PSALT (pronounced “salt;” the “p” is psilent) was born as Presbyterians around the country felt the need to respond to a well-orchestrated lobby, first online and then in the courts of the church, which aimed at taking the church in a direction away from its traditional understanding of biblical sexual ethics, and toward the affirmation of homosexual practice, now commonplace in our culture. As our colleagues in Presbytery called for “hospitality and justice for all” and “full inclusion” of LBGTQ-identified persons, we were aware that there were foundational matters, touching the understanding of the gospel and the Christian life, the interpretation and authority of Scripture, the view of the Holy Spirit and the Church, on which a conversation in our denomination was badly needed. So while PSALT was forged in the crucible of “the same sex debate,” our perspective is larger than that. We believe it is an “Apostolic” perspective — that is, embodying a kind of Christianity faithful to the Apostles’ teachings, which is the basis of our unity with the rest of ecumenical Christianity, and which is vitally tied in to Life in Christ (our remaining in the “True Vine,” our participation in the Holy Spirit).
It appears to us that Christianity in our time is splitting into two streams:
“Progressive” Christianity, while acknowledging a heritage in the source documents of the Christian faith, regards evolution beyond them as necessary to accommodate “the spirit of Christ” to the world of today. Basic doctrines and standards of ethical behaviour, historically agreed among Christians, are all open to revision.
“Apostolic” or “Classical” Christianity regards the power and vitality of the Early Church, and the transformative grace of the evangelical message reasserted in the Reformation, as something we only have access to, as we remain grafted in to the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. The gospel, apostolic Christians believe, is already accommodated to culture by God, in that it is trans-culturally applicable, and challenging, as well as life-giving, to all cultures equally.
The winnowing of Christianity in our time between these two basic streams is a movement larger than anything going on just in the PCC, but the PCC in the next few years, and in this “same sex debate” in particular, will position itself within one or other of those streams. PSALT wants it to be the Apostolic stream – because, as we see it, that is the stream which flows from the Source, the stream in which there is Life, the stream which is connected to all the other streams of world-wide Christianity which will flow, at the end of time, into the City of God.
So PSALT has a broad vision, you could say — one that stretches from the Source to the Very End! But for the duration of the conversation around issues of human sexuality, as it will take place in the PCC throughout 2014-7, PSALT also has a very focused vision: We want to speak into that conversation with a classical Christian voice, and we want to do it with that balanced posture of love and truth which has always characterized those filled with the Holy Spirit. PSALT resists framing that conversation in terms of “full inclusion” or “hospitality and justice toward LBGTQ-identified persons.” PSALTy ministers and PSALTed congregations understand themselves as already exercising a ministry which is “welcoming,” “hospitable,” “inclusive” and “just” and do not at all recognize themselves in the uncharitable ways they have been caricatured (ie. as “homophobes” and “haters”). This is not to deny that our churches have a great deal of growing to do in order to become the kind of “welcoming, nurturing, loving and supportive” communities which the 1994 Statement on Human Sexuality calls on us to be (6.23). But this should be a conversation about the nature of discipleship and about the nature of the church as a transformational community of truth and grace, not one that echoes the rhetoric of LBGTQ activism and the politicized movement called “Pride.” PSALT will seek to season the conversation in accordance with the perspectives and values outlined here. We hope that you will come to this website often, whenever you crave more PSALT.
The PSALT movement is constantly growing. There are a number of working groups focused on various tasks that encourage a biblically faithful expression of our Christian discipleship and witness. Here are some of our leaders and contacts across the country:
Chris Little, Kevin Livingston, Jim Statham, Martin Kreplin, Calvin Brown, Alex MacLeod, Derek Krunys, Duncan Cameron, George Malcolm, Luke Vanderkamp, Daniel MacKinnon, Harold Hunt, Nan St. Louis, John Wilson, and Meridyth and Gavin Robertson.