The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a so-called mainline denomination that has moved to the sidelines of American religious culture.
In other words, nobody really cares what it says anymore, barely notices its existence, and won't notice when it's gone for good; or as a friend in the franchise said to a stunned denominational bureaucrat not too long ago, "We are irrelevant to everyone but ourselves."
Essentially, its continuing members long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
A small remnant believes the decline results from almost a half century of dissipating Christology, disrespect for Biblical authority, irreverence for life from womb to tomb, confused sexualities, and extreme left ideologies masquerading as Reformation theology; remaining faithfully despite increasingly marginalized judicatorial participation: "A prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover's quarrel. If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to hell. They'd just let it go" (Frederick Buechner).
Practically, the only things keeping it from fulfilling its corporate thanatos libido are bank accounts, foundations, endowments, properties, and other assets spelled M-O-N-E-Y.
Hope for it was expressed by the late Edward A. Dowey in "Re-Forming Tradition: Presbyterians and Mainstream Protestantism" (The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XIV, Number 1, New Series, 1993): "The much-quoted and often misconstrued motto, ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, 'the church reformed must always be reformed,' is part of a phrase that continues secundum verbum Dei, 'according to the Word of God.' Reform...means not change or alteration as such, nor does it signify a revolution that tries to start over without looking back...Our question now should not be 'Are we successful?' but 'Are we faithful?' Only when Reform roots in the Word will we hear again another of our great Reformed imperatives: Sursum corda! 'Lift up your hearts!'"
Don't hold your breath.
While I think the current conspiracy to formulate a new Form of Government in the PCUSA (aka nFOG) is intended to accelerate the apostasies highlighted in the fourth paragraph of the first narrative of this KD, I may be wrong.
So I wrote a letter to folks who are much more sophisticated about this kinda stuff to get their take on nFOG; and if friends from other franchises are still reading, especially sister-sideliners-formerly-known-as-mainliners, you may be comforted/alarmed-to-alerted by the results:
I am doing a little KD survey on nFOG or latest expression of the corporate
thanatos libido in the PCUSA.
While my site/sight no longer focuses on the tiny part of whatever kingdom
is being represented by our franchise, lots of readers/subscribers-for-free are
very concerned about this being the last nail in the coffin of Biblical
Christianity in the PCUSA with predictions of theological/ideological
anarchy as soon as it hits the presses for judicatorial incarnation.
The questions are being asked by folks who are committed to remaining
faithfully just about regardless.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I'm doing a little unscientific survey from left and right on the
questions that are most asked of me as if I know anything about it.
Here are the questions:
1. Does this mean each judicatory (presbyteries/sessions with
synods being increasingly irrelevant) will set its own ordination
standards for deacons, elders, and clergy?
2. Does this mean voluntary per capita apportionments will be
mandatory without any real representation?
3. How will nFOG enable/disable gay marriages in the PCUSA?
4. Does it encourage our historical/traditional commitment to
connectionalism or replace it with a congregationalism
akin to the UCC?
Please comment on any of those questions and tell us about your
concerns/alerts for folks in the trenches.
KD protects the identity of its sources because, uh, well, you know...
You will not be quoted by name; and though I have been threatened in
the past to reveal identities to various agents of the ecclesiastical thought
police, I have not and will not because of the very real underminings more
than threats to vocational security/mobility.
Please be candid and concise.
My sense is folks need to know nFOG is a game-changer.
I may be wrong.
You can say that too!
Blessings and Love!
The responses were overwhelmingly pejorative; betraying a sense of, uh, betrayal of Biblical Christianity in favor of an unholy agenda in which any connection between the PCUSA and Jesus will be coincidental.
The small sampling that follows is representative of the plethora of responses.
General Comments on nFOG
Washington (pastor and PCUSA constitutional expert): "I hate it. It should die an immediate death. Nothing positive to say."
Illinois (elder and lawyer): "This will be the tool to recognize same-sex marriage in Presbyterian churches and the ordination of self-affirming, avowed, and unrepentant homosexuals. It could be the last straw for many churches. I think the floodgates will open and churches will attempt to depart in greater numbers and the fight for property will become even more intense; ultimately resulting in the repealing of Chapter 8 because it is morally wrong and legally invalid. Actually, the cost of litigation will make 'gracious separation' the sensible financial option for the denomination because it all comes down to money in the PCUSA. Burning money to pay lawyers will do the trick."
Pennsylvania (elder and lawyer): "This will gut the constitution and legalize the left's agenda."
Illinois (laywoman and former PCUSAer): "Near as I can tell, everyone who was once willing to take a stand has left to worship elsewhere - either to a denomination (or not) that doesn't apologize when preaching the truth, or to heaven where the ultimate worship will take place at our Savior's feet...It's a shame, but I'm glad I'm no longer part of it."
Florida (pastor): "When my folks get the gist of nFOG when/if it passes, they will be clamoring to leave. We must be presbyterian in every way or in no way. To not be presbyterian in every way means that we will essentially be congregational in nature and the authority of presbytery/GA will be nil."
Pennsylvania (pastor): "When your soccer team comes to play over here, our rules say that my team will never be red-carded and you guys have to play with only 9 on the field against our 11. When we travel and are the visitors, you better play by our rules or I'm going to take away the ball; but if I can't, I guess I'll have to play - if I want to play - by your rules."
North Carolina (pastor): "Having been 'kicked to the curb' by the PCUSA two years ago, I suppose I no longer should have anything to say about its infatuation with apostasy. I don't think they want the coffin nailed at all, like some kind of non-dead zombie, or maybe even an undead vampire...They want to pretend that they are a living and vital part of the Body of Christ; though they ceased to be a long time ago...The nFOG had not yet rolled in when I was booted, but we knew it was coming. My only regret is that I wish I had known when the presbytery was going to kick me out, so I could have gone to the meeting and sung with Groucho, "Hello, I must be going."
Alabama (newswoman): "I love the name - nFOG! When it's foggy in the pulpit, it's cloudy in the pew!"
Ohio (pastor): "The bad guys are making their best effort to have their way; and damn anyone who doesn't like it. They failed at gaining their ends through persuasion and the vote. So the only option has been to change the process...All I see is that it will institute chaos in the PCUSA. One presbytery will do things one way, another a different way...I am sick at heart about this, because it is the realization of totalitarianism's approach of using the tools of democracy to destroy it...And I keep sending out my resume to evangelical, orthodox churches; hoping one will extend a call, even as I continue to shepherd the flock around me."
New Jersey (pastor): "Each governing body will set its own standards. It's consistent with the realities of society. Everyone is an expert. Everyone's word is as good as everyone else's word on any subject. It's going to be a free-for-all."
California (retired presbytery stated clerk): "There will be no outside controls of insider deals! nFOG demands trust to be effective. Ha! Trust is the last thing that we have in the PCUSA today!"
South Carolina (pastor): "Every presbytery will do whatever the hell it wants to do with no checks and balances. This will lead to total chaos when a pastor tries to transfer to another presbytery."
California (pastor): "Pretty much, yes...Thus, there will be so much litigation..."
South Carolina (pastor): "In a word, yes; and if you encourage people to withhold or redirect, you will be defrocked! We are moving from responsible connectionalism to evil hierarchy."
California (pastor): "Yes, in principle; but a little nuanced...Wealthier congregations may be directed to pay some or all of the per capita while other congregations may be excused entirely. If you don't have it, you won't pay it. But if you say you won't pay it, you better not have it."
West Virginia (pastor): "Louisville, short on money these days because people aren't going to support what they don't like, will do anything to squeeze the faithful to support their infidelities."
Indiana (pastor): "Sure, but when it's mandatory, churches will pay closer attention and then the real revolution will begin...Wait until folks pay attention to our per capita at work in the Washington Office! If you think people were ___ed before..."
Arizona (retired pastor): "Absolutely! This is shall rather than may language."
Connecticut (elder): "Don't be so naive. All the PCUSA cares about is money. Otherwise, it's do as you please."
Indiana (pastor): "It doesn't matter. No one will be able to force gay marriages on local congregations. On the other hand, local congregations that want to, will!"
Wisconsin (pastor): "Not sure. I think it's going to come down to state and federal law dictating to churches."
Arizona (retired pastor): "The disciplinary track will be harder to navigate. Though the definition of marriage will not be changed by nFOG, it will be relitigated. Conversely, because it's unlikely to be relitigated (Who is going to pay for attorneys to argue at multiple levels?), it will be license for proponents of gay marriage to do what they would like."
Arizona (elder): "The latter...Vote no!"
Missouri (pastor): "Connectionalism is dead if this passes...No accountability!...This will lead to political chaos!"
New Jersey (pastor): "Of course...Connectionalism has been unraveling for years...Church and society are dissolving. What's ahead? Only God knows!"
Florida (retired pastor): "Presbyteries will have absolute power over everything with no accountability to anyone!"
Texas (pastor): "nFOG is a Trojan Horse - the darling of those whose 'gospel' is all about the ordination of unrepentant practitioners of non-Biblical sexuality. Because the Book of Order isn't working for them, they want to get rid of it!"
Well, the preceding is admittedly unscientific and scattered; but representative of a growing anger and resentment toward whoever the hell is running the show in the PCUSA.
My guess - and I may be wrong - is the PCUSA may be very close to something like what just happened in Massachusetts: a strike against the empire!
God knows I don't know.
All I know is I feel blessed to be the pastor of a faithful family of faith in Belvidere that's trying to love Jesus by loving like Jesus in a presbytery that's still got a majority of pastors/churches that are trying to love Jesus by loving like Jesus.
As far as the franchise goes, all heaven or hell is about to break loose.
Blessings and Love!
Post a Comment