What a Confessional Convention Might Look Like

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I’ve been pushing this idea of a Confessional Conversation  as a way forward on the conflict over same-sex marriage and LGBTQ liberation and struggling to answer the question “what would that actually look like?”

A few posts ago I talked about the concept of curating a conversation and proto-confessions. After some more conversation I wondered what it might be to have a Confessional Convention. What might that look like? How might that help the process?

What might this look like or not look like?

Not a celebrity driven conference: The focus would not be big speeches by big names in front of big audiences. The desire would be to create many accessible conversations where there could be papers given but also discussion and listening to one another.

The goal would not be a grand bargain or avoiding a split. Often what you see when churches have “summits” is a desire for one new bright idea to come out and somehow resolve everything. This is often what is implied by “a way forward”. I’m dubious. I don’t care how much praying you do, smooth processing you do, this goal has eluded every effort to find it so far. I don’t think it can be done, the division is simply too binary right now.

The goal would be to see what clarity could emerge against the larger theological landscape concerning the issues involved. The point of my confessional conversation has been to pull back the lens, from a macro-lens trying to focus on the dew on one flower to how that flower relates to the other plants in the theological and implicit confessional expressions that are cropping up around us. We want to clarify perspective and we assume from the beginning that there will be multiple perspectives in tension or in conflict.

The event would be curated and facilitated for clarity, sub-communities and proto-confessions. Desired outcomes, besides new friendships, relationships, networks and understanding would be that implicit confessions could become more explicit and communities, teams and friendships could emerge behind these emerging confessions.

The convention would have no political authority in the CRC or anywhere else. Classes, congregations, clergy, denominational leaders could feed from and use what proto-confessions might come out of the process but it would not itself be an authoritative process for the CRC or anyone else.

Anyone would be welcome to come. The boundaries would be behavioral. There would be a code of conduct explicit and enforced, one that helps us have productive conversations and allows multiple voices to be heard. Convention organizers would be looking for emergence of clear proto-confessions that allow groups to coalesce and proceed.

The Convention would be imagined to be just one event in a larger, longer conversation. The organizers and curators would probably want to build interest and material for the convention online prior to the event using social media and existing factions and interest groups.

The venue would be dependent upon interest. I could imagine something like this at a Christian college during the summer where there are dorms, dining halls, wifi, a library, and space for lots of little informal conversations to take place.

What do you think? What ideas do you have to contribute to it? Would you come? Why won’t it work?

I’m just dreaming here. I dream better when I’m not dreaming alone.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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4 Responses to What a Confessional Convention Might Look Like

  1. Pingback: Overture 31 from Wisconson and the Confessional Conversation | Leadingchurch.com

  2. Rob Braun says:

    I would think this is something for those who already accept SSM as a confessionally acceptable belief. I doubt very much those who see SSM as something not confessional or biblical would probably avoid the open ended conversation.

    • PaulVK says:

      I would hope not. Both sides have confessional work to do. Multiple proto-confessions could emerge. The goal is to contextualize the conversation in the midst of subterranean cultural forces. Both sides need to figure out their context and decide how to respond.

  3. Ann says:

    It took me a long time to realize that this debate has never been about SSM or affirmation of LGBTQ persons. It will probably take me longer to see what it is really about. I like this idea of having a confessional conversation because at least we would give ourselves a chance to figure out what the conflict is really about. I really believe we have created a scapegoat (in the LGBTQ community) to carry some brokenness that we can’t bear to name. What do we really have to lose?

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