Monday, July 10, 2006

It's Time to Speak Up

At the 1978 GA in San Diego I distinctly remember the proponents of a progressive view on homosexuality and homosexual ordination assuring us that they would not regard opposition to homosexual lifestyle as homophobic. I also remember that the issue involved only gays and lesbians (GLs).

Fast forward to today and we hear that, if we are opposed to same-sex marriage, we are homophobic. And it’s not just about gays and lesbians anymore. It’s about GLBTs (so far).

Had such a change occurred over one or two years, the majority of the church would have arisen in righteous protest. But it’s happened one small step at a time. Now we’re thrilled that the last GA wasn’t as bad as we expected. We celebrate “victories” like “receiving” a report on the Trinity instead of adopting it. We add a few words to a contentious PUP paragraph and then put our hope in the Stated Clerk’s opinion or some vague PJC decision in the future.

That opinion will be able to be interpreted to the favor of all sides. We’ll sift through the minutiae of the PJC reports and hold up whatever hopeful scraps we find as a sign to hang on.

Pastors of churches large and small are thankful that they’ve not spoken out on these issues, or that the press coverage is slight, because that means they won’t face a reaction from their congregations. Such thinking avoids the fact that their congregations’ reactions might be truly righteous and timely.

It’s time to recognize the truth: the PCUSA not going to get better without radical intervention, and that soon.

This debate isn’t an argument over social standards. We’re talking about people’s eternal souls and subsequent eternal condition. In the off chance that the Bible might be true, the message is that an unrepentant life or lifestyle leads not to heaven but to hell. It’s not popular to say that, but it was said long before our time by people illuminated not by opinion, but by the very Spirit of God.

What should we traditionalists demand of our denomination? Just the Biblical minimum.

1. Call all people to repentance. If the Bible identifies a sin and people persistently describe that act as “not sin,” they must be graciously confronted with the truth. This means that cannot call any sin a legitimate “exception.”
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:10)

2. If repentance is refused there must be discipline. Those who will not live by Scripture must leave the fellowship.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12, 13)

3. If the denomination will not call for repentance, or demand discipline, then we must separate ourselves from it.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

The current trend is for us traditionalists to sign public statements, withhold funding, rearrange how we’re organized, or set up our own mission agency. These may be fine things on their own, but they historically haven’t made any difference. We have to move from talking about Biblical holiness to demanding it from ourselves and our leaders. If that is not forthcoming, we must disassociate from the PCUSA because it has first disassociated itself from being a Biblical church.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom is absolutely right. It is the time for intervention. We face a constitutional crisis like never before in our history.

Can we not see what is happening to the Episcopal Church? Can we not look at the history of liberal Christianity and its blurring of moral precepts and doctrine and see that today only 12% of American Protestants are in mainline denominations (17 million out of 135 million)? This is the great legacy of liberal Christianity!

I find it deplorable that our General Assembly considers renaming the Trinity. One website did a contest to see what new names could be offered. Some suggestions were: "Rock, Scissors and Paper" and "Larry, Moe and Curly". Oh yes, let's not forget that we voted to legalize medical marijuana.(Huh?) Who can forget our now famous 1993 conference on reimagining God as our "Mother Sophia" and the "milk and honey communion service" that was part of that debacle?

Those looking for help from the establishment of a new foreign missions group need to recall history: that is exactly what J. Gresham Machen did prior to his being asked to leave the denomination and having his ordination revoked. Brothers and sisters, we stand on the verge of such things happening all over again. We can no longer go on sweeping this thing under the carpet. The only Biblical answer is repentance and a renewed submission to the authority of the Scriptures. Unless we get that it is hopeless to continue down the road we're on now.

Mark Hildebrand said...

Tom:

This morning I reflected on the book of Jude. How relevant it is to our current situation with the PCUSA.

We are called to "earnestly contend" for the faith. That those who "cause divisions" and are "worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit" are like a "hidden reef" that can shipwreck the unattentive believer.

Jude charges us to:
1. build ourselves up in faith
2. pray in the Holy Spirit
3. wait anxiously for God's mercy
4. have mercy on the doubting
5. rescue some from the fire of sin

Thank you, Tom, for leading our flock with Godly, scriptural guidance. I know that many are standing up with you. We are not afraid.

Mark