Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Presbyterian follies

One of Hugh Hewitt’s favorite God-bloggers, Mark D. Roberts, writes this about decisions taken by the current General Assembly of the PCUSA. These sorts of decisions help explain why the Knippenbergs left a PCUSA church whose congregants we loved. Here’s a taste of what Roberts has to say (you can guess where he’s going, I think):

It looks like my denomination, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., felt envious over the recent attention given to the Episcopal Church as it faces the possibility of schism. Thus we decided to get our fair share of the spotlight by acting rather like the Episcopalians.

Read the whole thing, if you have an interest in the PCUSA or in the continuing evolution (or devolution) of mainline Protestantism in the U.S.

Discussions - 3 Comments

My wife (and her immediate family) are all members of PCUSA. Part of their initial attraction to that church is some of the local control that each presbytery has.

The author makes interesting points, but he completely lost me when he posted this:

Under the Constitution, people are guaranteed the freedom of speech. But what would be left of our national union if states had the authority to decide whether or not to allow their residents to speak freely, and in what circumstances.

It’s called Federalism, Dr. Roberts. Exactly how it should work.

Author ended, with this:

So, in light of the General Assembly vote to accept the PUP Report, is it time for biblically-committed Christians to leave the PCUSA? I’ll pick up this question tomorrow.

Apparently, they [biblically-comitted Christians] have been leaving for the last four decades This amounts is just big-tent stuff, I think. PCUSA is at its lowest membership, percentage wise, since 1870. Steady decreases in membership totals over the last 4 decades seems more detrimental than a little more "Federalism" within the church.

The Book of Order allows for the local Session to have final say over interpretation of most issues. Speaking as an ordained elder I do have to say that PCUSA is pretty well split over the issue of ordained ministers who are homosexual. If you can get your hands on a P.U.P (Peace. Unity. Purity) Report which was to supposedly investigate this issue, you will see that that committee was very much split on the issue. However I think that this is an isse that is confronting most Protestant denominations, or soon will.

Two titles that provide excellent scholarship on the issue;
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views by Dan Via and Robert Gagnon and

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Text and Hermaneutics by Robert Gagnon. Worth the read from a theoretic/historical point of view.

In addition to the earler post, I recently attended a Presbytery meeting in which an Overture (motion) was brought for a vote from a Mississippi Presbytery proposing language against the reccomendations of the PUP report. The vote was split 48 (mostly urban or more cosmopolitan churches) to 47 (rural or country churches). The voting followed a poor interpretation of Roberts. First by verbal vote (all in favor in a room of 100 people doesn’t really work) and then by a verbal count. I do hope that the vote this week was better organized.

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