Rev Brian Kennaway in his opinion piece (Some questions for those who signed ‘ Cry from heart letter’, September 12) rightly points out that only 36 Presbyterian ministers and 196 elders out of a total in Ireland of 5,913 elders and 490 ministers “represent only a very small minority”.
He then reminds these potential dissidents from church doctrine and practice that their vows to uphold the good governance of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland have been reneged on.
My difficulty is that Presbyterianism manifests itself in conflicting doctrinal beliefs and practice, particularly here in the USA where the Presbyterian Church of America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church broke away from the National Church over doctrinal differences.
There are other autonomous churches which use the Presbyterian label.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is now drifting apart from Scottish Presbyterianism.
In Northern Ireland we also have Non-Subscribing, Reformed and Free Presbyterian congregations.
I have spoken to a few elders ( I am not an elder ) and asked them why they had signed the letter.
Motivations varied from loyalty to their minister and dismay at the expressed absolutism on human sexuality.
There was agreement that there is a pressing need for some leading Presbyterians with the intellect, theological insight and specific knowledge of genetics and human biology to interpret sexual mores, cultural memes and behaviour as described in the Old and New Testaments and their relevance for contemporary society.
The professors of Union Theological College are reluctant to debate their views in public.
I am also concerned at the treatment of the distinguished Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick who has been suspended.
I and my wife met Laurence last April on a First World War battlefield tour in France and Belgium with some serving (and former) British Army Presbyterian padres.
Laurence has an outstanding intellect and is a man of humility.
It is my sincere hope that differences within our Church can be resolved.
I am reminded of Alexander Pope’s wisdom:
“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man.”
George McNally, Chesapeake Street NW, Washington DC, USA