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Title: Oral History Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985. Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Taylor, J. Randolph, interviewee
Interview conducted by Kalk, Bruce
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 132 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
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Languages used in the text: English
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2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-02-12, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985. Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0021)
Author: Bruce Kalk
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985. Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0021)
Author: J. Randolph Taylor
Description: 181 Mb
Description: 42 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 23, 1985, by Bruce Kalk; recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jean Houston.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985.
Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Taylor, J. Randolph, interviewee


Interview Participants

    J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR, interviewee
    BRUCE KALK, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BRUCE KALK:
… if you could discuss your personal background, your family, where you grew up and where you were born, this sort of thing.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I was born in China, in Kiangsu province in north China, the son of Presbyterian missionaries. My mother's family were from North Carolina and Virginia, my father's from South Carolina. My mother died when I was three years old, so that my father bundled up his four boys, of which I was the third, and came back to North Carolina to be with her family, and so my first memories are really of Charlotte, North Carolina, where I now serve as a pastor. I grew up in part here and in part in Charleston, South Carolina, and then in Nashville, Tennessee. I went to public schools in Charleston, South Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee, and then spent my summers during all those years in Montreat, a Presbyterian conference center outside Asheville, and with visits pretty regularly to Charlotte. I've always had a deep feeling of identification with North Carolina. Not surprisingly, I went to Davidson College, which is a Presbyterian school, and my family had been intimately associated with it. My great-great-grandfather was the first President of Davidson College, so these roots go way back in North Carolina soil and history. I met my wife in Montreat, and we were married in her home in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1951 and then went to Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where I received the theological degree and then went to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and got my Ph.D. degree. I returned to this country in 1956 and went to Washington, D.C., where I was pastor of the Church of the Pilgrims, an inner city

Page 2
church near Dupont Circle, a fascinating experience. I was there eleven years, all during the civil rights struggle and the beginning of the Vietnam struggle. I moved from there to Atlanta, Georgia, where I was pastor of Central Presbyterian Church, right across the street from the State Capitol and the City Hall and so forth, and again [had] fascinating experiences in terms of community involvement, and was there for a period of almost nine years. Then I came here to Charlotte in 1976 and have been here now for nine years as pastor of Myers Park Church. It's like coming home, and it's also been a valuable experience for me to work with a very established church, a kind of flagship church for southern Presbyterians, and my ministry has been one of seeking to help and assist and enable this congregation of leaders in the community and business and political life to identify their involvement in the church with their involvement in the community and the moral underpinnings for social and personal involvement. At the same time, I've been heavily involved in the whole matter of Presbyterian reunion, and that's a whole different subject, but that's engaged me a great deal since I've been here. You may know that I have just accepted a call and will be leaving in June of this year to go to San Francisco, California, where I'll be President of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and so we are building a house up outside Montreat, and that will be our anchor in the East. In fact, the call to San Francisco includes a specific item of a leave of absence at Christmas and New Year's in order to be able to spend the holidays with family in North Carolina. That's specifically noted in the call, so that they on the west coast are aware that our

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roots are here, and we will return to Montreat as an anchor in the eastern part of the country.
BRUCE KALK:
I'm not sure that we know what year you were born and when you were growing up.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I was born January 12, 1929. I'm fifty-six years old.
BRUCE KALK:
What writers and thinkers have influenced the development of your thought, Dr. Taylor?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
The thinkers who have influenced my thought most significantly are persons with whom I was intimately associated or whom I knew personnaly. One, frankly, was my father, who was a very strong individual with pastoral instincts and a vision of the church that carried him to China as a missionary and then brought him back to this country, and he was in charge of our World Mission Program for some years. He was the dominant male influence in my life, I'm sure. He died in our home here in Charlotte about five years ago, and there's no question but that his writings, which were not great, but our conversations were a very, very substantial influence upon me. The professor in Aberdeen, Scotland, under whom I studied was Archibald M. Hunter, a New Testament scholar who has written extensively, and I had an almost ideal academic setting for graduate studies. I would covet that for you or for anybody involved. Dr. Hunter was in the United States just about the time I was graduating from Union Seminary in Richmond, and I had a fellowship and was going somewhere and didn't know where. And he suggested that I come and study with him up in Aberdeen and work on a project that he was fascinated with, and that is the rediscovery of a Scottish theologian named James Denney, so I agreed to do this. Arline and I arrived in Aberdeen, up in the

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northeastern part of Scotland. We were the first Americans to go there for graduate study. Dr. Hunter met our train and carried us to our flat and presented me with my books. He had been to all the used book stores and gotten all of James Denney's works, had already bought them and presented them to me and said, "Now this is your reading material. You can start tomorrow morning." And that began a period of about two and a half years when he and I were together every day, either for tea in the afternoon or for a game of golf or for just a walk through the city of Aberdeen or the hills around it, almost an ideal setting of one-on-one, and working together on a common interest, so that in retrospect that was a very fortunate experience for me. A.M. Hunter was a formative influence on my life. Through books, in terms of the field of theology and so forth, the most significant influences have been Karl Barth and Emil Bruner. Both of those are Continental theologians whose influence was pretty pervasive on my generation of theological students. In this country, supremely the Niebuhrs, Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Niebuhr, were the influences in shaping my theology, but nothing quite so dominant as those personal contacts with those two strong individuals while I was growing up and in graduate study. The other person I'd have to mention is that man whose name I mentioned in terms of his work, James Denney, a man whom I never met but whom I know better than anybody [laughter] , because I spent those years of graduate study digging into his life and his mind and his times, and I find increasingly that has shaped a good bit of my thinking. The interesting thing about him was that he was a man ahead of his time, and he anticipated much of neo-orthodoxy and what you find, to some extent, in the work of the

Page 5
Niehuhrs was anticipated somewhat in Denny's work. Now I should also add, though, that when I came away from Scotland in '56, I was a Biblical scholar and a kind of teaching preacher.
By a strange providence I ended up in Washington, D.C. as my first pastorate, and it was in '56, the beginning, really, of the civil rights struggle. I was in an inner city parish that became increasingly aware of the difficulties of the structures and the systems of a major metropolitan area, so that my first parish shaped an additional concern for me, and that is the whole matter of social change and the whole matter of how you affect social change without destroying a community and its structures. And there I would say that there have been a combination of influences. Again, one comes out of one's own personal experience. The person who probably shaped me most helpfully during that time was Martin Luther King, Jr. I came to know him personally and can tell you about that if that's an interest to follow up. But through his writings as well as through being a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with him, he was a major shaper in a different area, and there are others who have helped me in terms of the whole field of social dynamics.
BRUCE KALK:
Let's turn to this question then, if you could comment a little more in depth on your involvement in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and your relationship with Martin Luther King.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I grew up in the South, so that I was aware of the difficulty, the distance between the races, and I can tell you a whole lot more than you want to know about what it means. Did you grow up in the South? Well, it was fascinating. In fact, I shared with a group of North Carolinians up near Asheboro just on

Page 6
Tuesday of this week my whole pilgrimage in terms of racial attitudes. It's fascinating to reflect back on how I was unconsciously conditioned toward a kind of cultured racism. I wasn't a race-baiter and I never saw a lynching. The brutality of the relationships was to me a subject that I came on in academic studies of the history of the South. But I experienced the distance between the races and never quite understood why it was and was told it was a matter of education and so forth. But it was not really until I got into Washington, which was then a predominantly black community under the control of Congress at that time without any right to vote; the citizens of the District had no right to vote. It was ruled by committees of the House of Representatives, which were ruled by those who had seniority, and the seniority people in the House of Representatives were Congressmen from the South. I remember the key figure was a Congressman from South Carolina named McMillan. We all called him "Judge McMillan." He really was. He was judge and everything else. It was a fascinating thing. He stayed in office in part by being able to report to his constituency in South Carolina that things were terrible in Washington because of the predominantly black population when, in fact, he was in charge. He was the effective one who accomplished whatever was done administratively in Washington, so he had a perfect cyclical system of security. He could see that things were bad in Washington and then would go down to South Carolina and report that they were bad. In other words, I really came to terms with the whole matter of structural racism on the streets of Washington, D.C. and became influenced by black citizens with whom I worked on a number of different councils and committees. Most notable was a man with whom

Page 7
my church, the Church of the Pilgrims, established a community relationship with the Church of the Redeemer, a predominantly black church. Both of these were Southern Presbyterian churches in the District of Columbia, and the man who was called as their pastor was a man named Jefferson Rogers. Jeff Rogers and I were about the same age, and his wife and my wife both grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and it was one of those fascinating things where we sat down and we began to develop a relationship of complete candor. It took a little while to get absolutely honest with each other, but we began that kind of frank exchange of where we'd come from and what we saw as the situation. For instance, Mary Grace Rogers and Arline, as we sat at their table one night, discovered that they were both from Shreveport, and we talked about what that meant and so forth. It was perfectly amazing. Here were these two women about the same age, both interested in the same thing, both active in educational work, both active in the social life of the city, both active in the church and in youth conferences and all that sort of thing. When they sat down and talked together, all they really had in common was the weather. In other words, it was that distinct. There was a black community; there was a white community. And we wept over that. We began to realize the tragedy of that. I remember such helpful moments as when Jeff was talking about the predicament that blacks faced in terms of the structural racism. I remember saying to him, "Well, all I feel as a result of that is just pure guilt." And he said, "Guilt is not an adequate response. The trouble with guilt is that it paralyzes." That has stuck in my mind, and I think in some ways in part has been one of those moments of breakthrough for me, where I felt, "If you can

Page 8
do something about this, you really must do something about it." As a result of that friendship with him, which continues, we helped to form together the Washington chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Washington for the chartering of that chapter, and I met him and was with him on that occasion. I was with him on one or two other occasions that involved primarily meetings related to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Since by then, you see, I was a white southerner who was involved in what basically was a predominantly black civil rights movement I at least had the contacts which such a group needed to be able to establish relationships across town and throughout the South. When we moved to Atlanta to Central Presbyterian Church, one of the tangential things… It wasn't central to the whole decision, because we went as a call to Central Presbyterian Church, a splendid church thoroughly involved in the life of the city of Atlanta. But one of the serendipitous effects was the fact that Ebeneezer Baptist Church, of which Dr. King and his father were co-pastors, was about a quarter of a mile from Central Church, and so we contacted them and they were very hospitable to us. As we arrived in Atlanta, the Kings greeted us, and in retrospect that was very significant. That opened doors that we just simply would never have had opened to us, particularly in the black community but also somewhat in the white community. I moved to Atlanta in December of 1967, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968, just really four months later. The result was that what I think would have come to have been a very close association was aborted. Since Mrs. King had been so gracious when we came, Arlene and I went immediately over

Page 9
to her house and visited with her and with Daddy King and with Mrs. King, Sr., and that began a very close friendship, so that I have stayed in touch with the King family. I shared in Mama King's funeral. I went back to Atlanta to share in Daddy King's memorial service just this past year. And the two churches began to program together, a predominantly black church and a predominantly white church, and now do a great many things jointly. That relationship continues, and it's a very exciting one. Through the process of all that, I got to know the other civil rights leaders in Atlanta and was heavily involved with Andy Young. Andy was Chairman of the Community Relations Commission of the city of Atlanta, and I was his Vice-Chair. Then when he was elected to Congress, I became Chair of the Community Relations Commission, and Joe Lowry, who's now President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, became my Vice-Chair. Then when I came to Charlotte, he took over the Chairmanship of the CRC there. The result of this is that I've always been really involved in interracial discussions about the issues that affect the community and the society and have come a long time ago to see that it's very important that we talk together, that you cannot deal with any of these issues from a one-race point of view. I think that's the trap most people don't realize. They figure, "Well, we can figure out this problem, and we can solve it." But the "we" has got to include blacks as well as whites, and that's true for the black community as well as the white community. Each community can fool itself that it can do this alone, but it can't. Together we can really move in terms of the structures and systems of a metropolitan area like Charlotte, or a state like North Carolina, or this region, or the nation, but it's

Page 10
got to be both black and white, and that's, I guess, maybe the chief learning from all that pilgrimage.
BRUCE KALK:
How much involvement was there in the Southern Chrisiian Leadership Conference by Southern whites such as yourself?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
At the beginning, there was not very much. Well, there was some, a little sprinkling of it, but as the civil rights movement came of age… I would say it really came to maturity in 1963 with the March on Washington. That was a key and pivotal year for me. By then I was a member of SCLC; I was a member of the Host Committee in Washington for the March on Washington; I had convinced the session and congregation of the Church of the Pilgrims, who were basically mostly southern white people, that we should be involved in hosting this gathering and let our church be used as a place where Congressional delegations could meet the constituents from their states. And then, just at that point, our denominational leaders in the old Presbyterian Church here—that's the old Southern Church—made a declaration that they would not participate in the March on Washington. Now there were a good many churches that didn't participate, but the Southern Baptist Church and the Southern Presbyterian Church were the two that said specifically, "We will not participate." I was at that moment left hanging on a limb. I was a local pastor of a congregation, and my session had said, "We will participate," and the denominational leadership said that they will not. I wrote an open letter just before the March on Washington to the leaders of our denomination, basically saying, "We will miss you." Out of that began a movement within the Southern Presbyterian Church called A Fellowship of Concern, and it was an informal gathering of largely whites, though it was never

Page 11
segregated, and there were always blacks in some number. But it was predominantly white by a great margin, and its concern was involvement in the civil rights struggle, plus the giving of assistance to those who came into difficulty because of their work in civil rights. It was a signficant movement. The organization lasted for about five or six years and included a great many North Carolinians. It was strong in Virginia and North Carolina and in Georgia and in Tennessee and in Arkansas and in Texas and had active members in all the southern states. A Fellowship of Concern became very involved in the march from Selma to Montgomery. A Fellowship of Concern was involved in presenting a petition to the Senate at a moment in about 1964 or '5 when the Senate was locked up in filibuster from the southern senators, and we carried a petition signed by over 1,000 southerners indicating that the voice of filibuster is not the authentic voice of the South. It was one of those symbolic things. I remember Senator Russell was leading the filibuster, and his nephew, who was a good friend of mine, was one of the signers of the petition. Russell said at the time the reason that bill—I think it was the Voting Rights bill—passed was that the damn preachers decided it was a religious issue. I don't know if he was right. The reason a bill passes is that the conscience of the community coalesces around what it symbolizes, and there were a lot of factors, but certainly that was one. I guess that's to say that there were southern whites who became thoroughly involved in the civil rights struggle. I've given you one strain that's kind of predominantly Presbyterian, but there were similar movements in other areas. There are good examples of people like Will Campbell, who was a Southern Baptist who basically was a campus

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minister at the University of Mississippi for some years, a key white figure in a number of those civil rights confrontations. I wish I could name a whole lot, but it was a thin but though community of folk.
BRUCE KALK:
Let me ask you about the related issue of the desegregation of church-related colleges and other institutions. How did that go about for the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
It came very slowly, and I wish I could say that the Presbyterian Church led in that. We did not; we followed. The whole matter of desegregation of education has been a primary issue in my adult life. I graduated from Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, in May of 1954, and my class probably thought that that was the greatest event of that month or probably that year. But we were wrong. The fact is, the most significant event in this country in May of 1954 was Brown v. Board of Education, and what basically was happening, we youthful southern Presbyterian preacher-types were heading out to the parishes of the Southeast, largely, to walk into a major firestorm. Most of my generation's ministry has been forced to grapple with this thing. It was not until the public education structures became convincingly open to blacks that private structures conformed. There is an exception. The Presbyterian institutions and, I think, other institutions, too—I'm confident in terms of one or two Methodist institutions I know—did move rather quickly to open up to blacks and other racial ethnic representatives from overseas. It was kind of interesting. [laughter] If you were not an American, it was to your advantage at that point if you were black. It was one

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of those interesting moments of transition where Africans and others, Latin Americans and Asians, began to really open the doors, and then there came with that an inrushing of black students that I wish were larger than it is now, but at least it's fairly typical of religiously oriented colleges, seminaries, and secondary schools of the mainline churches that they are thoroughly open. In other words, the thing you find, say, in a Bob Jones, where there is a desire not to have contact between the races, is an exceptional thing within the religious institutions of this country. That's not the norm.
BRUCE KALK:
One further related question here is, I think, in many respects a continuing issue. That's the desegregation of congregations themselves, which is probably the slowest to come about. Could you comment on any progress towards that?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Yes, there is some progress toward that, but I would say also that we need to understand exactly what that represents. Religion is very close to identity. What we believe is very close to who we are. Therefore, when you're dealing in the matter of religious identification with a congregation or a denominational tradition, you're dealing with the close personal issues of identity and commitment, with the result that rather instinctively and naturally, this is not something that you come into and walk away from after five p.m. like a job, or that you can come into and sit in rows of chairs and so forth. This has to do with who you are, so that it tends to be a very personal decision that is not immediately affected by structural change. The second thing to be observed is, that's true for blacks as well as whites, so that what that means is, all during the post-slavery period—and, in fact, during slavery to some

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extent, but certainly the post-slavery period—and during the period of segregation, the black church was not only a place of personal identification, as it is for whites, but it was the only institution that really was theirs. It was something that they could say, "This is ours, and the man can't control this one," so that the black church is a very important institution in every southern community, in fact in every community.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Therefore, we're not going to find large numbers of blacks leaving a black institution that's been that important to their own personal identity and to their own corporate liberation. We're not going to find them moving into predominantly white congregations in great numbers and should not expect to. What is happening, there are two things. Some are coming. For instance, this congregation has 2,800 members. There are probably fifteen racial ethnic folks, including Asians, Africans, Latin Americans, and oh, about five black Americans, which is infinitesimal in a way. But nonetheless, this is very important, and the congregation has been right savvy about seeing that they get in places of influence so that their voice is heard, so we're not just talking to white middle and upper-middle-class folks when we're talking about the mission of the church. The other thing that is happening—and I think this is much more productive—is the linking up of churches, a predominantly black church and a predominantly white church programming together, worshipping together, doing the kinds of

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ministries that are possible in a city like this together. That, I think, is the most productive direction in the future.
BRUCE KALK:
What sorts of opposition did you experience within the Southern Presbyterian denomination over this racial issue?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Well, you know, in retrospect, I've been really very blessed by the fact that I was of the South and that my roots are in the South and that I lived in the South. Let me say that what that meant is that I could never go off somewhere and demonstrate my zeal for interracial relationships and then go back home and assume that I had done my thing. That's too easy a way out that affected the whole civil rights movement. It was too easy a movement. The fact is, in the South, when we marched we had to march on the courthouse that probably had some of our elders and deacons as its officials. We had to demonstrate against business establishments that were owned and operated by members of our congregations. Therefore, you had always to stay in touch with people with whom you disagreed, and in retrospect, that was a very salutary thing. That meant that there was no sort of quick fix. You had to very carefully work at what you did, and then you had to go and be sure relationships were still intact with those with whom you had been in opposition. Now that's hard to do, but that's what pastoral care is. It's like surgery a little bit. You need the surgeon to come in and lance the boil, but then somebody's got to change the dressing and see that the healing is done and so forth. And that's part of what was involved for those of us who were southern whites, is to not just lance the boil but to see to the healing that's involved. It's painful, but it's a very important discipline. And let me give

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an example from a different area. I found it very helpful to be pastor in Washington, D.C. during the early years of the protests against Vietnam, for the reason that I had on my session and diaconate and in our congregation a large number of people who worked at the Pentagon. In other words, the military establishment is pretty powerful in Washington, and here we were talking about that we have made a mistake in committing ourselves militarily in southeast Asia. Well, once again, you couldn't just paint a sign and say, "Hey, that's a mistake." You had to make that witness, but then you had to sit down with the very people whose job it was to implement the policy of military involvement in southeast Asia and try to think through, "How do we hold together in the life of faith and the community of faith? We disagree on this, but here's where I'm coming from. Where are you coming from?" That sort of thing. And I've always been grateful that I've never been able to be quick and easy and superficial about social issues. I've always had to sit down with people who disagreed with me and keep a relationship. I think that's an important reality in the southern church, that the change has come; it's been painful, it's been slow, but it's very authentic. You get a white southerner who's really dealt with his instinctive racism, and he or she has already dealt with racial feelings that the rest of the country doesn't even know it has.
BRUCE KALK:
How has your political liberalism shaped your status within the denomination? Did you feel or experience any isolation during the sixties by fellow clergymen?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Yes and no. I did feel some, yeah. There were some lonely years. But on the other hand, there was a growing realization

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on the part of people of conscience that change had to come, and, while they might not have been approving of this method or that, there was a general feeling of a need for change. The Fellowship of Concern that I mentioned to you before was probably influential here, in that it quickly became a kind of support group, so one was not isolated but had colleagues who came from the same tradition. The other thing to be said about that is that I am really from the South, as I've said. I've indicated that one of my ancestors was the first President of Davidson. Another ancestor was Stonewall Jackson's chaplain. I had family that fought all through the Civil War, a great-great-grandfather who was a moderator of the old Southern Presbyterian Church many years ago. In other words, I had impeccable Southern credentials, [laughter] and that helps. My father's position in terms of World Missions gave me a breadth of introduction that I shall always be grateful for, and I would oftentimes talk to Dad about that, that "I hope I'm not just using your influence," and he was delighted. He said, "What you're doing is directly related to what went on in World Missions." And then one more thing. You have to remember where I began, in terms of seminary and Scotland and A.M. Hunter and James Denney and all that. With all that civil rights involvement, I'm still basically a Biblical theologian. I'm still a teaching and preaching pastor, and I have seldom tried to preach any political solutions from the pulpit. My feeling about the pastoral responsibility is that in the pulpit and in the worship service, you help people to grapple with Moses and Amos and Jeremiah and Jesus, and you help them to see what the Word means for them and for their life and for their systems and their jobs and their structures.

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And then during the week, you try to demonstrate that in where you put yourself and your time. But I've tried to keep a right careful distinction there, so that in retrospect, I think that probably is how I have been able to continue as a minister in the Southern Presbyterian Church through all of that hurricane and, I hope, be helpful.
BRUCE KALK:
What key social issues are foremost now on the church's agenda? What social issues do you feel the church should be addressing right now?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I think the great issue before us right now is the whole matter of peace. Of all the issues we have, the implications of this one are so horrendous, in that we do clearly have the capacity to simply eliminate life on the planet. This means that this is not an elective; this is a mandatory moral issue, and we've got to find effective ways of reconciling the present hostility that's being exacerbated between the major powers. There are some things that flow from that. One is that peace grows in the soil of justice a whole lot more than it does in the soil of order, which is something that neither Washington nor Moscow seems to understand. That is to say, it is when you provide just structures and systems and affirm human life and human rights that you have the possibility of peaceful change, peaceful revolutions and so forth. If you insist on order only as a way to peace, you're going to make violent revolution inevitable, and therefore I think one of the consequent moral issues before us is this whole matter of justice and human rights, not only in this country but in this hemisphere and around the world. There are other issues that flow out of that, too. Hunger is a very basic moral issue, I think. There are people starving in a world in which

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there's plenty of food. That means that our systems of production and delivery and the economic implications of where we place our priorities are suspect. That's a genuine moral issue. The environment, the whole matter of a sensitivity to soft energy patterns, is a very important issue for us, because those are the kinds of things that precipitate despair and death and thus violent response and reaction, the sorts of things that build for terrorism and ultimately for annihilation. There are plenty of other issues that come at other matters before us. I think the whole matter of feminist concerns, the rights of women, is a basic revolution. I frankly think it's a more basic revolution than the racial revolution, because it affects every single home, and I think my five daughters have sensitized me in this area as much as anything else. I am delighted to find the doors that are open to them, and it just simply makes me realize they need to be more widely opened, and that's an unfinished battle. The whole issue of poverty in this country is very serious, and we're not working at it very well at all, I think. This whole business of hands off. Well, I could say a whole lot about the present administration's role, but I think it's mistaken, and I'm afraid it's going to have to get worse before the country sees that this is just simply… This is benign indifference that's causing people to suffer in ways that are simply not justifiable in the wealthiest country, probably, in the whole history of the world. There are a number of others, but that's enough catalog of issues. The thing about human life is that there are always such issues. You don't really solve these issues. The human predicament is such that you resolve an expression of the problem,

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and then you deal with the consequences that flow out of that resolution.
BRUCE KALK:
What specific moves can the church in general and the Presbyterian Church in particular take to address this social agenda?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I think the church ought to begin to take very seriously the fact that it needs to be in the business of peacemaking. And this is strange. For instance, the Presbyterian Church has never been known as a peace-loving church. I expect we probably historically have been the second most militaristic church in America. I expect the most militaristic church has probably been the Roman Catholic Church. We didn't bless the bombs and the guns the same way their priests and bishops did, but we carried them, all the way from the Revolutionary War forward. But there's something happening. It's subtle, it's quiet, but it's substantial. Catholics, Presbyterians, other mainline folks are beginning to take quite seriously the fact that peacemaking is a part of what we are about. We used to leave that to the Mennonites and the Quakers and the Brethren and so forth and be thankful somebody was doing it, you know, but we're suddenly coming to terms with the fact that "Wait a minute. The man in whom we believe was known as the Prince of Peace, and Jesus said Himself, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’ " And we haven't been doing much peacemaking. I think it's not just a matter of fear of nuclear annihilation, although, God knows, that's enough to fear. It's also a matter of faith, a matter of awareness that this is part of our faith that we've been silent to and blind to. But peacemaking is a very basic and revolutionary thing. If I'm to be a peacemaker, I've got to be a

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peacemaker in my own home. For instance, I don't get angry or moody with the Russians. I may not like the communist systems, but the persons who are likely to receive the animus of my real hostility are the members of my family. Peacemaking is just pervasive. We've got to be peacemakers in the community; we've got to be peacemakers in the state, in the region, in the nation, in the hemisphere, in the world. It involves a revolutionary change of priorities and of life. And it's happening, very slowly. Here in this Myers Park Presbyterian Church, a very establishment-oriented, predominantly white church here in Charlotte, we have a very active Peacemaking Council working. Tomorrow we go off on retreat with some fifty members of the congregation with a theologian from St. Louis, Missouri, on the whole matter of how you effectively mold your life toward peacemaking. That's significant. That's going to bear some fruit, because that's a new phenomenon.
BRUCE KALK:
Let me turn to the question of theology and ask you if you could explain the cornerstones of your personal theological convictions.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Yes. This coming Sunday I'm preaching a third sermon of three saying goodbye to my congregation, and I've chosen to preach from the Apostolic Benediction in Second Corinthians, where the letter is concluded, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." And that sums up very succinctly the cornerstones of my faith. My faith begins with this man who lived 2,000 years ago and who was a man for others and whose life demonstrated a grace, demonstrated an outwardness toward others that informs the whole of our existence.

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And the church, thus, has got to be a church for others, not because we think that's a good idea but because we follow a man who lived his life and died for others. The second founding stone is that second phrase, "the love of God." Last Sunday I was sharing my ideas about that and shared with them my feeling that this is a very important understanding, because the truth is that we live largely in a time of practical secularism, that if God exists, it really doesn't matter. It doesn't affect the way we go about our life and so forth. What I think faith says to that is summarized in part by the little girl in Sunday school who was asked about who was Jesus. Her reply was, "Jesus is the best picture God ever had took." Now that's where my faith goes. In other words, I look at this man Jesus, and I sense that what he was constantly doing, he was never pointing at himself; he was always pointing beyond himself, pointing at a power beyond. So that I think a foundation stone has to do with the understanding that God is, and God cares, "the love of God." This coming Sunday I'm going to conclude with "the fellowship of the Holy Spirit," which basically is that God is alive and at work and that our task in the church is to be open to which way is He leading in the world, where is He going, and follow, even at the cost of a cross. "The fellowship of the Holy Spirit" is a very empowering kind of thing for a Christian community, which Presbyterians are a little hesitant to deal with, because you can't quite control that sort of thing. We like things done decently and in order, but I think it's a very important reality that faith has to be lived out in the present tense, and that's what the whole business of the Holy Spirit is. So in a nutshell, you see, I'm pretty orthodox. I mean, that's Trinitarian faith, is what that is. It comes at it a

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little differently, but that's what I believe.
BRUCE KALK:
What would you say your connection is to a view of scriptural perspectives on human nature and the other-worldliness of redemption?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
The view of scripture I have is that it is… Well, Luther said it well. "Scripture is the cradle in which Christ lies." The reason scripture is important is in part because there we see the story of how God has called into being a people in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and you don't find that anywhere else. I don't worry about scripture, and I don't worry about such things as the inerrancy of scripture and all that sort of thing, for the reason that the scripture is exactly what the church has historically said it is, and that is, it's an unfailing guide in faith and life, because there you find the story of Israel and of Jesus and of the church. People who worry about attacks on the scripture or try to defend it and argue for its inerrancy and all that sort of thing remind me of frogmen who are worried about the hull of an old ship, lest it have a leak in it or something, when all the time, on the bridge of the ship, our Lord is saying basically, "Don't worry. Be not afraid, men of little faith. It will not sink. I am in the ship." The scripture power is a power because of the story it tells. It's the Word that's within the words that is the power. I think one of the problems I see in emerging militant fundamentalism is this whole matter of Biblical inerrancy. That will simply not hold water. That is not the way to go at scripture. Your question was longer than that. Where did you go from Biblical…
BRUCE KALK:
I was also interested in how your view of scripture had an impact on a scriptural perspective on human nature and the other-worldliness

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of redemption.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
The Bible makes very clear that it's got no hangups about the fact that man or humankind is perfected at all. It's a very clear understanding that the human dilemma is very serious. The predicament of human nature is clearly delineated in the scripture. And of all the doctrines that the church holds, the one doctrine that is absolutely provable and demonstrated every day is the doctrine of original sin, that is, that down in the roots of our being, even when we try to do something real good, we mess it up because of who we are. I believe clearly the Biblical understanding of the predicament of human nature, and I think the whole matter of redemption from that is the work of the Gospel. In other words, it's grace. We live, then, not by what we are able to accomplish; we live by accepting the free gift which God gives of life itself and of meaning to life which comes, from my perspective, out of reorienting ourselves away from ourselves into a purpose that's higher than ours and that basically comes from beyond us, which is what it means to believe in the Gospel.
BRUCE KALK:
Let me turn now to ask you if you could discuss the reunification of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches and your role in that reunification.
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
All my life, I've wanted our church to be reconciled. It never has made sense to me that we were a regional church, but when it really came home to me was when I went to Washington as a young pastor. Here I was in the nation's capital, trying to help my people to a national and international view of the issues of life, and we basically thought in terms of the sixteen southern states, which were our General Assembly. And so I made a decision as a young

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man, "If I ever get a chance to do something about that, I'm going to hit that," and I got that chance, providentially. When I was in Atlanta as pastor of Central Church, I was asked to be the Chair of the southern portion of the Joint Committee on Presbyterian Reunion. Along with a colleague, Bob Lamar of First Church, Albany, New York, he and I were the Co-Chairs of that committee for fourteen years.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
That was a fascinating experience. When I took that responsibility, I thought it would probably be right easy to do, because we were all part of the same family, same name, same basic faith, same understanding of ministry and so forth. But I learned a lot in that. One is, it's a lot harder to bring a family back together that's divided than it is to introduce total strangers to each other and help them become good friends. So it took almost a decade and a half, and it involved working through regionalism and fears and pride and some distinctions in terms of faith. It also involved, here in North Carolina particularly, a racial distinction, so it wasn't far removed from my other concern in that the United Presbyterian, or the so-called Northern Presbyterian, presence here was largely black, represented in such institutions as Johnson C. Smith here in Charlotte, Barber-Scotia up in Concord, etcetera. And the Presbyterian-U.S., the so-called Southern Church, was largely white and very strong in this state because of all the Scotch-Irish settlements that began much of North Carolina. So it was a matter of racial reconciliation as well as working out the ecclesiastical

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structures. In the process, what we really decided to do is seek to draw up the outlines that would be involved in a new kind of church, and ultimately, rather than just putting two institutions together, we sought to draw up those lines along which a new Presbyterianism could emerge in this country. I probably won't live long enough to see whether we were successful in that, but we're well begun, at least. We've redefined the church in this whole process in terms of mission and unity, the sort of things we are talking about, as being authentic parts of its ministry, and therefore its structure flows out of that. That's different for Presbyterians, because we've tended to define ourselves structurally, as most denominations do. And so we've taken a new look at Presbyterianism, and it's been fascinating to be part of that process. I want to just add one more thing. I think in some ways I had discovered in the process of that a spiritual truth. I'm a more spiritual person for having spent those fourteen years. I mean by that, inevitably in those sorts of things, you have to work through ecclesiastical politics and all that, and you get groups together to influence other groups and so forth, and I know how to do all that. But I discovered something in this thing, and that is that there were some conversions that took place on the way to reunion that I can't explain. And there were some people that changed their mind who had nothing to gain by changing their mind, and maybe something to lose. So that I walked away from this reunion pilgrimage with a feeling, "You know, the Lord of the church is interested in the unity of His church." And if you really try to be faithful to the spirit of God, there is power there, there is strength there. The reunion did not just represent the coming together of North and South, though it did that. It also represented the coming

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together of right and left; conservative evangelicals joined with ecumenical social activists to say, "We're all needed in this new church." And I'm grateful for that. I think it was a salutary healing of a divided family in many ways and very worthwhile, in retrospect one of the most satisfying things I've ever done.
BRUCE KALK:
What do you consider to have been the greatest substantive differences between the two denominations that you had to surpass in order for them to be reunited?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
The attitudinal change was the biggest thing. It wasn't substantive; it was a matter of approach. Basically pride on each part and fear of losing something from the reunion. The substantive issues were significant, though, and one was this whole matter of interracial inclusiveness. How do you put together the church in such a way that these small black congregations, say here in North Carolina, are not just simply swallowed up by the much larger predominantly white units? That's significant, and so we worked with a number of different efforts to try to resolve that in such a way that the authentic black experience is not just lost and absorbed. Another issue was the whole matter of the empowerment of women. The two churches were not at the same place on that, and how do you give assurance that there will be women as well as men on sessions and diaconates? How do you give assurance that there will be women in all levels of the church's life and so forth? And how do you relate that to congregations who've never had women on their sessions and so forth? So it's a matter of working through that process. Another issue that was quite substantial was, what's to be the confessional base of this church? Presbyterians are a faith-oriented people, and we like to articulate our faith.

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We like to write it out again and say it again. How are we going to do that? There were other issues that were less significant than those. One has to do with the whole style of church organization. The United Presbyterian Church, the so-called Northern Church, tended to work—this is an overstatement—from the top down. That is, General Assembly actions would filter down through synods or regional units down to presbyteries or local metropolitan units and then down to sessions and congregations. In the PC-U.S., the Southern Church, we tend to work from the bottom up. Neither of those is better than the other. Neither of those is righteous and the other wrong. They just are, and they come out of our sociological development. They come out of our history. The old Southern Church is an old church; it's been here from colonial times in a region of the country where there has not been major in-migration of population until the Second World War. So what you had were generations and generations of Presbyterians growing up knowing each other, kin to each other across state lines, family patterns being very significant and so forth. When General Assembly got together, you didn't pass mandatory language. You didn't come to the family reunion to say everybody's got to do something. What you did was, you jawboned and you negotiated and you compromised and you argued and you pointed out how Cousin So-and-so was doing this in the next county. Then finally you said, "All right now, let's everybody take two steps" in whatever direction it is that you've agreed to do. In the old UP Church, they were too big for that and too complex. It had been founded during waves of migration as we moved all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast. The Presbyterian Church in the Midwest is very different from the

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Presbyterian Church in the Northeast and vastly different from the church in the Southwest and Southern California and so forth. How are you going to get continuity there? Well, what you do is, you put out mandatory language. You say, "Everybody, let's take two steps to the left or right or whichever." And by and large everybody does it, but they don't like it. And the reason they don't like it is that nobody twisted their arm; nobody did all that homework that was part of the PC-U.S. So part of this was working through stylistic changes and fashioning a church where neither of those styles would be lost, because there's benefit in both, letting the national church stretch the local church, but also letting the local church make authentic, and give integrity to, what it is the national church wants to do. In addition, there were questions about where the headquarters would be, what about church property? Those sorts of things were minor but influential.
BRUCE KALK:
What theological or doctrinal differences had to be surpassed for the two churches to come together?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
I'd say basically none. There are some who would say there have been doctrinal differences, and historically there have been some historical differences. But what we found very quickly in our quest for reunion—we spent the first two years just interviewing people all over the whole country and discovering the diversity in both streams—was that there was more diversity within each of our churches than there was between us. The difference wasn't between us; the difference was within each of us. We had folks who were rigid inerrantists, fundamentalists; we also had people who were basically, well, across the whole spectrum, to a position not far

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removed from a Christ-conscious unitarianism. That diversity was in each stream, and so it was a question then of how do you reflect that diversity? There was a confessional difference in that the United Presbyterian Church had taken up a multi-confessional base in 1967, and the PC-U.S. Church had refused to do that and had held to a document from the seventeenth century called the Westminster Confession of Faith and its attendant documents. We were able to move through that, primarily in helping the new church to see what we need is a new statement of faith for our own day; rather than just inherit from the past, we need to take that tradition and articulate it for our own time. So there is a committee now at work on a brief statement of the reformed faith that will be before us for the next several years, and it's good for Presbyterians to start their pilgrimage together looking at what they believe.
BRUCE KALK:
What about the issue of, say, a public versus a private morality? I'm thinking in particular of the PC-U.S. Church, which was born in an attempt to separate the morality of the private sphere, the church per se, from the public morality of social issues of the day, and that church attempting to keep a distinction finely drawn between these two realms. How was this surpassed in a reunionification with the more socially active United Presbyterian Church?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
That's a very perceptive question. It's quite true that the PC-U.S. Church was born out of schism, out of a division in the nation itself, and the decision was to move out with the national division. It's too simplistic to say that slavery was the issue that separated the church, because, in fact, slavery did

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not separate the Presbyterian Church. It did divide the Baptists and the Methodists, but the Presbyterians held together until the nation itself split. Then the Southern Presbyterians gathered in Augusta, Georgia, in 1861 and formed the Presbyterian Church-Confederate States of America, arguing that there was a separate nation, and the typical structure for Presbyterians is along national lines. And so we formed this Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States. It lasted four years. Then we were one nation again. It's interesting that the issues that were so compelling in '61 that we needed to use national boundaries did not strike the fathers of the church as quite as compelling in '65 and '66 when they came back together and we were part of one nation and would normally have said, "Well, we'll be a part of this national body again." Because by then two things had happened. One is regional hostility. The War broke families up and turned brother against brother and so forth. But the other is the very point you're making, that the Southern Christian Church was faced with the issue of how do you deal with schism and slavery? The issue they were struggling with is how do you keep men and women as slaves and keep Jesus Christ as Lord at the same time? And the only way you can do that intellectually is to divide the world up. There are personal and private matters, and there are social and political and economic matters, and religion falls in the private sector, and economics, involving slavery, falls in the public sector. It's affected the Southern Baptist Church; it's affected the old Southern Methodist Church; it's affected our Southern Presbyterian Church. All mainline denominations in the South struggled with the same thing, and they developed a spirituality-of-the-church understanding.

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That is, the church ought to limit itself to spiritual things. And that has been very strong in the Southeast up until about the Second World War, and I believe in part it was the in-migration of new people who began to settle in the South in the fifties, and then came the civil rights movement, which had a far more pervasive and deeper effect in the South than it did elsewhere. You couldn't go off and demonstrate; you had to do it in terms of authentic priorities of your own life. It's very interesting, Bruce, that Presbyterian reunion was voted on before, in 1954, and failed. The Brown v. Board of Education decision was in 1954, and the whole movement toward social involvement of the churches as well as other structures of society began. I think one of the reasons reunion passed in '83, when it had failed in '54, was not just the passage of time; it was what had happened to the nation and particularly to the South in that period of thirty years, almost, between the two. We cleansed our souls of this heresy of the spirituality of the church, and we began to come clean on the fact that if you're going to be a Christian, you've got to be a Christian not only in private life but in public life as well, and it's got to affect not only the way you pray but the way you deal with people in your business and the way you deal with the political realities of your time.
BRUCE KALK:
The issue of the reunification of the two Presbyterian churches relates very much to the greater ecumenical movement visible in Protestantism today. Could you comment, perhaps, on what directions the ecumenical movement is going in? What do you see as its future?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
The ecumenical movement is healthy and well. Right now we're going through an interesting period where the families are

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finding each other. Presbyterians are a good example. The Lutherans are an equally good example. They're coming together and bringing three Lutheran denominations together. The Methodists have already been through this. But we're in conversation across these traditional family lines in a variety of different ways. Probably the most far-reaching is the matter of the Consultation on Church Union, so called COCU, which involves ten different denominations. It's still a dream, but we're talking about covenants of relationships with each other in which we mutually recognize one another's membership and ministries, and we begin to share jointly in liturgy and in the sacraments. There's another thing that's happened in the whole matter of ecumenism that is very important, and that is that the Roman Catholic Church is going through a revolution. Ever since Vatican II, there's been a new ecumenical spirit in the world. One way of seeing it is, I think, that the Reformation is still continuing. It didn't stop in the sixteenth century or the seventeenth century; it continues, and we're still in the process of being reformed, all of us, Roman as well as Reformed. That just breaks open everything. I grew up in an age when Roman Catholics and Protestants didn't have friendly dealings with each other. I'm going out to San Francisco to a seminary that's one of nine seminaries in a consortium where they share faculty, students, and everything. Six of those seminaries are Protestant, and three are Catholic, and as the church historian, a fine scholar, told me, "It makes a great deal of difference when you … [Interruption] " It makes a great deal of difference how they teach the Protestant Reformation of the fifteenth and sixteenth century when

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a fourth of your class are Roman Catholics studying for the priesthood." You see, you can't just beat up on the Pope and tell all the good stories about our founding fathers. You have to be absolutely frank about the fact that it was a mixed scene. It was a political and economic as well as a religious phenomenon and came in tandem with the Renaissance and all the rest of that. That's a so much healthier way of study. I'd say right now it's hard to predict where we're going ecumenically. I have a feeling that it takes a little while for any of these unions to jell. It takes at least a decade to live through the restructuring and all that that's involved in one of these things, so I don't see any rush, for instance, out of the Presbyterian reunion to move quickly to some new ecumenical venture. But this new Presbyterian Church is thoroughly committed to an unknown ecumenical future and has testified in its new Book of Order that we are willing to be led into whatever structures the Holy Spirit leads us to. That's a very non-traditional and open and hopeful kind of prospect.
BRUCE KALK:
Could you comment briefly on the resurgence of Protestant evangelicalism in the form of the contemporary born-again movement, particularly its strength in the Presbyterian church?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
It is a phenomenon, and there are reasons for it. One is that we live in a very complex age. Some of the issues we've talked about of peace and justice and so forth are very complicated, almost insoluble problems. Thus, it's an era in which it's very satisfying to find simple answers, to find concrete answers to complex issues. If you can say, "This is the Word, this is the Way, you must follow this. Follow me, and I will lead you to truth," you're going to get a following in a time when everybody is scared. So part of

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this is personal reaction to social fear. It's more complicated than that, though. I think the mainline churches have probably been inconsiderate of conservative evangelical members for the past several decades. In part, throughout the nineteenth century, there was only a kind of conservative evangelical tradition. It was only with the twentieth century that there emerged a new sense of openness to alternate approaches, a breadth of search for truth, social involvement, activism, and an emphasis on praxis or practice rather than upon theory and theology. The result of that has been that for the past probably three decades, conservative evangelicals have felt marginalized in most of the mainline churches. There is a new sense of militancy on their part, basically saying, "We want a piece of the action. We want some influence in this." And that's what we have been finding in the Presbyterian Church, that partly what happened in union was that we found each other across a divide where we really weren't speaking very effectively to each other before. There's one other thing, in addition, and that is the whole church growth movement, which is a sociological phenomenon. During these past decades, what's also emerged is some of the human sciences have become much more sophisticated. The whole matter of how you communicate with people, how you use the media effectively, all that sort of thing. What makes for growth in a corporate structure of human beings is affecting the church, because what we know now sociologically is that simplistic answers do make for growth; complex questions do not. Churches that are trying to grapple with issues like justice and women's rights and world hunger and so forth have got to face a new phenomenon, and that is that that's hard to

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communicate simply over the TV, and it's very hard to get people to get in massive groups to attend to. So conservative evangelicals, who are less disposed to deal with those complexities—and that's not pejorative; that's just historically where their position has been—have taken to the media with a great deal more effectiveness and have taken to larger churches and growing churches with a good bit more effectiveness. Now there's a helpful shift taking place. The conservative evangelical community itself is becoming much more socially conscious. There's an organization in Washington called Sojourners that's headed up by authentic conservative evangelicals. They are on the forefront of this whole peace movement. They are on the forefront of questioning the Administration's position on Central America and so forth. It's one of those things where there's change taking place on both sides of the ideological spectrum, but I think the reasons for the growth that's been remarkable on the right is in part what I've just said.
BRUCE KALK:
And how significant a part of the Presbyterian Church would you say the evangelical movement constitutes?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
It's hard to put numbers there, but I'd say it's very significant. Without knowing what the percentage is, I'd say it's very significant. This is part of the result of my pilgrimage on reunion: I think it very important. I think it's authentic. I want them involved. I think they help correct a shallow activism that is instinctive to those of us who are oriented toward justice issues. We are very quick to find satisfaction in being able to change the structures. We need to be reminded by our brothers and sisters that when you change the structures, you still have not changed the nature

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of the people who live and implement those structures, and so you're still dealing with the old human dilemma and the predicament of human history and the problem of sin. So each needs the other to keep it honest and to make it authentic.
BRUCE KALK:
A number of mainline denominations' theological seminaries have come increasingly under the dominance of conservative evangelicalism. Even the Episcopal Church now has a seminary that is dominated almost entirely by evangelicals. Is that becoming the case in the Presbyterian Church in any sense? Are there any seminaries that are oriented almost exclusively towards the evangelical wing of the church?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
No, it has not happened yet, and I don't think it's likely to happen. What, unfortunately, has happened in the Presbyterian Church is primarily that a number of Presbyterian students are going to non-Presbyterian schools. For instance, on the West Coast, where I'm going, Fuller Theological Seminary down in Pasadena, in the Los Angeles area, is an independent evangelical theological seminary, and it has a large number of Presbyterian students. Our Presbyterian seminary, San Francisco Seminary, has tended to be a very progressive and ecumenical and open and broad-gauged and liberal seminary. There's a sense in which these two seminaries have sparred with each other on the West Coast. In part, my going to San Francisco is to try to bridge that gap. When I was Moderator of the church, I spent a day in San Francisco with that seminary, but I spent two days in Pasadena with the Fuller faculty, because I really wanted to know that phenomenon and figure out who those people are. And they're good people, and we've got to

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get beyond just sort of being polarized. But there are independent seminaries, in the Boston area, in the Philadelphia area, elsewhere, that are draining off some of the candidates that come from our more evangelical conservative congregations. That's the way it's affecting Presbyterian theological education.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
BRUCE KALK:
If you could discuss what you feel is the state of the art now in reformed theology. You're going to San Francisco Seminary to serve as its President; you've been Moderator of the reunited Presbyterian Church. What do you feel, with your experiences, is really the state of the art now?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
In terms of local pastoral leadership, or in terms of theological education? In terms of theological education. Well, I'll know a whole lot more about the answer to this question a year from now than I know right now. I have never been a president of a theological seminary, and I never thought of myself as that. I'm a journeyman parson, as John Wesley called himself, and I've always thought of myself as a preaching pastor. But I'll tell you what I bring to the conversation when I move into theological education. It is, first of all, a commitment to tough theological and psychological and sociological disciplines. I think we've got to recognize that the seminaries are the seedbed of the ideas of the church, and in some ways are the seedbed for ideas of value in the community. They are charged with the responsibility to think hard about the global issues that are affecting us all. A second thing I believe is that

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they've got to think in terms of function, and their function is to produce persons who will be the practitioners of ministry in local congregations, as well as others. They'll produce teachers and other things, but basically what they're in the business of doing is producing preaching pastors, which is partly why I'm going into it, to see if maybe we can't transfer to a new generation an authentic sense of the value of this particular form of ministry, because it's very important. Those pastors have got to learn some things. They've got to know how to deal with the Bible; they've got to know how to translate that in terms of modern idiom into the life and thought frames. But they've also got to know how to build community. The church is one of the few institutions in society that's really working at community. It's not pulling people apart; it's trying to bring them together. These pastors are going out to be the builders of community. You can't teach that in books; you have to experience community in order to be able to know what it is that you're out there trying to build. So that a seminary needs not only to be a stiff academic discipline and a functional kind of preparation for persons who have got a task that's quite specific and has demands that are definable, but it's also a community that's producing the builders of community. And so the relationships in a seminary, in a theological education, are very important, far more important, say, than in a law school, where you're preparing adversaries. If you're producing community-builders, then you've got to have something that makes community part of their experience. I'd say another is that it ought to be ecumenical, and I'm so glad most of our Presbyterian seminaries are tied to some other institution, some other denomination, some other tradition.

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I've already indicated how important that is in San Francisco. I just think that's of the essence. And the other thing I would add is that it ought to have some global orientation; it ought to have some international orientation. Nesbitt says in Megatrends that one of the major trends is to think globally and to act locally. I think that's really fundamental to the life of the church. That's really what the church ought to be doing. In fact, that's what we're all going to be doing, but the church ought to have been out there anyway doing that, because it's a global institution, it's a global family that's got to put all that down on the corner of Main Street and First in a little community of believers. What that means is that you've got to think globally and act locally. I rejoice in the fact, for instance, that in San Francisco we are part of the Pacific Basin of Theological Schools, 140 theological seminaries, which I find hard to believe, but that's all up and down the West Coast, Latin America, to the islands of the Pacific and throughout Asia. That's very significant. That means there's a Third World person teaching on the faculty at all times, and that's just great because the world is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. When the world was large, people could afford to be small, get by with it because of the fences. But as the world gets small, people have got to get big.
BRUCE KALK:
Lastly, let me ask you what is ahead for you as you leave Charlotte to go to San Francisco to take the presidency of a seminary. What do you think lies ahead for your future?
J. RANDOLPH TAYLOR:
Well, I think some homesickness. [laughter] We're going to miss North Carolina, though, as I've already indicated, we'll be back on special occasions, and our family will gather here at

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Christmastime and in the summers. What I really anticipate, going out there, is that I'm going to be stretched in new ways. We had just built this house up outside Montreat and were settling into this area, and it's been my experience that whenever you start nesting like this, the Lord has a way of coming along and kicking you out of the nest and saying, "I'm going to see if you still know how to fly." So here we go. I'm going to find out whether I know how to fly in a different arena. I'm going to be pushed at several points in terms of new dimensions of the meaning of ministry. The Professor of New Testament out at San Francisco is a very fine woman. She said to me as we were talking with the faculty about this possibility, "I believe, as I've read about your ministry and so forth, you've always been challenged from the right. If you come here, you may find that you're challenged from the left." Well, I think she's probably on target, and I look forward to that. I think it would be interesting to see whether I can maintain the best in the tradition, to be the traditionalist in a community, to try to help others to see how valuable that tradition is. That's to grow in a new direction. I've always been the one pushing the tradition in other ways. But I believe probably I'm going to find that I am committed and interested in fewer and fewer things, and I'm committed and interested in them at a much deeper level. That translates out into trying to put down authentic roots, not only for me individually but also for that institution and for theological education in the reunited church, that will be important. What I hope it will do also is, it will open some doors. What it signals is that it really is a reunited church, that the old barriers are no

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longer there, that a southerner doesn't have to stay in the South; you can minister anywhere God calls you to. So I'm hopeful that it's a signal of hope to the reunited church that the barriers are down, and the ministry we share is to the whole nation.
END OF INTERVIEW