A group named PSALT—short for Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth—has sent letters to all sessions and presbyteries within the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and has bought advertisements in the Presbyterian Record for the past few months, to encourage a “more biblically faithful expression of Christian discipleship and witness.”
The Record has received notes of concern regarding PSALT’s letter. PSALT has no official standing within the courts of the PCC, though it is comprised of members within the church concerned about possible changes to doctrine. The letter does not breach any polity, though it is an unorthodox means of communicating within the PCC tradition.
According to the letter, PSALT supports the PCC’s 1994 Report on Human Sexuality. One of letter’s signatories, Rev. Grant Gunnink, minister at Valleyview, Calgary, Alta., wrote to the Record to explain: “While the … move to revise the PCC’s position … was the catalyst for our formation, PSALT is more concerned with the vast shift in the underlying ‘tectonic plates’ of our theology.”
PSALT, he explains, upholds five affirmations: “Christ (his centrality and uniqueness), Scripture (its revealed nature and authority), the Holy Spirit (the unity of Word and Spirit in guiding the Church), discipleship (the integration of faith with obedience), and mission (bearing
distinctive Christian witness in post-Christian culture).”
PSALT sees the current conversation on human sexuality as part of an ongoing movement within the PCC. “Recommendations of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee have sparked discussion about the uniqueness of Christ; the Committee on Church Doctrine has addressed overtures regarding our scriptural understanding; the Assembly Council’s strategic plan to prioritize congregations and the biennial [General] Assemblies proposal strike to the heart of our ecclesiology, and how we believe the Spirit speaks.”
Gunnink goes on to state: “With new laws on assisted death, the church’s ‘culture of life’ is cast in high relief against our society’s ‘culture of death.’ Our truth and reconciliation journey with Aboriginal peoples also requires a clear, biblical understanding of what repentance and Christian engagement of other cultures means.”
Rev. Wes Denyer, minister at Rosedale, Toronto, has been a vocal advocate for progressive issues within the PCC and was involved in writing the online open letter found at pccforinclusion.com. In an email to the Record he stated: “PSALT is correct that the church is faced with very large shifts in how we live out our faith in the world. This situation offers the church a wonderful opportunity to discover what it is to be Christ-like in the midst of diversity and massive social change. … I don’t know what the church will look like in 50 years, or even in 25 years. But I’m not worried about the church. We have companions in this wilderness. We have each other, and we have our relationship to God. We have Christ and the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit; and we’ve been through many other wilderness areas before, with just exactly those same companions.”