Kincaid Continues to Attack with All Heat, No Light on the New
by Robert A. J.
Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA 15206-2596
Aug. 11, 2008
a PDF version with proper pagination and format click
In his new tirade (“Gagnon
Revisited,” Aug. 10, 2008), Box Turtle Timothy Kincaid continues to
respond in anger and fear, as evidenced by regular snide and hateful
remarks, but with precious little rational thought. He apparently believes
that, when it comes to facts, it is better to stick his head in the shell
and (here unlike the quiet box turtle) scream from the shell. Apparently I
just supplied too many arguments for Kincaid to handle in my response, “Why
Box Turtle Kincaid Continues to Be Logic-Challenged and Now Also
unprincipled position: Intention counts only when it furthers his
How logic-challenged or just plain deceptive Kincaid is
becomes obvious when he recasts my point about his unprincipled stance as
“You have to agree with me in order to be principled” and claims that I
don’t “provide any actual examples” of Kincaid advocating an unprincipled
position. The “actual example” is clear:
On the one hand, Kincaid “reasons” that the recent General
Assembly “Authoritative Interpretation” (A.I.) of ordination standards
should permit ordination of homosexually active candidates because the
intent of the commissioners who voted for this confusing A.I. should be
respected, even if the actual text of the A.I. doesn’t come close to
establishing it and contradicts the Book of Order (the polity half
of the Constitution), common sense, and even itself in the process.
On the other hand, Kincaid could care less about respecting
the original intent of the “fidelity and chastity” clause in G-6.0106b of
the Book of Order, whose wording is completely clear that no
one shall be ordained who engages in sexual intercourse outside of
“covenant of marriage between a man and a woman” and whose essential
status is obviously indicated by explicitly singling out this
“requirement” from “among” all “the historic confessional standards of the
church.” This is a perfect example of an unprincipled position:
adopting a principle when it furthers one’s ideological agenda but
dispensing with it when it doesn’t.
The logic is fairly simple, even for someone like Kincaid
who is so disposed to deny in knee-jerk fashion anything that disagrees
with his homosexualist agenda.
intent behind a piece of legislation has priority even in cases where
the wording of the text is unclear.
intent behind the sexuality standard in the Constitution (G-6.0106b) is
clear; namely, to forbid absolutely the ordination of homosexually
Therefore the intent of the sexuality standard in the
Constitution, namely, to forbid
absolutely the ordination of homosexually active candidates, takes
precedence, as a constitutional provision, over any alleged “intent” to
ordain homosexually active candidates through a General Assembly
“authoritative interpretation” that has no power to change the
Constitution apart from an amendment process requiring the approval of a
majority of presbyteries.
Instead of arriving at this obvious application, Kincaid
says that the intent of the constitutional standard can be disregarded
while the intent of a non-constitutional and convoluted “authoritative
interpretation” should be privileged. He supplies no rationale for the
argument (because none exists). He simply asserts it because, well, he is
Box Turtle Kincaid.
Never mind that those who wrote this clear constitutional
standard believed that it absolutely forbade the ordination of those
engaged in homosexual practice. Never mind that the General Assembly that
passed the amendment did so by a 57% majority (compare the lower 54%
majority for the new A.I.). Never mind that the constitutional amendment
also passed the hurdle of a nationwide vote of the presbyteries (56.4%),
something that the new A.I. doesn’t have to do (and couldn’t hope to do).
Never mind that the clarity of intent behind the constitutional amendment
was established by three nationwide votes of the presbyteries by ever
increasing margins (the last by 73% of presbyteries) over a six-year
period, while the A.I. passed only by a small margin in one year at one
General Assembly. Never mind that the wording of the sexuality standard is
clear while the wording of the A.I. is unclear to the point of being
convoluted and contradictory. Never mind that a constitutional provision
like the sexuality standard in G-6.0106b carries more weight than an
interpretation of an “authoritative interpretation” that contradicts it.
Box Turtle Kincaid says: Never mind about all these things
because I don’t want the intent behind the constitutional standard to
count; I only want the intent behind the new A.I. to count. And then
Kincaid wants us to believe that the logic of those who disagree with his
tendentious reading is “tortured” while he, allegedly, has shown us what
good reasoning is. Kincaid talks about “driving me into a rage” when the
only real danger that I face is being driven to uncontrollable laughter by
the silliness of his “arguments.” Here we have a clear case of projection
on Kincaid’s part.
Oh yes, he does cite one “authority” to buttress his
unprincipled position. He tells us that a reporter from the Presbyterian
News Service, Jerry Van Marter, agrees with him (a reporter who,
incidentally, in the past has shown a willingness to slant the truth in
favor of the homosexualist agenda). Well, in that case the whole matter
must be settled! I don’t even know why we have a court to decide on
acceptable interpretations of the Constitution once Jerry Van Marter has
told us what to think. Kincaid conveniently forgets what I told him in my
earlier piece: the liberal high court, the General Assembly Permanent
Judicial Commission, has disagreed even with the Stated Clerk’s Advisory
Opinion on a similar 2006 A.I., to say nothing of a PNS reporter. So Jerry
Van Marter’s opinion carries absolutely no weight here.
Why “apply equally” cannot
mean that local and regional ordaining bodies have a right to ordain
violators of any or every ordination standard at will
Kincaid makes little effort to represent my arguments
accurately and fairly, which is the only way that he can get readers to
see the tortured logic and unprincipled stance of his own position. He
summarizes one argument as, “When the A.I. says ‘apply equally’ it doesn’t
really mean equally because some requirements are essential,” and then
claims that this doesn’t make any sense.
In fact, what doesn’t make sense is the claim that the
second sentence of the new A.I., namely, that “the
requirements of G-6.0108 apply equally to all ordination standards
of the Presbyterian Church,” means that regional and local governing
bodies can ordain anyone, no matter which requirement or how
many requirements of the Book of Order are violated by a given
candidate. Such a claim is both contradictory and absurd.
It contradicts the first sentence of the new
A.I. which affirms the 2006 A.I. The latter, in turn, affirmed the right
of higher governing bodies to overturn the ordination decisions of lower
governing bodies when such decisions are found to be in non-compliance
with the Constitution. The right of higher review presumes that the right
to determine essentials of the Constitution is not solely the domain of
sessions or even presbyteries. In short, there are essentials that can be
identified as such at the churchwide level, including the specific
“fidelity and chastity” clause in G-6.0106b which is singled out for
compliance from “among” all “the historic confessions of the church.”
It contradicts the last sentence of the new
A.I., which absolutely forbids a governing body the right to ordain anyone
who cannot carry out his or her “constitutional functions.” “Apply
equally” can’t mean that there are no ordination requirements that all
governing bodies are bound to treat as essential and whose violation would
serve as a necessary barrier to ordination. If it did, then the A.I.
itself couldn’t treat ability to carry out “the constitutional functions
of one’s office” as an essential. And yet it does.
It contradicts the very clause of the Book
of Order that the new A.I. is supposed to “interpret,” G-6.0108.
According to G.6.0108, some things are absolutely forbidden to all
candidates, including “obstructing the constitutional governance of the
church” (see below for further discussion).
It is absurd to argue that a regional or
local governing body has the right to deem any requirement of the Book
of Order nonessential for ordination (i.e., not a necessary barrier to
ordination when violated), since it would allow such bodies to ordain even
persons who didn’t believe in Christ as Savior and Lord (in violation of
the first ordination vow) or who engaged in active adultery and polyamory
(in violation of the sexuality standard in G-6.0106b).
Given these four points it doesn’t make sense to interpret the “apply
equally” sentence to mean that all governing bodies can treat, at will,
any or all ordination standard as nonessential. Now one could
interpret the “apply equally” sentence to mean that all the specific
requirements of the Book of Order are alike in being essential and
binding precisely because they are “requirements,” not “preferences.” Yet
that interpretation would mean that the sexuality standard in G-6.0106b
remains absolutely binding on all governing bodies, which is precisely
what homosexualists don’t want the new A.I. to mean.
Kincaid states that my argument here doesn’t make sense, it is hard to
decide whether he is being deliberately obtuse or simply doesn’t have the
capacity to understand any truth that conflicts with his homosexualist
grid. Probably Kincaid doesn’t even have a clue what G-6.0108 says, the
part of the Constitution that the new A.I. is supposed to interpret
(though I cited part of it in my last response). If so, he never should
have commented on the subject of the new A.I. in the first place.
ordaining persons who are homosexually active is a direct violation even
of the text that the new A.I. is supposed to interpret
Kincaid also summarizes my argument as: “And
because it is the function of ordaining bodies to ordain those in
agreement with the Book of Order, ordaining gay candidates would be a
violation of the function of the bodies which would invalidate their
ability to perform their function. Therefore these ordaining bodies
themselves become invalid.” This is an extraordinarily convoluted way of
expressing a clear point:
A.I. purports to “interpret” G-6.0108.
G-6.0108 expressly forbids the ordination of anyone whose beliefs lead
to “obstructing the constitutional governance of the church.”
Officers who ordained candidates whose ordination the Book of Order
expressly forbids—such as those who do not confine their sexual
relations to “the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman”
(G-6.0106b)—would, by definition, be “obstructing the constitutional
governance of the church.”
Therefore, it cannot be a constitutionally valid interpretation of
G-6.0108 to permit a governing body to ordain homosexually active
example, a candidate or officer can personally believe that women
shouldn’t be ordained but a candidate or officer cannot declare that he or
she will not ordain women. For the latter would “obstruct the
constitutional governance of the church” in violation of G-6.0108a. This
point is acknowledged by most homosexualist supporters of the new A.I. By
the same reasoning, a candidate can personally believe that homosexually
active candidates who are otherwise in compliance with the Book of
Order should be ordained but a candidate or officer cannot declare
that he will ordain, or actually ordain, homosexually active candidates.
That would be another case of obstructing the church’s constitutional
Again, why this is so difficult for Kincaid to understand
is difficult to say: is he logic-challenged or principle-challenged, or
Kincaid’s tortured logic in claiming to
divine the intention behind more than 96% of the commissioners who voted
on the new A.I.
Kincaid finds it impossible to believe that just 3.5% of
all commissioners at General Assembly (or 7% of those commissioners that
voted for the new A.I.) might not have understood that the new A.I. was
making it possible to ordain homosexually active candidates (even though
the text of the A.I. makes no mention of homosexual ordination) and, more,
did so on the manifestly absurd assumption that there are absolutely no
ordination essentials applicable “to all times and persons.” I believe
that there is a good chance, and perhaps a likelihood, that at least
1 out of 10 commissioners who voted for the new A.I., and probably more,
would not have done so if they realized that the cost of making the
ordination of homosexually active candidates possible was that of allowing
governing bodies to declare every and any ordination requirement as
nonessential, even faith in Christ and fidelity in marriage.
Readers can judge for themselves whether it is conceivable
that for every 100 people in a crowded assemble inundated with hundreds of
pages of material in a few days it is possible to get a measly 3-4 who
don’t really understand the implications of an oblique and confusing piece
of legislation such as this new A.I. was. I teach at a seminary. I don’t
know a single colleague who hasn’t been regularly stunned by how many
students in a given course misunderstand what the professor’s perspective
is on some of the most basic issues. Given the lack of clarity and
multiple internal and external contradictions in the new A.I., a 3-4%
figure is very charitable indeed.
Kincaid also conveniently neglects other problems with his
intention-argument that I have raised. Most homosexualists in the PCUSA
have operated for years with the view that the intent behind the passing
and reaffirmation of the “fidelity and chastity” clause in G-6.0106b was
either not discernable or not meaningful. It would be hypocritical for the
very same people to turn around now and argue that the intent held by
pushers of the more oblique and badly worded new A.I. is somehow
determinative. Moreover, the GAPJC (i.e., the high court) has typically
made decisions in the past regarding G-6.0106b and other constitutional
provisions and A.I.’s on the basis of the strict wording of the text, not
on the basis of any alleged intent on the part of those who voted for it.
This is standard operating procedure for the PCUSA. Finally, the intention
behind the sexuality standard in G-6.0106b, approved and reaffirmed by the
presbyteries clearly and convincingly over a six-year period, would take
precedence over any intention behind a single General Assembly
deliberating a confused A.I. (if intention were a decisive consideration).
In not commenting on any of these things to his readers, Kincaid shows
that he has little interest in a full-orbed presentation of the truth.
It is such a shame that Kincaid even now continues his
pattern of misrepresenting arguments and evidence, leaving out crucial
information for readers, making logical missteps, taking unprincipled
positions, and spewing out angry snide remarks and ad hominem
attacks. The level of personal culpability for deception and hatred on his
part grows as the evidence against his position mounts.