Saturday, October 28, 2006

Now That's a Presbytery Meeting!

I am sitting, as I write this, in the presbytery meeting of the Presbytery of the Midwest, Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Once again, Wayne and I are impressed with the openness of the people in the presbytery. We are doubly impressed with their knowledge and use of Scripture. We rejoiced in their heart-felt prayers.

This morning we've been observing the examination of candidates for ministry. Unlike our previous experiences, this denomination does a rigorous examination on the floor of presbytery. Candidates must answer specific questions from and about Scripture. One candidate was asked to give a detailed outline (verbally, without notes) of the Gospel of Matthew (someone else asked him to outline the book of Revelation). Another candidate was asked to respond with theological depth on points from the Westminster confession. Each candidate was asked questions of doctrine and where they, if they did, disagreed with any point. As long as disagreement was not on one of the essentials, that disagreement was met with grace.

I was particularly impressed by the fact that the candidates answered all questions of doctrine with supporting Scriptures (from memory). Each one of them had not only done their homework, but had taken to heart Reformed teaching and, most importantly, the Bible.

Last night we heard the candidates preach in a wonderful worship service. The music was contemporary, thoughful, and Christ-centered. Even though I prefer traditional worship, I felt completely at ease and enjoyed the presence of God therein. We also appreciated the genuine fellowship and acceptance of us at this meeting.

We also heard some of the hurt that congregations like ours have encountered. Two churches besides us were there to observe as part of our process of seeking admission to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The other two churches were/are in the system, having asked for dismissal, as opposed to our action of disaffiliation. They both had horror stories of how their churches were treated in this process. Both of their presbyteries had, verbally and in writing, clamed to desire an amicable process, but it didn't turn out that way.

In one church's case, shortly after they'd asked for dismissal the presbytery formed an administrative commission and informed the congregation that they were officially "in schism." The net result of this was the presbytery taking control of the church.

The other congregation told a different story. What was unique to their story was that the presbytery slowed down the process so much that members who opposed staying in the PCUSA left for non-denominational churches in frustration. One of their elders told me that they were in negotiation for 20 months, thee weeks, and fourteen hours. They met witht the presbytery negotiation team every three weeks. Early on they felt that they had a fair offer and took it back to the congregation for approval. This turned out to be a pattern because, each time when they returned, the presbytrery added a condition to the deal that was unacceptable. As the process strung out, members, particularly the younger ones, simply left.

Having heard these sad stories, though, there was a balance from the joy they felt at joining with a denomination that is not only more gracious, but also firmly centered and set upon the Word of God.

Wayne and I will be examined for potential membership on October 31. There will be further meetings with our session and pastors in the next couple of months. The earliest we could be admitted would be in January. It is more likely that we will be admitted in April. Both the EPC and the Kirk continue the process of mutual examination until then.

Keep praying--keep the faith,
Tom

36 comments:

D Hile said...

Just a minor correction...

I believe you must have visited the EPC's Presbytery of Mid-America. There is a Presbytery of the Midwest in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, but our meeting is not until next month.

May God bless you and your church.

TomGray said...

Dear d hile,
Sorry--I'm just getting the hang of these things. I hope that your presbytery is as good as Mid-America.
Tom

NetProphet said...

JC,

You said in a earlier blog that,

" the EOP has offered to sit down and do a settlement, a gracious one at that, "

Please enlighten us to where you got that important piece of information? If you are not part of Louisville, or legal counsel for the EOP, how would get such inside information since PCUSA policy for discussion regarding matters of property and legal matters are considered confidential and non-disclosed.

See PCUSA website, OPEN MEETING POLICY, section (3)

In certain circumstances, when the confidentiality of the subject matter is impeding the open work of the group, its meetings may be closed. These requirements apply:
a. Subjects dealt with must be limited to property negotiation, personnel, civil and criminal litigation, or security.

I am surprised that an astute attorney as yourself would make such an erroneous statement on a public forum without first stating your source of information!!

I would feel sorry for the few clients you counsel, if your statements on this blog are any indication of your prowess and effectiveness as a lawyer.

JC said...

Netprophet,

This, like all other issues involved in this sordid affair, will become clear in time.

And, as far as my many clients are concerned, if my fees (which they eagerly and happily pay) are any indicator, they like me very much.

JC

katie said...

"NetProphet said...
JC,
You said in a earlier blog that,
" the EOP has offered to sit down and do a settlement, a gracious one at that, "

that is the rumor going around the presby! someone from the presby made an offer & kirk said no. i do believe pastor tom answered that already by saying that the presby never offered anything officially.
~katie

Wayne W(ard) said...

A call was received suggesting I take a look at 'Now That's a Presbytery Meeting' of Oct 28.

Upon reading it, I have a thought or two I'd like to share. It's truly wonderful that the EPC Presbytery meeting was pleasant. Feelings about anticipated entry as a member are obviously good. However, the comment 'Unlike our previous experiences, this denomination does a rigorous examination on the floor of the presbytery' implies the one from which recently departed (EOP as Kirk) does not. This type examination involves commitment to service by a person and should not be 'put down' or diminished as inferior to some other person or organization. It is a 'call to service' that our Lord has made clear to them and should be handled that way, whether we understand it or not.

My experiences while attending EOP meetings have been good along these lines. Young and not so young men and women, American and foreign folks, received lengthy and direct questioning and examination. Rather lengthy and direct questioning was done in the presence of elected commissioners, pastors, and others. It was public, and private when needed, before a vote was taken by the voting attendees. We were mindful that these folks were responding to calls as (but not limited to) fulltime pastors and ministers, lay pastors and ministers, medical people and in other professional areas. I recall some were in literacy and evangelism work, missionaries outreach, praise and worship, and similar clergy related service. They took it seriously, as we did, so as to assure their knowledge and commitment was based on Biblical values, and consistent with Presbyterian reformed theology.

So, I believe commitment by anyone in service to God and their response to rigorous examination in EOP should be honored as such. That includes our commitment to encourage them and support them in their calling. I would think it is the same in the EPC. It is not about 'competition' or being seen as better than someone else, rather it is about being true to their commitment in their calling in whatever organization they may be, and our assuring that can be done. And in the midst of all calling upon God's Grace.

But then again, perhaps we were at different meetings. I attended all EOP presbytery meetings called upon by the Session while active at Kirk. Sometimes overnight stays were required to complete sheduled activities. All I know is that I was there the whole time. My observations reveal the proceedings were exceptionally orderly and extremely well prepared by very dedicated EOP people and helpers.

I realize I don't and probably won't know about EPC except what I read, but I'm trustingly confident EPC will be thorough in examination and ordination and membership matters. I feel the same about EOP based on actual experience.

God's blessing on us all

Wayne W(ard)

TomGray said...

JC
As I answered somewhere else, I am not aware of any offer that the presbytery has made to us.
Tom

Larry said...

Contrary to Wayne Ward my experience in my presbytery (not EOP) is that a couple of softball questions are asked by ministers who had been requested ahead of time to be the question-askers.

There is no rigorous examination of the person to be ordained a minister.

TomGray said...

Dear Wayne (Ward),
No denomination or presbytery is perfect. I'm sure that I could find things to praise or condemn in any of them.

But this presbytery meeting was different in substance and tone from any that the EOP has had in the 24 years I participated and led in it. Having said that, I obviously have to take responsibility for the tone of such meetings not being better.
What Wayne Hardy and I appreciated in the EPC Mid-America presbytery meeting was:

* frequent and heart-felt, extemporaneous prayer.
* concentration on substantial business instead of announcements (which people simply read)
* thorough examination of candidates.

I chaired the EOP committee on preparation for ministry for a number of years. I'd have to say that none of our candidates would have successfully passed the kind of examination we witnessed last week.

All the candidates were expected to be thoroughly knowledgeable in Scripture and had to show that by reciting Scripture and/or directing members to particular Scriptures. They also had to answer extensive doctrinal questions, with several Scriptural points to support their view. The candidates HAD to express themselves theologically and biblically.

One thing lacking in both presbyteries, though, is thorough attention to the practicum of ministry. A lot of pastors unfit to lead churches have been ordained in the recent past. Some people are excellent in the schooling of faith, but poor at its application. Others simply don't work well with other people. Neither presbytery seems to address these issues.

In summary, there is decency and order in both presbyteries, but there was significantly more content, more substance in the Mid-America presbytery.
Tom

NetProphet said...

JC,

What a non-responsive answer to my direct question!! You have no credibility if you don't have the guts to back up your statements.

Richard Wilson said...

Tom,
My impression is that you felt what you wanted to experience at the EPC presbytery meeting. Your excitement is apparent but I wonder if it isn't clouding your view of things.

I can agree with Wayne Ward in thinking that you could not have been at some of the EOP meetings I attended but I knew that was incorrect since I had seen you there. I also noted that you did not often stay very long at the meeting although I thought you were getting accurate reports from your commissioners which I now know was obviously not always the case.

In your response to Wayne Ward, I appreciate your taking some responsibility for the perceived shortcomings of EOP meetings. Perhaps too often we have allowed too much deference to committee chairs and their committees during floor examinations but I have often felt I had to have very serious concerns before I could question their recommendations. There were a few occasions where I had concerns when there seemed to be intolerance of other views and as you noted, concern as to how well suited a particular individual was to working with others. In those instances, I was perhaps lax in not posing questions but I felt the need to defer to the conviction of that particular church's leadership by abstaining. My feeling now is that perhaps since GA and what has happened that there will be even more rigorous examinations.

Increasingly I am getting concerned about the actions of The Kirk and it's leadership. Your dissolution of trust of and with the denomination with your apparent move toward fundamentalism has seemingly converted a congregation and attracted like minded, formerly non-presbyterians in such numbers that you have effectively stolen a church from the denomination. I see evidence of increasing questions in the minds of some of the members as to what has happened--I suspect that will grow in number with time although I concede that the majority of your regulars remain firmly committed to your cause but there is legitimate reason for concern that those who come to disagreement with you will be cast off as though dust from your sandals.

JC said...

Netprophet,

Now, now, settle down. I have apparently struck a bit of a nerve. I know you folks are not accustomed to hearing views that call into question the devilish path Tom has led the Kirk down, but attacking my credibility because I did not name names is a bit much. I have my sources, and I am certainly not going to subject them to the "gentle ministrations" of this blog, which is just a hair short of Machen reincarnated.

JC

Wayne W(ard) said...

To Richard Wilson

Please pardon me for using this blog to contact Mr Wilson, but I have no other address identified with the name above. A point of clarification:

You (RW) raise a good point about the elders reporting back to Session (and having not done so accurately). Actually, as an Elected Commisioner I took it upon myself and asked if it would be okay to give a written report to the Kirk Session and Pastors, etc, after each EOP meeting we were expected to attend as an Elected Commissioner on behalf of Kirk Session.

At the end of each report I asked that any and all receiving the report feel free to correct any errors I may have made, or offer any differences of opinion (especially Pastors). I did at times get a 'thank you' from fellow elders, so by that I know they were being received.

However, although a portion of a report (tri-presbytery)was quoted once in a sermon, I'm not really aware of any discussion that arose from this action.

Wayne W(ard)

trumpet worship said...

Richard

I'm a bit confused by your last paragraph. The bit about "apparent move toward fundamentalism" and "stolen a church from the denomination" has some words in between, but I read it that these are directly linked.

Is it a common view that Presbyterian means non-fundamental or maybe non-evangelical?

I thought Presbyterian was a form of government and accountability.

As a side note: our congregation would have folded years ago if we attracted only Presbyterians - seems contrary to Matthew 28 anyway. We have done much better in attacting sinners, the Roman Catholics, the Baptists, the Penticostals, the "Who is this Jesus guy?" types. Hey, we even have had a few Lutherans darken our doors.

Stephen said...

Tom,

I forgot that you're no longer allowing anonymous posters, unless of course they use the word "apostate" and the acronym "PCUSA" in the same sentence, so this time I won't goof and leave off my name.

Dear Larry,

In the PCUSA, candidates for ministry of the Word and Sacrament must successfully complete the following before they are allowed to appear before their presbyteries for final examination for ordination.

(1) Sustain a psychological evaluation.

(2) Sustain annual reviews by their Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM).

(3) Sustain written ordination exams in English Bible content, biblical exegesis, worship and Sacraments, theology, and polity. These written exams are graded in a double blind fashion, where the graders do not know the identity (or the presbytery!) of the candidate.

(4) Earn the Master of Divinity degree from an accredited seminary (including field education, or what Tom calls "practicum").

(5) Depending on the presbytery, sustain requirements above and beyond those listed in the Book of Order. (I had to submit a biblical exegesis from the Greek, a written sermon derived from that exegesis, and a theological treatise on the Lord's Supper, all totalling about 85 pages.)

(6) Sustain the final examination of the CPM.

(7) Sustain the examination of the calling presbytery's Examination Committee, if different from the home presbytery.

(7) Sustain the examination of the home presbytery's Examination Committee.

If you suspect your presbytery is not following this mandated procedure, please contact your presbytery's Committee on Preparation for Ministry and Committee on Ministry leadership and express your concerns. If they fail to respond, then take up the matter with your executive/general presbyter. If that response is unsatisfactory, consider taking disciplinary action by filling an accusation with the presbytery or synod PJC.

However, if your presbytery is in compliance with the Book of Order with regard to the examination process, please reconsider whether or not "There is no rigorous examination of the person to be ordained a minister" in your presbytery.

Not knowing the EPC examination process, I wonder if the PCUSA places the bulk of its examination before the candidate reaches the floor of presbytery (in a gatekeeping fashion), whereas the EPC reserves the bulk of its examination for the floor of the presbytery.

I know in most presbyteries I have served, the presbytery tends to trust its CPM and COM to prosecute a rigorous examination of each and every candidate before the final exam on the floor of presbytery. That may be why you experience those examinations to be of the "softball" variety.

In fairness, though, I have witnessed some hardball exam questions from the floor, by liberals and conservatives alike, targeted toward both liberal and conservative candidates in every presbytery where I have served a church.

The recent authoritative interpretation of G-6.0108 should help strengthen the examination process in each governing body. Of course, Tom might disagree with that.

Ah well, it's easier to throw stones from outside the circle, isn't it?

Keeping the faith,
Stephen

J Fred said...

People who write into this blog just to cause conflict are nothing more than "spiritual vampires" who seek to feed off of the negative energy they spawn in their arrogant attacks. Just don't respond to them: eventually they will get tired of wasting breath where they can't get what they want (a conflict in which they get all the attention) and will go cause trouble somewhere else. Such people should be prayed for, certainly, but you will not be able to convince them of anything...they arrogantly think that they already know it all. Some teens just never grow up even as they become "adults" in age. Blessings Tom, everyone. Keep up the good work.

Toby Brown said...

Tom and friends,

Even after my five years of ordained ministry in this denomination, I still find it amusing when oldline PCUSA institutionalists, like Richard Wilson, think that bringing in people to our churches to hear the gospel is some sort of crime!

Is he serious?

No wonder our denomination is dying! So, I guess there is a new rule for mainliners: We can only add church members who come from other mailine (read 'dead-line') denominations.

And, if you preach what Jesus and the Apostles taught, you are a 'fundamentalist'.(insert sneer)

I also suppose that being this 'fundamentalist' is the last sin left in the PC(USA)!

Larry said...

In reply to Stephan, he apparently did not read my posting close enough as I was clearly only referring to the examination on the floor of presbytery and not any examination that may or may not have been done by COM and CPM committees.

TomGray said...

WOW!! Some of you got up on the wrong side of bed today! I'd really appreciate it if you would all keep the tone more respectful.

I am no longer posting the comments, having delegated that job some time ago. We have tried to make the most generous allowances to get people's views online.

I have to make some rebuttal here, though.

For Richard, I stand by my analysis of the two presbyteries. I stopped regular attendance at meetings of EOP because they became increasingly irrelevant (this is not due to any theological difference, just the fact that little or nothing of import happened). Examinations of candidates was perfunctory at best, and I still take some of the blame since I did not stand up and ask the hard questions. What stood out at the EPC meeting was that lay people stood up and asked questions that I would expect from PCUSA pastors.

As to being fundamentalist, the accusation's force depends on the meaning intended. If you say that I hold to Scriptural fundamentals, than I am honored to be so called. If you are saying that I am extreme and intolerant, you fail to understand me.

As to those we attract to the Kirk, one of the main problems with the PCUSA (why it is dying) is that it only expects people who are already presbyterian to be in their churches. It is no ecclesiastical crime to reach out to people not like us.

For JC, saying that I'm leading the Kirk down "a devilish path" is clever, but merely beligerent. We are going down the path we believe was started by Calvin and those who faithfully followed Reformed theology. The Kirk has not blindly followed my leadership--people in the Kirk do think. I do, though, thank you for the comparison to Machen.

And Wayne W(ard). You'd have to identify any time when presbytery meetings were inaccurately reported to session. We always had at least several commissioners there, and consistent reports, including yours.

Hang in there folks, but be nicer!
Tom

Richard Wilson said...

Tom,

When I am aware of specific queries directed to me, I try to respond. This post is to respond to the queries of trumpet worship, toby brown, and you.

I believe the Word Of God is inerrant! That does not relieve me of the responsibility to discern to the best of my ability what is the Word Of God. Man is not infallible which increases our responsibility to God!

I have never encountered a PCUSA Church that did not base its teaching on the gospel--none that did not "preach what Jesus and the Apostles taught". I have encountered PCUSA Churches that were fundamentalist, evangelical, and even charismatic--and I believe that is as it should be. In fact, I believe we should all be more evangelical by having greater zeal and enthusiasm in spreading the "Good News".

There is a need for all flavors of churches within mainline denominations including the PCUSA so that all can find a comfortable place to worship. I believe that all of our churches should bring in everyone to hear the gospel. I believe that no church need feel compelled to leave the PCUSA and that in leaving some are exhibiting immoral and unethical traits. Christians cam disagree with one another but should not speak ill of one another!

Tom, I meant my comment of your leaving presbytery meetings early to be an expression of my disappointment not of criticism--I recognize the discomfort you felt in having to be there. I find no fault with belief in the inerrancy of Scripture--I do disagree with insistence on it and intolerance of other views. That is the perception I have gotten from The Kirk and others who express their desire to leave the PCUSA. That is why I disagree with The Kirk's leadership and still believe you are wrong in leaving the PCUSA. By leaving in the manner that you chose, I believe you have, in fact, stolen a church from the denomination!

TomGray said...

Richard,
I guess that we would disagree on "all flavors" of churches being a desirable goal for a Christian denomination. It is thought, for instance, that the sense of taste evolved in order that we could tell the difference between nutrient and poison.

One could extend this analogy to a denomination. One can have a lot of variety within orthodox faith, but there is a point beyond which it ceases to be orthodox.

This is what I and many others believe happened last June when the whole issue of "essentials" was undermined by the AI. I am not intolerant of differing views, so long as they do not threaten the foundation of faith.

The body is tolerant of many kinds of food--even kinds that have mild toxins in them. But the body dies when it ingests poison.
Tom

Stephen said...

Dear Larry,

Yes, I read your entire post and I understood it to mean that you disapproved of floor exams. While your comment, "There is no rigorous examination of the person to be ordained a minister," reflects your experience of floor exams in your presbytery, it leaves the impression that all examinations that come before the floor exams also lacking rigor. That simply is not so. The standardized written ordination exams prevent that from happening because they are required of every candidate in every presbytery. I stand by my initial response.

If you are truly concerned about "softball" questions being tossed to candidates during floor exams in your presbytery, why not express your concern with the leadership of your CPM and COM? Then come to the next floor exam with your questions in hand ready to ask.

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

Keeping the faith,
Stephen

Stephen said...

Dear Tom,

You warn us to control our tone, then use words like "toxin" and "poison" to describe viewpoints with which you disagree?

My father had a saying for the example you just set: "Do as I say, not as I do." I know Jesus had a few things to say for that example, also, but since we all know the Bible so well, I'll leave it to the reader to fill in the blanks.

Keeping the faith,
Stephen

Arthur Woodling said...

Tom,

You said:

“I guess that we would disagree on "all flavors" of churches being a desirable goal for a Christian denomination.”

It seems a little simplistic to think that Richard was implying that including “all flavors” would be a “goal” for a Christian denomination. It might be a stepping-stone along the way, but certainly not a “goal”. It seems to me that the apostle Paul would have included anyone who was willing to accept Jesus as savior.

You also said:

“It is thought, for instance, that the sense of taste evolved in order that we could tell the difference between nutrient and poison.”

Your analogy:

Hot Fudge Sundae -> Nutritious
Pure Pomegranate Juice -> Poison

God’s analogy???:

Hot Fudge Sundae -> Poison
Pure Pomegranate Juice -> Nutritious

Your attitude seems to be one that advocates segregation rather than unity (I’ve mentioned this before). This seems to be contrary to the true goal of evangelism. Through unity we may find the true nature of our Lord. By splitting apart we all end up wandering around in the darkness of human depravity. Your desire to band together with like-minded evangelicals (Eat Hot Fudge Sundaes) gives you a good feeling (It tastes good), but it might not be what God really intends for our salvation (Hardens our arteries). We may not like the doctrines of some (maybe many) in the denomination (Yuk!!…It tastes like pure pomegranate juice!), but our association with them may in the end help mature us and attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Clears our arteries). (My commentary on Ephesians 4:13)

Arthur

TomGray said...

Stephen,
I used toxin and poison in an illustration, not an attack on a person posting here.
Tom

Stephen said...

Tom,

The "illustrations" (toxins, poisons, dying cats) and descriptors (apostate, unbiblical, unfaithful) you use on this blog get the point across loud and clear. Granted, you may not apply them to specific individuals by name. Indeed, you tend to categorize groups of people (so-called liberals versus so-called evangelicals). Regardless, you use your "illustrations" negatively to label viewpoints with which you disagree.

A few of your members and supporters do the same thing on this blog. More than once they have applied the words "apostate" and "satanic" even to fellow evangelicals, for no apparent reason than said fellow evangelicals wrote responses in contradiction to your expressed views.

I was deeply saddened and disturbed to read the labels "devilish" (by a liberal) and "spiritual vampires" (by an evangelical) used on this very page. But then again, they appear to be responding in kind to your "illustrations".

May God bless you, and me, and those who read and respond to this blog, with the grace to disagree agreeably.

Keeping the faith,
Stephen

Richard Wilson said...

Tom,

Someone recently said to me, "You must have a thick skin!" I don't know about that but I do hope you are getting a sense of me that lets you know that I take no umbrage at comments to me. My hope is that all of us will make sincere efforts to understand one another.

I was pleased to see that Arthur understood what I was trying to communicate. Your leaving the PCUSA remains disappointing to me in that it will deny me the opportunity to try to understand you through talking and listening to each other. We might have reached some common ground that would have united us to work toward change that might be needed. It does seem clear to me that for your sake, you needed to leave but I just fundamentally disagree with the manner of departure you chose.

My understanding of the ministry and teaching of Jesus is one of inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness. It just seems to me you are seeking exclusiveness where all believe exactly the same. I concede again that you may be proven to be right when we stand in judgment.

When I state my belief that it is right and good to have "all flavors" of churches so that everyone might find a place of comfort to hear the Good News in the hope that the gospel seeds that are sown will germinate, take root, and be nurtured to full maturity. I am certain that we all feel joy in seeing that occur!

I respect your view of the AI although I do not share your view and thus do not feel it threatens the foundation of faith as you do. Even if it should prove to be a threat, we could better meet that challenge by being united.

I have never fully appreciated "May God Help Us All" as a form of prayer but in our present circumstances it may be appropriate so I will close with
"May God Help Us All To Discern His Will"!

Richard

Jack Haberer said...

Tom,

In your post of Oct. 28, you state:

"This morning we've been observing the examination of candidates for ministry. Unlike our previous experiences, this denomination does a rigorous examination on the floor of presbytery. Candidates must answer specific questions from and about Scripture. ...Each candidate was asked questions of doctrine and where they, if they did, disagreed with any point. As long as disagreement was not on one of the essentials, that disagreement was met with grace."

Funny, but that's exactly what the TTFPUP recommended and the Birmingham approved with the adoption of the Authoritative Interpretation to G-6.0108. Yet you cried foul over our GA's action, and have cited that action as grounds to leave, while citing that practice as a positive one in the EPC.

I don't get it.

ALSO: Just out of curiosity: How many of the voting commissioners at the EPC presbytery meeting were women?

Jack Haberer

Ted Rossier said...

I was sitting here at lunch, looking up some passages that might shed light on the discussion here, and I came up with too many to post! But here are a couple:

"If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

-John 5:46-47

And likewise:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

-Luke 6:46-49

Also, it occurs to me that the little epistle of Jude addresses the current trouble very well. It doesn't take long to read, but says a lot in one page. Everyone who is condemning the Kirk leadership and membership for their actions ought to carefully consider what our Lord's half-brother says there.

Oh, and Richard Wilson, you said to Tom:

"I concede again that you may be proven to be right when we stand in judgment."

So here's one for you:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

-Matthew 7:21-23

Interesting, isn't it? "Lawlessness" presumes the existence of Law. So do you think Jesus is saying that doctrine and the correctness of teaching might be somewhat important?

Ted

Ted Rossier said...

Jack,

I think the problem is that the PCUSA has one idea of what "essential" is, and the EPC another entirely. From what I can tell, the PCUSA has very few essentials left.

And your comment about women is totally irrelevant. What is it to you whether the EPC allows women to serve as elders, or how many they have? Are they supposed to have some kind of quota system in place?

Color me confused.

Ted

Richard Wilson said...

Tom,

In response to Ted, I say you have it precisely! That is the essence of what I say to what you see as "your side"--you may be absolutely right and you may be absolutely wrong about what separates us. That possibility is what causes me to read and respond to you and if you can't tell, I will declare that I care about both of us and what we will only know at judgment. How do you not consider this possibility?

Richard

Arthur Woodling said...

Ted,

You said:

“Interesting, isn't it? "Lawlessness" presumes the existence of Law. So do you think Jesus is saying that doctrine and the correctness of teaching might be somewhat important?”

You say that as if you believe they, whose interpretation of the Law departs from yours, believe in lawlessness. That’s funny; I guess then that the Pharisees must have thought that Jesus believed in lawlessness too. My advice to you, Ted: Stop believing that you (and those like you) truly understand the Law better than all the rest of the saints.

The scriptures you have quoted are as much a commentary on you and your beliefs as they are on anyone else and theirs.

You also said to Jack:

“And your comment about women is totally irrelevant. What is it to you whether the EPC allows women to serve as elders, or how many they have? Are they supposed to have some kind of quota system in place?”

That’s not irrelevant at all, considering that Tom has made it clear that he believes that ordination of women is biblically sound policy. Jack certainly didn’t seem like he was advocating any kind of “quota system”. It looked to me like he was truly curious, and maybe wondering if Tom might in time find the way the EPC does things to be unsatisfactory (or unbiblical) as he does with the PCUSA.

Arthur

Ted Rossier said...

Richard,

I understand the possibility (logically speaking), but not the probability. I ground myself firmly in the Scriptures (to the extent that a sinner is given grace to do so, mind you). I must confess frustration at the attitude of some who proclaim that the Bible cannot be understood in its fullest sense by anyone. If it could not be understood by Christians in all times and places, there would have been no point in God's giving it to us. Even if no one to date has determined the right answer to a question, does it then necessarily follow that there is no right answer to be found? Not at all! We start with the Bible as the Word of God, and Jesus Christ as the physical and temporal incarnation of that Word, and go from there.

Certainly there are mysteries, but one thing that is no mystery is that the antinomianism that you and others propound is clearly condemned not only by Christ but by the OT and the NT Apostles, who are all under the Holy Spirit's inspiration. You must understand that the consequences of being wrong at the Judgment are quite...dire. If I didn't care about you I certainly would not take the time to correct you if I thought you were in error.

Please go read Jude. Carefully.

To Arthur,

You said:

"The scriptures you have quoted are as much a commentary on you and your beliefs as they are on anyone else and theirs."

Oh, the old post-modern paradigm of "there is no truth, there is only interpretation." My response to Richard applies to you as well.

I don't live in your world, Arthur. It makes no sense. In fact, you do not even live in "your world." You borrow from mine in order to even think. Otherwise, why do you take offense at my statements? Have I done something wrong? I must have, if you are comparing me to the Pharisees (sons of Satan, according to Christ). So by what standard do you tell me I am doing wrong? What is right?

Ted

TomGray said...

Jack,
Thanks for writing. I was simply reporting the difference that I saw from where I had been to what I witnessed at the EPC. I think you, too, will agree that the PCUSA presbyteries have not been rigorous in examinations.

I disagree that the TTFPUP will result in the kind of examination I witnessed the other day. I believe it will simply emphasize the theological/social schism existing in the PCUSA--like many others, It think it will result in the ordination of some who (I believe) will flaunt Scripture, while creating fights in other presbyteries. I hope I'm wrong; only time will tell.

I really don't think that the EPC
is doing the same thing the PCUSA might do. They are quite clear about what they do and do not accept. The PCUSA still has to figure that out.

There were about 20 women at the meeting. I didn't listen to tell which did or didn't vote. The presbytery has under 20 churches.

Tom

Jim Loughlin said...

Jack -

The essentials for the EPC are clearly laid out. What are the PCUSA essentials of Reformed faith and polity? Can they be succinctly stated and readily agreed upon? The PUP report in lines 1373 - 1383 leaves it up to the ordaining body to determine "If the departure [of G-6.0106b] is judged not to violate the essentials of Reformed faith and polity...". This allows a presbytery to decide that even though a candidate did not fully meet the G-6.0106b standard, they could still ordain or install the candidate. Furthermore, the PUP report states that "All parties should endeavor to outdo one another in honoring one another's decisions..." [1205 - 1208]. Where is the accountability here?

Arthur Woodling said...
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