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.


Thursday, June 26

Observations on GA 2

It's a mixed bag and a very disturbing one to me in particular. First the sort of good news is that we affirmed a "common faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." Sure we don't affirm any allegiance to Jesus, just faith.[1]

It sort of reminds me a few GA's ago when we put in our constitution "marriage was a covenant between a man and a woman". It bothers me when we "legislate" the obvious, orthodox and historical truth of the Body of Christ.

At 10 p.m. the death knell for any ongoing contribution of per capita was sounded. O3-21 (text follows):

That the 218th General Assembly (2008) do the following:

1. Provide funds to the Office of General Assembly for the purpose of sharing the cost of legal fees defending our Constitution against the New Wineskins Non-geographic Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and a group which has joined that denomination.

2. From these funds, reimburse the Presbytery of Northern New England for half of all of its remaining legal costs up to a maximum of $185,000.

[3. That the Office of the General Assembly establish and promote an Extra Commitment Opportunity (ECO) account that will be the source of this support and welcomes contributions from the whole church.]

We voted 2 million dollars to be used for litigation when churches wish to withdraw from the PC(USA). What the committee couldn't answer was whether a presbytery had to request the funds or if it would just be divided up. They also couldn't answer the question as to whether these funds would be used in defense of suits brought by congregations or if they could be used to initiate actions against congregations.

I appreciated the delegate from Donegal Presbytery who pointed out how GA had just been told that they couldn't afford 100k to fund a position dealing with abuse within the denomination but we could spend 2 million from per-capita to fight congregations who wish to leave.

Rev. Oldenkamp minister commissioner from Sacramento Presbytery spoke about their church being in court even after negotiating with the presbytery. What he didn't say is that it's because of another congregation in the Sacramento Presbytery.

Even if we weren't an endorsing congregation of the New Wineskins Association I would recommend to my congregation and session NOT to pay per capita because this is a misuse if not abuse of our sisters and brothers in Christ who are being led a different direction. God help us all.


[1] 16-01

“1. affirm as sisters and brother[s] in Christ[,] our common faith in[, and allegiance to,] Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; and

“2. request that[, at his discretion,] the Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) [say before every vote] [when calling for the vote say:] [‘As sisters and brothers in Christ,] [‘Sisters and brothers], sharing our common faith in[, and allegiance to,] Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, [and walking humbly with our God,] let us proceed to vote on the question before us.”

Observations on GA 1

Dr. Rodger was misleading at best. In discussion about the minority report on the Heidelberg catechism he said that only one English translation used the term "homosexual perversion". I did a quick search on and found that although the word "perversion" was not used the concept of "homosexuality" is in deed present in the NIV, NLT, CEV, NASB.

I like the man. I've taken classes from him. I've enjoyed his conversation and insight but the last few years his investment in the pro-homosexual agenda has made him disingenuous.


Saturday, June 21

218th General Assembly

This is one of those posts that is SO denominationally oriented many of you will have fallen asleep already... that's okay, it's not for everyone. I wanted to give everyone a heads up for a couple of sights that you need to be aware of.

First is This has all the business of the General Assembly on it and you can actually follow it as it goes through committee. It should have the final reports too as they area generated. Having said that, it's not up right now [8 pm PDT Saturday, June 21, 2008]. But I anticipate they will get the problems worked out since this is how the commissioners to GA are getting their information. You do have to register for this site but if you're interested in how some things turn out it will be well worth your time.

This site will be important for Monday and Tuesday as the committees meet and do their work.

Second is which allow you to watch the action at General Assembly real-time. The schedule shows the business meetings beginning in earnest on Wednesday in the afternoon. As boring as it sounds to some of you, yours truly will be glued to his computer watching GA. Of interest to me are the issue of Israel, the nFOG [new form of government] and the annual posturing and fighting over ordination issues.

BTW if you haven't discovered GA Junkie's blog yet do so. He will keep you informed of everything going on at GA. He also covers the real kirk [Scotland], EPC and a few others. He's well worth the read.

Remember you only get to have this fun every two years in the PC(USA). I anticipate I'll be enjoying a more annual event next year.


Wednesday, June 11

A Tale of Two Presbyteries

The PC[USA] faces a sever lack of consistency among its beliefs. Some Presbyteries ordain openly practicing homosexual persons[1] others make statements that they will not ordain such persons. Some presbyteries have a list of essential tenets[2] and most don't.

On June 10th's Presbyweb[3] displayed this continued lack of meaningful "connectionalism" was loud and clear in two articles arranged literally over one another. The first is a letter, by Noel Anderson reporting how the Presbytery of San Joaquin unanimously dismissed Millbrook Presbyterian Church to the EPC with their property. Below this is a report from Presbyterian Layman about the Presbytery of Southern Louisiana and Woodlawn Presbyterian Church of New Orleans. The presbytery sought a "temporary restraining order" to keep the church from meeting to vote on seeking dismissal from the PC[USA]. The parish court denied presbytery's request.

Maybe it's my political science background coming out or maybe being 55 I just don't have time to play the games anymore; either way it's time to face the fact that we're busted, broken, split apart, torn asunder, dysfunctional or just plain stupid you choose.

Like the humpty-dumpty of legend, all of Cliff's horses and all of Cliff's men won't put this busted omelet back together again. The recent task force report hasn't accomplished anything approaching peace, unity or purity. In fact, it may very well be, the item that signals the end to any hope of unity within our denomination.

I'm not saying the PC[USA] will cease to exist. I'm not saying they won't see meaningful fruit produced for the kingdom of God. But I will say, without a shadow of a doubt that if we continue this fewer and fewer will listen to any claim of connectionalism seriously. What's more it will also only continue to fuel the separation that already exists.

Tuesday, June 10

Happy Father's Day

In our household when one of my boys ask what I want for Father's day, Christmas or my birthday, my stock answer is "Your undying love and unquestioned obedience". Needless to say, I'm still waiting.

I came across this video from an email ad from GodTube and thought it worth sharing. It reminded me of the fact that when my father died, 22 years ago, he and I had become friends. You who are father's remember the little things count. Those who aren't father's but whose father's are alive remember the love and obedience request.

Have a great day Dads.