Posted by: Andrew Webb | June 29, 2008

The One Lesson We Can Still Learn from the PCUSA

After beginning their 2008 General Assembly by announcing the largest one year drop in their membership since 1981 (57,000 members), the PCUSA has continued a banner year by deciding to also drop the ban on the ordination of practicing homosexuals and fornicators. AP reports – “The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54 percent to 46 percent Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” The ban, it should be noted, along with the gay “blessing ceremonies” but no gay “marriages” ban is roundly ignored in many presbyteries. For instance, the PCUSA church Joy and I attended in Falls Church back in 1993 had an openly gay associate minister who would often mention or even bring forward his “partner” when he spoke to the church.

At this point we should be weary of their pretending to pay any attention to the scriptures at all. As usual we have plenty of quotes from progressive ministers in the PCUSA about how this “paves the way for a vibrant church” (despite the fact that it is paving the way for an empty church) and how they are advancing the faith, etc. One wonders why on earth they can’t just declare that henceforth they are going to do what is right in their own eyes, which is, after all, what they’ve been doing for a century. But none of this is new. Christ’s church has had to put up with the same kind of doggerel since the Socianians of the 17th century. Despite their claims of a bright future via liberalism, the clear and incontrovertible evidence is that liberalism kills the church dead every time and merely ushers in atheism. I know the Devil never changes his playbook, and generally never shows his hand (he’s not called the deceiver for nothing after all) but at this point we should be thoroughly sick of the endless charade.

The simple lesson we can take away from this is that a liberalizing agenda has no end, no bottom and no stopping point until the church has simply been absorbed by the surrounding culture. Either adopt a self-consciously conservative line and fight tooth and nail to maintain and advance it, or your denomination is doomed.

It’s always either Old Paths or Broad Path, Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura.

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Responses

  1. I find it interesting that churches who succumb to the culture are often pragmatic and seek to do that which will bring in the most people. The PCUSA, on the other hand, persists in their homosexual agenda in spite of dramatic losses in membership.

  2. That was an extremely well written post. I am curious why you stay. I can appreciate a high ecclesiology that desires not to be schismatic. Still is there not a time when an organization is no longer a true church? That was how the Reformers felt about the RCC.

  3. Hi Kevin,

    I’m not actually a member of the PCUSA, I’m a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

    The PCA is an Evangelical and Reformed Christian denomination founded in 1973 when conservatives in the PCUS left that denomination because the doctrines of the inerrancy of scripture, the deity of Christ were being attacked while liberal errors and heresies were being actively promoted. At the time they left the liberals in the PCUS were working out terms for a merger with the PCUSA which eventually came to pass.

    I should say that I didn’t write the above as a complete outsider. My wife was raised in the PCUSA, we were married in a PCUSA church, and the first church we attended and were members of after my conversion was a PCUSA congregation where I was baptized. I am also friends with a PCUSA pastor.

    As you pointed out, the Reformers felt that in order to be part of a true church one had to have the three marks – the right preaching of the word, the right administration of the sacraments, and the right use of church discipline. The PCUSA has lost at least two of those marks, and personally while I know there are still some evangelical congregations within the denomination, I believe the PCUSA to be unreformable at this point. The best thing someone in that denomination can do now is leave and join a faithful communion.

  4. I’m no fan of the PCUSA at all. And this latest development is, well, oh my, what can one say?

    But…

    From Andrew, “The simple lesson we can take away from this is that a liberalizing agenda has no end, no bottom and no stopping point until the church has simply been absorbed by the surrounding culture…”

    From six, ” I find it interesting that churches who succumb to the culture…”

    I always find it interesting that by “culture” everyone seems to mean a certain form of culture, namely the progressive or liberal strain. You know, culture includes conservatism as well. But the rhetoric always seems to imply that we may sort of grand-father into the faith mere cultural conservatism. I know, wink-wink, “cultural conservatism is just as vulnerable to biblical criticism.” We often see a ceremonial nod given this point, but when was the last time seriously conservtive Calvinists took to task aspects of the pro-life movement or the anti-homosexualism that lives and breathes so freely in our circles?

    I think that if we were a lot more serious as old-school Calvinsists we’d not only be able to discern the terribly obvious errors of the PCUSA or something like the crasser forms of “health and wealth,” but we’d also see how many of the same principles which give rise to these gross errors are given a pass in “conservative” dens. Seriously, isn’t anyone bored with shooting fish in barrels?

  5. Sorry, but I can’t help but find some humor here. Not with Andy’s post – which is dead on. But with Kevin’s comment and Andy’s response. Is there a problem? Absolutely not!

    I just find it funny that the PCA (while small by PCUSA standards) is at least large enough that two PCA ministers (Andy & Kevin) don’t know each other. It gets even funnier (for me at least) since I am friends with both of them!

    Keep up the good work Andy – we need to watch these developments in the PCUSA, because their root causes touch on us in the PCA. We must be ever vigilant to guard against letting our view of the Scripture’s authority slip. That is where the whole PCUSA mess started.

  6. I know we think we took the high road at GA this year by saying no to the study committee, my concern is that we are doing nothing to stop the view of ordaining women as deacons. I remember Sproul talking about how the PCUSA won a vote to stop what you are discussing here, and there was a great celebration. But nothing was done to those promoting the view. They just kept promoting the view and now find themselves in full acceptance of this.

    What are we going to do to stop the view that ordaining women as deacons from spreading. I know this is slightly off topic, but I hope you get my point. We voted. It went our way (for those who oppose women’s ordination to the post of deacons), and now we wait for the continued spread of the teaching by our own denomination’s seminary to continue the acceptance of a position we reject. What is being done? That is my fear. Before long, this subject will come up again, until it’s ushered in, and then 10 years after that, we will be ordaining women as elders.

    • Look up Phoebe, she is praised by Paul as a deacon or for KJV, as a servant of the church (one & the same thing). There is no fear where Christ is, don’t hide the truth of God’s word out of fear of the selfish. This is why KJV was Insisted upon…to hide the truth. Romans 16:1,2 NIV “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. ** I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she.has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”


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