Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are we in the same PCUSA?

I am still trying to measure my thoughts and feelings since yesterday’s vote to approve PUP. I looked at the comments on this blog and found one that said,

“Are you in the same PCUSA I'm in? Are you at the same GA?”

Obviously, this pastor feels that nothing has changed. Looking on his blog site, I found, repeatedly, “None of our ordination standards have changed.” Technically, this is correct. In fact, it is not. What has changed is our constitution, in that what has been deemed essential is now optional for any presbytery, synod, or session.

If you don’t believe this, consider the following. After the vote, ALL of the organizations pushing for gay ordination and same-sex marriage expressed views similar to the one from the Covenant group: “the General Assembly has called the church to a higher standard of life together."

Conversely, ALL of the conservative groups who have been fighting gay ordination and same-sex marriage issued a joint statement that includes the following: "These ordaining bodies have been told that they need not obey the explicit instruction of the apostles: that all Christian believers should “abstain from… sexual immorality” (Acts 15:29)

Believe me, if this is the case, SOMETHING HAS CHANGED! No one needed to change ordination standards when ALL standards have been changed.

What effect will this change have? Setting aside the sexuality issue, we have a crisis in polity. Presbyterians have always believed that if one is ordained in or for one church, that person is ordained for the Church. Trusting in this, we accept pastors from different presbyteries with a minimum of investigation, and elders and deacons as they change churches with almost no investigation. In the immediate future, some presbyteries will use one standard for approving the ordination of pastors, other presbyteries still a different standard. Congregations will elect elders and deacons with one set of perceived rules, making it dangerous to assume that an elder moving to another congregation should or could serve there.

This is why I and others are saying that our denomination has broken covenant. It is no longer inherently Presbyterian, no matter how much anyone protests that “nothing has really changed.

In answer to this pastor/blogger’s question, “We may be in the same denomination, but we are miles apart.


Mark Hildebrand said...

I went to the presbyterian pastor blogsite as well. I feel that we would be accurate is asking the same question in return. This is the difficulty when we frame our beliefs by "feeling", rather than by facts. I may not "feel" comfortable in all that I read in scripture, in fact it often steps on my toes! Yet I must acknowledge its truth, or my life is based on a moving target...on shifting sand, so to speak. Our presbyterian government must be held in similar respect, or chaos will reign as we now see.

We will continue to pray for unity, yet not compromise on truth.


The Devil's Advocate said...

I didn't get a chance to follow this step by step, instead I got hit with the whole lot at once... It was a load to swollow from the General Assembly. Unfortunately I can't say I'm surprised, little as I know about the details of the situation. My only question is what is the next step for us? The Kirk and New Wine Skins and all the other Presbyterian Churches who are still going by the Bible not what 'feels right'.

~Heather Underwood

PS Somehow my sign in name seems very, very ironic for this particular topic.