Late Tuesday afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama, the PCUSA officially broke covenant with its Presbyterian roots and its churches who still cling to those roots. When it passed the Peace, Unity, and Purity report essentially unchanged, it broke covenant in at least three ways:
1. It changed its historical practice of one denominational set of standards for ordination to variable local standards. The PCUSA is now a congregational denomination.
2. The PCUSA rejected clear, important Biblical injunctions on sexual behavior in order to adjust to our culture’s standards. "Sola Scriptura" has become "Via Vulgaris."
3. The PCUSA has placed itself into an Orwellian doublespeak position of maintaining (on paper) the standard of “fidelity in marriage, chastity in singleness,” while clearly giving the go-ahead to say that a standard is not a standard.
I had the chance, following the vote, to visit with many people in the various conservative renewal groups. Some are claiming “victory,” since there was a minor alteration in one paragraph, and because the GA did not strike down G-6.0106b (the “chastity and fidelity” clause).
On the first they are, I believe, deluded. The whole point of the PUP report has been to start a new “experiment” in being the church; an experiment that allows for the ordination of practicing homosexuals and, inevitably, the encouragement and endorsement of same-sex marriages. On the second, retaining G-6.0106b is irrelevant since local option negates it.
People are openly speaking of what was once whispered: will we leave the denomination? This certainly is one of several considerations before every evangelical, conservative congregation. There needs to be some time for the dust to settle, though, before such decisions are made.
I met this evening with my friends in New Wineskins. First on our agenda was how to encourage people to come to the Kirk in July for our convocation. We desire, at that time, to have full and frank discussions of the options before us. One of our greatest concerns is for those congregations whose pastors and elders have not kept them up-to-date on what has been going on in our denomination, much less what happened today. Another is for those pastors and members in congregations that are split over these issues.
We believe that we need to make clear decisions soon, but in a context that will allow these other congregations time to consider what is now before us. I have always said that the Kirk will never be a maverick congregation, going off somewhere on its own. That is still true. The essence of Presbyterianism is being connected as a body. The fact that the PCUSA has effectively rejected this is no reason for us to operate alone.
The convocation in mid-July will be a time for consideration of all the above in a timely fashion. While what has happened is, in my mind, terrible, God never wastes anything. He will take this event and use it to His glory. My prayer is that we stay faithfully one step behind the Lord.
Keep the faith,