“It is time, in the name of integrity and honesty, for those who have denied and rejected the essential tenets of the Reformed faith to graciously separate from the body and leave the church to those who have remained faithful to its standards, doctrine and tradition.”I would like this declaration to be effective. My guess is that the Presbytery of Santa Barbara will receive it favorably and pass it on as an overture to the next General Assembly in 2008. There it will die. Those who have rejected Reformed standards will not leave. Their definition of the ancient standard of “reformed and reforming” is to change the church in accordance with “scientific” and cultural standards.
Churches like ours have felt impelled to leave because those changing the standards have made it clear that they will not. They are in the PCUSA to change it to their standards. In fact, they have already done so.
One of our local PCUSA pastors has written to members of the presbytery,
“The Kirk believes that the PCUSA is headed for the shoals, and has opted to man the lifeboats and jump ship. Other congregations have done (or are considering), the same. we must take their concersn very seriously. But as an evangelical pastor within the PCUSA, I'm convinced that there's still reason to be 'in the engine room' and hard at work. We need all hands on deck.”This implies that we, at the first sign of problems, left the denomination. Fact is, we’ve been fighting for the Reformed standards of the traditional PCUSA for decades. I have served on boards of renewal organizations, attended national and regional meetings many times each year, written to magazines, blogs, and spoken out at various gatherings around the country. I spent at least one month each year fighting the fight in the contexts available to me. The passing of the PUP report was the last straw for us, indicating that the fight had been lost.
This pastor, who does see the problem and agrees that it is a problem, has just now decided to join the fray, apparently critical of us for not staying and fighting with him. I remember, years ago, inviting him to join me with a group of pastors who, among other things, was addressing the very problems that plague the PCUSA today. This pastor declined, saying that he had to budget his time, already committed to a theological discussion group.
I know that I sound frustrated--and I am. The time for generalist discussion groups, as opposed to active opposition to the problems affecting mainline denominations today, is long past. Many of us have literally given a cumulative year or more of our lives to taking a stand against the theological erosion that typifies so many denominations today. To continue the metaphor, the ground beneath the foundation is sinking. We feel it is time to move back to firmer ground.
Keep praying--keep the faith,