It was almost thirty years ago in the parlor of Kansas City's 2nd Presbyterian Church.
Ted (RIP) and I were hosting a meeting of mainline clergy who still believed in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.
Ted asked, "Do you think the Bible is still the compass of mainline denominations?"
About 75% answered pejoratively.
I asked, "What percentage of mainlining clergywomen/men believe Jesus is who He said He is as confirmed in the Bible and upheld by most of their denominational constitutions?"
The highest estimate was 60%.
When word reached our regional denominational shill - uh, I mean bureaucrat, uh, I mean thought cop, uh, I mean executive/superintendent/bishop-hallucinating-inquisitor - Ted and I were scolded, "Whether you are right or wrong, you are upsetting people in the pews who don't need to know about the theological struggles and debates of our clergy."
Except for churches with the cajones as well as constitutional literacy to put guys like him in their place when it comes to picking a pastor, I was blackballed; reminding me of a young - though I was kinda young back then myself - kinda peer who scoffed when Ted and I urged taking on our franchise's establishment for Biblical Christianity, "It's O.K. for you guys to fight the ___s; but I can't afford to get a bad recommendation from our executive presbyter because I want to relocate and you know how he can..."
Bonhoeffer - not to mention Jesus which is fine with most mainliners - wrote/enfleshed something about that.
Moretheless, that was almost thirty years ago.
Recently, about three decades later, the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s Research Services released survey results betraying about 50% of pulpiteers/pewsitters in that leading loser of today's mainliners reject Jesus as the one and only way to salvation.
The lowlights of that report (viz., "Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians"):
45% of PCUSA pastors disagree that "only followers of Jesus can be saved."
60% of PCUSA "specialized" clergy (e.g., professors, chaplains, bureaucrats,
and the like) disagree that "only followers of Jesus can be saved."
According to one analyst who factored in "neutral" and "not sure" responses, 65% of the pastors and 78% of the "specialized" clergy reject Jesus as the one and only way to salvation.
Members and elders in the PCUSA answered similarly.
And so, as Emperor Joseph II said to Wolfie, "Well, there it is."
So how did it happen?
Here's my guess: (1) Young women and men who had just finished seven years or more of "higher" education in preparation for ordination as ministers of the Word and sacrament(s) really didn't understand the vows/promises/interrogatives-demanding-declaratives as in consonance with the Biblical witness to Jesus as upheld by their constitution; or (2) They lied to get ordained because, well, uh, they spent a lot of time and money to get to that point; or (3) They changed their minds as they reimagined Christianity from other sources considered to shed "more light" than traditionally and constitutionally confirmed.
Etiology aside, none of 'em have the integrity to demit.
Instead, like their beloved syncretists/secularists in American government/law/commerce/education who have succeeded in excluding Jesus and the Bible from public discourse/decision-making, they are succeeding in their darkly conspired quest to rid their denomination of Jesus and Biblical Christianity except by coincidence or when convenient to advance the dictates of Christocentric/Biblical social responsibility.
In other words, the illiterate at best and darkly defiant at worst have the votes.
Getting back to Wolfie and taking his words a tad out of context which should not trouble mainliners who've been doing that to Biblical Christianity for a long time according to that recent study that confirmed those suspicions so long ago in the parlor, Salieri's curse in the face of the crucifix seems hauntingly similar to the thanatos libido of mainliners: "From now on, we are enemies...I will block You. I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature as far as I am able."
Mozart's conclusion seems appropriate: "Confutatis maledictis."
That seems about right; though I leave it to God for his ultimate suspicion: "Flammis Acribus Adictis."
Ah, let's turn to the plain English of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s concern for an American government/law/commerce/education and church that forget about Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture: "The judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning...Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust."
Two months before being assassinated, he warned, "God has a way of putting nations in their place. The God that I worship has a way of saying, 'Don't play with Me! Don't play with Me, Israel! Don't play with Me, Babylon! Be still and know that I am God! And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power!"
I can hear Phil Ochs singing to America and her churches, "And here's to the land you've torn out the heart of..."
America's churches, especially in the old so-called mainline denominations, are disappearing as their witness to Biblical Christianity dissipates.
Blessings and Love!
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