From the Foreword:
It is no secret that there are great contentions, often over moral matters, in the churches of North Carolina today. Therefore, it might make some sense to bracket the moral issues of the day, for a season, and turn attention elsewhere. With the brackets securely in place, this project, “A Reflection on the Churches’ Doctrine of Humanity,” revisits the doctrine that systematic theologians call “anthropology” or “Christian anthropology.”
Describing and comparing the official anthropological doctrines of eight communions, the project uncovers convergence and specifies disagreements. Renewal in the churches’ doctrine about humanity, it is hoped, can then assist the various churches in responding to the contentions over moral matters in a way that is most faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, this project might prove to be useful to the North Carolina Council of Churches (NCCC). Much of the ecumenical ministry of the NCCC has to do with the churches’ social-justice witness. This is in accord with the notion that “doctrine divides, service unites.” On the other hand, this project is based on the conviction that doctrine, when it is most deeply understood, can demonstrate unity in Christ and can ground the churches’ service on firm foundations.
It is my prayerful hope that “A Reflection on the Churches’ Doctrine of Humanity” will deepen, and make more faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the theological conversation, teaching, and witness of the Christian community of North Carolina. Furthermore, it is my hopeful prayer that this project will help the churches of North Carolina to show forth their unity in Jesus Christ.
Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth
Christian Unity Committee/North Carolina Council of Churches
St. Peter’s and Broad Creek United Methodist Churches
Morehead City, NC
Third Week after Epiphany 2004