Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm Baa-ack!

I've had a little time to refect on what transpired at GA, as well as what's going on in other renewal groups and at home at the Kirk. The dust is beginning to settle, but what I see is still a bit confusing.
There are two views on what the GA approved with the PUP report. Some presbytery officials, and our national ones, are saying that "nothing's changed." At best, such a statement is obfuscating by telling half the truth. We did not formally amend our constitution so, on the surface of things, it hasn't changed. But what PUP did was to change radically how we interpret our constitution. There is no question in my mind--or in the minds of others on both sides of this issue--that the approval of the PUP report will now allow the ordination of practicing gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and trans-sexuals.
People like me believe that the denomination has gone too far--way to far. My feelings are shared by pastors of centrists churches like Highland Park in Dallas (Ron Scates), and our largest congregation, Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta (Vic Pentz). Those on the gay-approving side see this as a step forward, but too small of a step. While it will allow the ordaining of some gays, it is not going to be in all presbyteries.
In response to this, conservatives have aligned with one of three groups (which are not mutually exclusive). There is the Global Mission group that will be meeting in Atlanta in August. This group seems to be encouraging people to stay in the denomination nominally, but begin to act separately in mission. Its advertised meeting looks like many of our past Coalition meetings. Another group is calling people to affirm constitutional behavior. What this will accomplish toward denominational change is not immediately apparent.
The third group is New Wineskins. Some are calling us (I'm on its board) schismatic and divisive because we've had the courage to publically raise the question everyone is thinking: "Should we stay in the denomination or leave?" Asking the question is not taking the action. New Wineskins will discuss all of our alternatives in July at our national meeting, held at the Kirk. We are asking people to join in prayer for all of the days preceding the meeting. I've asked those of you who attend the Kirk to pray every morning, noon, and night for our denomination, the Kirk, and the convocation.
Keep the faith,
Tom

4 comments:

Jason said...

I am sure I speak for all of the Kirk's overseas missionaries when I say we are all praying for you. The Kirk is a phenomenal church because it has remained true to God's Word. While we can strive to be more relevant in our approach, we should never bend scripture to fit the whims of a depraved society. We are all standing by you and trust in the Lord to direct our course.

Mark Hildebrand said...

Tom:
The memebership of the Kirk is just now beginning to understand the enormity of the attack upon our Presbyterian foundations. Last night's passionate statements by many of our founding members, fearing that we might leave the denomination, reveal that they do not perceive that the denomination is leaving us.

I am most concerned that that those who voted for local option to allow them to do as they pleased (despite the clear violation of Scripture and the Book of Order), will not stop until they extort validation for their actions from the rest of the denomination.

Keep the faith. "The battle is not yours, but God's" (2Chronicles 20:15)

Classical Presbyterian said...

I am new to your blog, but would appreciate your keeping the posts about the future of the NWI coming!

I personally cannot stand with the NWI at this time, as I am a traditional Westmninster Calvinist, but I do support the NWI effort to form a more faithful system.

I will be anxious to see what comes from the NWI meeting this July.

May God bless your efforts on behalf of Christ and His Kingdom!

Richard L. Jones said...

My wife and I were blessed to be in attendance on the 25th as first time visitors to the Kirk. Since we had never been to the Kirk, we weren't quite sure what to expect. We came to the Kirk that morning, we believe, by the leading of the Holy Spirit. I had spent some time reading all about the NWI from the Kirk's website, and although I come from a charismatic background I found myself in complete agreement with the NWI's doctrinal position, their purpose and mission. But even after reading and agreeing with the NWI, I wasn't sure what to expect on my first visit to this wonderful congregation.

After being brought down from the contemporary service to hear about your trip to the GA, and your response to the events that took place there, both my wife and I were certain God had placed us there to hear your empassioned plea for sound Biblical doctrine in the midst of those who are turning away from the truth and surrendering to their own desires and lusts. I later spoke with you for a brief time at the One Nation Under God event about your passion for truth and sound biblical doctrine. I mentioned to you how your current issues reminded me of the great chasm that existed within the Presbyterian Church of Ireland in the early 1800's between those who were not enduring sound doctrine by being led astray into the heresy of an Arian theological viewpoint which denied the full diety of Christ, and those who were holding fast to the orthodox trinitarian doctine. This orthodox stance was championed by the Rev. Henry Cooke who argued that the heart of the Christian faith was at stake. (Sound a bit familiar to the current situation?)

In his book titled Our Irish Presbyterian Heritage, professor Finlay Holmes of the Union Theological College wrote: A series of tremendous confrontations between the two parties took place at the annual meetings of synod in 1827, 1828, and 1829. The Rev. Henry Montgomery, the leader of the Arian party, who was a minister of Dunmurray and headmaster of the English school in the Belfast institution, an urbane and cultivated man, took his stand on the principle of non-subsciption and doctrinal pluralism. He insisted that statements of doctrine - creeds or confessions - were unscriptural and unsatisfactory tests of Christian faith; that, in enforcing belief in the Divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity (which are inter-related, Father, Son, Holy Spirit sharing the same divine nature), the synod was imposing man-made formulae upon its members and making mere opinion the test of faith.

Finlay Holmes later went on to write: Undoubtedly the conflict did center at certain points on the oratorial duels of these two formidable debaters but the view that it was merely a personal contest ignores the vital doctrinal questions which were at issue.

Of course later, the Rev. Henry Cooke convincingly swayed the synod toward the othodox view of the Trinity and steered the Presbyterian church back into sound doctrinal teachings. As professor Holmes states: Irish Presbyterianism did leap forward and experience new vitality in the 19th century and it was widely believed this was due to the victory of orthodoxy and the new evangelical spirit which made that victory possible. (These things) gave Irish Presbyterianism a new coherence and strength and strengthened still further the conservative character of its theology and churchmanship in the 19th century.

Right now Dr. Tom, you and the Kirk, along with the other members of the NWI face the very same issues that the Presbyterian church in Ireland faced 180 years ago, and that is the influence of false doctrine to the extent of being heresy. What you must decide is whether or not to take a strong stand and fight for orthodox Biblical theology within the context of the Presbyterian Church USA, or to continue holding fast to correct doctrine outside the constraints of the PCUSA. It may just be that God is willing to give them over to their debased minds, or it just might be that God is looking ahead to the battle and is empowering you and the NWI just as He did the Rev. Henry Cooke 180 years ago to take a stand for the truth of His Word so that His will for the vision and destiny of the PCUSA can be fulfilled.

We will be praying fervently for you, the Kirk, and for the PCUSA, that your God ordained destinies be fulfilled. We will also pray for you and the Kirk to be strengthened for the road that lies ahead. We know after attending the service on the 25th that your steps are being ordered of the Lord.

With all love and respect in Him.