Verse of the Day

Friday, June 27

Mourning for the PC(USA) or "where do we look for the true church now"

Alternative titles for this posting included: "Thank you very much sir, may I have another" and, my son's option, "So long and thanks for all the fish."

GA is at lunch. I imagine many will have a hard time holding food down after the debacle this morning. I outlived being a conspiracy theorist but I can't help wonder at what happened. Last night we undertook a new mission initiative to raise 2 million dollars so we might, in the words of the commissioner from Denver, "litigate in a graceful way".

This morning we started off by being fair and limiting debate to one minute. This is because there's a lot of stuff to get through. [side note: didn't they see this coming when they authorized guest speakers, ecumenical greetings and DVD's months before the GA?]

Yeah Gradey was elected moderator which might be like getting promoted to captain April 15, 1912 on the Titanic. His election was overshadowed by all that followed.

In just over 90 minutes the Church Orders and Ordination Committee gutted the evangelical presence in the denomination. They overturned 30 years of faithfulness to the word of God and have probably single-handedly sounded the death knell for many congregations.

O5-12 reversed a recent decision of the General Assembly PJC which said a candidate for ministry may NOT declare a scruple, or disagreement with the portion of the Book of the Order that demands one live a life of sexual morality in marriage or abstain from sex if not married. What was passed by the General Assembly was an "Authoritative Interpretation" [this is an important term to remember] which Presbytery's have no vote on, and which can only be overturned by a judicial decision or another General Assembly.

Then things went downhill. This same committee answered a request from others to replace the current G. 6-0108b (that speaks about marriage, and sexual behavior of leaders
with the following:
Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.
Now officers only have to pledge to be obedient. (you will recall we don't confess allegiance to Jesus) What do we obey? Not scripture, not the confessions but the amorphous, subjective and "feel-good" and warm fuzziness" of where he [I hope they mean Jesus] leads. If there is good news in this it is the fact that the Presbyteries have to vote on the changed wording. If that were all that happened we could survive.

Heading downhill toward a slippery slope, GA then chose to jump off the cliff. The second point of this overture creates a new AI, remember I told you about Authoritative Interpretations? Here's the text:
2. Provide the following authoritative interpretation:
Interpretive statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the 190th General Assembly (1978) of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and the 119th General Assembly (1979) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and all subsequent affirmations thereof, have no further force or effect.
In one fell swoop, 54% or 380 commissioners allowed for those who are homosexuals in or out of any sort of relationship to be ordained. In one fell swoop the denomination no longer understands homosexuality to be a sin or as bar to ordination. Let me be crystal clear as to what this means.

As of this General Assembly there are NO formal definitive guidance or authoritative interpretations which prohibit a self-affirming, practicing homosexual person from being ordained as a deacon, elder or pastor in the PC(USA).

The committee's end-run around the constitution isn't even needed in light of this piece of c#*&$. We have taken the conservative and evangelical part of this portion of the Body of Christ and spit in their faces.

I am at a loss for what to do. I have always held out hope following the General Assembly but I am beginning to believe that what happened to Saul has happened to our denomination (1 Samuel 15 and 16:14) God have mercy on us all.

Alan





6 comments:

  1. Well ... at least marriage is still defined as being between a man and a woman.

    Sounds more like a sop to the moderate-conservative/conservative side of the PCUSA than anything else.

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  2. Alan,
    At a loss for what to do. I imagine there were more than two of us in the pulpit this morning saying that. 380 commissioners had the hubris to undo what thousands of commissioners. They should hang their heads in shame. I hope they wake up and say, "What have we done??"

    I gave our elders PFR's statement and the Renewal Network statement, told 'em to read up this month, talk w/ other elders and churches, and come ready to have a significant discussion to August's meeting. We take July off...

    Thanks for being faithful..
    your friend,
    dm

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  3. This Sunday I canned the sermon and pulled a chair out in front and laid out for the congregation what went on at General Assembly and the possible consequences for Kenton.

    My bullet points were:
    1. We will sue and investigate our sisters and brothers in Christ but get chummy with people who thing we're polytheistic.
    2. We can't come up with a 100k for a person to deal with sex abuse but we can spend 2 million to sue churches.
    3. We have no essential tenets of the faith (I wonder how a Presbytery will judge if a receiving body has compliant ones)
    4. We'll ordain SAPH persons and preachers who want to have affairs.

    Did I miss anything?

    One member summed it up well. It sounds like a wake up call for some congregations who were on the sideline.

    Alan

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  4. +/- on how many churches leave by September 1st?

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  5. Pastor Alan, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog about the fellow who, to both of us, physically looked like Jesus amidst the chaos. It turns out that he is the same who drew attention at the mic to the irony of the church generously funding litigation against one's brothers and sisters while not funding adequately for sexual abuse.

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  6. Thanks for this great summary. Although removing the fidelity & chastity clause has been voted down overwhelmingly many times before, I fear in the past several years so many have left that it will go through this time.

    At a loss for what to do here, too. I'm beyond sad and disheartened.

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