I find it interesting how easily some people throw around words like "apostate," "unfaithful," "heresy," etc. During the speak out session at the opening of the afternoon session at GA a few speakers admonished the church with selected scripture. The admonishment was intended, evidently, to scold commissioners and the church for it's failure to follow scripture. One speaker referred to the "apostasy" heard at presbytery meetings.
Now I am no stranger to hyperbole. Get me started on a topic I feel passionately about and I am likely to dig into my thesaurus and make some bad decisions. We all, from time to time, forget that words matter. The things we say matter. And just because something sounds one way in your head does not mean that it will when it gets out in the world.
To call a member of the church apostate is about as harsh as you can get. Webster's defines an apostate as one whose beliefs have led them to no longer be a part of a religious or political group. To call someone apostate is to say that they are no longer part of the church. Saying that to anyone is uncalled for but saying it to people who have given of their time, energy and wisdom to spend a week doing the work of the church is offensive.
And often those charges of apostasy come with scriptural allusions that are cherry picked for their use in condemning. There is no need to rehash the dangers of proof-texting and using scripture to prove your point rather than to illumine God's.
Healthy disagreement is a good thing for the church. Name calling and theological bomb throwing are not healthy debate. If you disagree with an action of the church, articulate what you believe IS faithful. To resort to ad hominem attacks against those with whom you disagree makes it very easy to dismiss you and your point of view.
There are many actions we take as a denomination that would, I believe, benefit from some measure of disagreement and debate. Unfortunately, the vocabulary for disagreement has become the vocabulary of scorched earth and what could be valuable voices in the conversation are lost to their own hyperbole.
If there is a common theme running through this GA, it is jointly the possibilities that come when we take a breath and speak in faithfulness both when we agree and disagree and the danger of shouting so loud in anger that your voice is ignored or reduced to background clutter. The words we use and the ways we use them matter.