Religion: Dispute over the Deity off Christ

The United Presbyterian Church is disunited over a heresy case

It all started at a routine meeting of delegates from Presbyterian congregations around Washington in 1979. On the agenda was the application of United Church of Christ Minister Mansfield M. Kaseman for Presbyterian credentials so he could serve as a clergyman in the Rockville (Md.) United Church, which belongs both to Kaseman's U.C.C. and the United Presbyterian Church.

During the meeting, the affable Kaseman was asked whether he believed Jesus Christ is God. "No," he responded, "God is God." Kaseman was accepted by a majority. But that answer stirred deep alarm in...