The PCUSA leadership has sent a letter, predictably, with a plea for unity—a plea that essentially disregards the problems causing the disaffiliations.
One thing we’ve heard constantly is that “nothing has changed.”
"Among the reasons of those wishing to leave are perceptions of particular actions of the 217th General Assembly last summer. These perceptions include concerns that our ordination standards have changed and that the PCUSA no longer believes in the Trinity. Neither of these is true."It is true that the words in the constitution were not changed, but the application of them has officially become relative. If presbyteries may ordain openly practicing GLBTs without discipline, then MUCH has changed regarding ordination. The words remain, but the standards have been changed.
The denomination says that it still believes in the Trinity. That may be so. It is, however, up for broad interpretation. The PCUSA is becoming increasingly modalist, defining functions of the Trinity (i.e. creator, sustainer) rather than living with the mystery of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three and one. Much of the impetus for such redefinition has come from progressive feminist circles unhappy with the Father and Son part.
So, churches like the Kirk have left a denomination which has demonstrated that it would rather include anything but strictly orthodox Reformed belief. The PCUSA stated clerk and executive director have given several reasons why it would be better for those churches to stay in the denomination.
"It is our deep conviction that we are better together than we are apart:Just how effective is the PCUSA in confronting the “enormous problems in the world”? If what they mean by confronting is making statements and having endless meetings, they fail to see that such effort does nothing to effect change. Even the amounts of money and resources applied by the PCUSA to human tragedies like Hurricane Katrina pale in comparison to much smaller denominations, like the Mennonites.
"We are better followers of Jesus when we stick together, mutually encouraging one another in the work of discipleship. "We are better together and more effective in confronting the enormous problems in the world – dire situations like Darfur, HIV/AIDS in Africa, and ongoing human tragedies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."
"We are better together because the Presbyterian Church (USA) as one expression of the whole body of Christ needs all of its parts in order to function well (1 Cor. 12)."It is true that the whole body needs all its healthy parts. The problem with the PCUSA’s assertion is that, once again, it deems itself to be the whole body. The Church Universal is the body; the PCUSA is just a small part, like an inflamed appendix or ingrown toenail. Oops—those parts need to be removed, don’t they?
Lest you think that I am being unbiblical, listen to what the Word has to say about parts of the body that have become diseased and useless (i.e. those that ignore sin).
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.Let me remind progressives that this is not Paul speaking (the progressively-dismissed writer of 1 Corinthians 12) but Jesus himself. I also would remind progressives in the PCUSA leadership that Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12 was most certainly not that we are better off in big numbers. Rather, we are to recognize that the smaller parts (if not inflamed, etc.) are just as important as the bigger ones.
Matthew 18:8, 9
"We are better together because our resources of time, talents and treasure have a larger and farther reach."There are many larger bodies with which Christians of any ilk may associate with better effectiveness than the PCUSA. The old mainline denominations are administratively top-heavy, theologically lightweight, and missionally challenged. There are mission associations today doing far better work than all the mainline denominations combined. World Vision is one that comes immediately to mind. Even better, World Vision is committed to Biblical, orthodox Christian faith!
One must take a cold, hard look at the reality that belies the PCUSA’s statement. Do the people in the pews really believe that the money the denomination receives is being used better than members would? If that were so, would not giving to the denomination be up instead of dramatically in decline?
"We are better together because our discernment and deliberations on tough topics need our many perspectives to reach the most faithful decisions."So the PCUSA makes more faithful decisions because people remain in, regardless? Let’s think again of recent stands taken by that august collection of denominationalists:
- Abortion on demand is supported (with the exception of partial-birth procedures)
- Authors of fully discredited papers (particularly the horrendous sexuality report voted down in 1991) are still pulled out regularly by the denomination as “experts” in Christian views of sexuality.
- Presbyteries can deem themselves of greater authority than the Bible when considering the behavior of those asking to be ordained.
- Last year’s “deliberation on tough topics” out of the “many perspectives” came up with the Trinitarian re-description of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as “Rainbow, Ark and Dove,” (crazy, but at least not modalist), “Speaker, Word and Breath,” and “Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-Giving Womb.” Even national editorials realized the nonsense in this, suggesting that we might as well describe the Trinity as “Rock, Paper, and Scissors."
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”In all this time of change for me and the Kirk congregation, we’ve never gone out to encourage any other congregation to leave the PCUSA. But, if people have come to us, we’ve been honest about what we believe is best.
2 Corinthians 6:17
It will be interesting to see developments from Orlando this week.
Keep praying—keep the faith,