based, European-American ideals of the 19th century and early 20th century." This, then, causes them to view their concerns and solutions without due attentivenessand considerations for the views of people in the rest of the world, or in other ages and times, especially in the church. The result, says Ms. Aymer, is "...a call back (or forward) to modernist values of separation upon disagreement and radical individualism, and pre-modernist/fundamentalist elevations of all aspects of religion, regardless of changing cultural norms (e.g. slaves obey your masters)." (With language like this, no wonder most of the world considers our intra-church squabbles irrelevant! We are at the least quite unintelligible.)
Okay, so much for that. What is interesting to me is that Ms. Aymer herself employs the same neglect of the views and norms of the rest of the world and ages that she accuses the writers of the "Letter." Most of the church of the past and the present views the Bible as a revelatory book that is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and thus warranting obedience and reverance. She sees this as a outdated idea that should be rejected, but she makes this judgement as a North American 21st century post-modern liberal who is part of a very, very miniscule theologically esoteric "club" in a declining and culturally "out-of-touch" American protestant denomination. She trumps the teachings and views of most Christians of all time and places with her own opinions without providing due justification for doing so.
She mirrors in her own actions the following accusation she makes against the "Letter" writers. Ms. Aymer declares, "What is clear is that their ecclesiology parallels exactly the cultural norms of 21st-century neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism and neo-liberal globalism which purport to bring the Western ideal to the rest of the world without first determining whether that ideal is in fact ideal for (italics hers) the rest of the world or asking what the rest of the world might consider to be ideal." Does she herself follow the rest of the world's views on women's leadership, gay rights, and religious freedom? Does she dare ask the rest of the world what is considered "ideal," especially regarding her own "post-modern liberationist" views? (It seems to me that I hear echos of a Marxist voice in her critique, so that is why I use the term "liberationist.") Of course not. As Christians are more aware than most, the world in its myriad of cultures is still wrong about some important things. Christians of all times and ages have had to contend with a disconnect between obedience to the eternal Word of God and the constantly shifting demands of culture.
Then there is Ms. Aymer's sacred allegiance to the PCUSA as somehow being an entity that embodies all the aspects of the church universal. She audaciously writes, "Instead, with God's help, I will remain in the Presbyterian Church, USA, and with my denomination I will follow the Christ whose followers dwindled from 5000 to zero over the course of three years, yet who calls us still to follow; who has been demonstrated a capable healer of the deathly ill and has revealed himself to be the resurrection and the life." (Of course, whether or not the PCUSA is following Christ is pretty much the question at hand, isn't it?)
What is she talking about here? When did Christ's followers dwindle "from 5000 to zero over the course of three years," and why is this named as her "denomination." I think she is talking about Jesus followers before the Crucifixion, but his followers did not go down to zero ever, and there was a big event called the Resurrection, which enabled the followers of Jesus to explode in numbers throughout the world for over two thousand years! Maybe she missed this because this universal witness of the Church may be more at odds with her views than they are with those she is dismissing with her entertaining sophistry.
THE PCUSA IS NOT THE FULL EMBODIMENT OF THE CHURCH, IT IS ONLY ONE UTILITARIAN STRUCTURAL FORM OF ONE PART OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST FOR A CERTAIN TIME IN CERTAIN PLACES FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES, ALL OF WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT, WHO ALONE DETERMINE ITS VALUE AND RELEVANCE IN SERVICE TO JESUS CHRIST.
Anyway, this is my story, and I'm sticking to it.