A Box of Chocolates
About three years ago, theatre-goers were treated to the philosophical ruminations of the bumbling Forest Gump, the hero of a movie of the same name. In one of the more celebrated scenes, Gump says that "life is like a box of chocolates: you never know just what you're going to get."
We wonder: If Gump were familiar with the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC), what advice would he give? Perhaps it would be something like: "The Standing Judicial Commission report is like a box of chocolates: you never know just what you're going to get."
For example, over the past several years, we have been treated to the man-who-rented-space-to-an-abortion-clinic-escapes-ecclesiastical-discipline truffle; the licentiate-does-not-have-to-believe-in-the-universality-of-the-flood delight, and the chocolate-covered defendants-denied-the-opportunity-to-call-witnesses. The SJC even offered the violate-our-own-rules-regarding-the-appointment-of-judicial-panels chocolate syrup, which could be spread over most of the candies.
We are happy to report that, this year, we can swallow most of the SJC rulings. (After all, one never knows what one is going to get.) However, even in 1997, we are being offered the charismatic twist and the candied higher-court-may-not-act-for-lower-court.
But this year, something new has been added to the sampler. The SJC, of its own accord, has included the surreptitious sweet called let's-amend-the-Manual-and-not-let-anyone-know-before-the-Assembly-what-the-changes-are.
This candy, of course, features a particular surprise. Not only are we treated to something unexpected, but we are not supposed to know what's in it until it's well down the throat.
It is difficult to write this editorial, our first one dealing with the Standing Judicial Commission, knowing the hard and, in many cases, sincere efforts put forth by its members. We are cognizant also of the high esteem that many in the PCA have for those who serve on this Commission.
But the SJC should not attempt to amend the Manual, except as instructed by the Assembly. And it should not attempt to have the newly-amended version to be declared that which the 1996 Assembly approved. In light of repeated requests for the Manual and the claim by the Secretary that he does not have a clean copy, one wonders what secret recipes are in this cookbook. When the SJC engages in such elusive activity, it becomes extremely problematic for many in the church to take the SJC seriously.
We hope and pray that the Assembly will make its selection of SJC chocolates carefully. We especially would counsel that the newly-revised-Manual fudge, though sugar-coated, might be very bitter to digest.