Wednesday, June 11, 2014
GA 2014 - die Abfall oder die Erweckung?
GA starts meeting on June 14 at the Cobo Center in Detroit and ends on June 21.
GA is short for General Assembly - the biennial meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that is supposed to make decisions that will advance the Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven" as supposedly guided by a Book of Confessions and Book of Order supposedly based on the Bible.
Of course, for many Christians still remaining on the rolls in the franchise aka denomination increasingly decreasing in membership and cultural influence, connections between recent decisions along with unchecked constitutional defiance from left and right seem startlingly coincidental to its books.
Indeed, many Presbyterians who still love Jesus by the book hold their breath as recent GAs seem determined to "amend" the answer to the first question of The Shorter Catechism: "Our chief end is to horrify God, and to annoy Him forever."
Simply, it almost seems recent GAs are darkly determined to drive off as many people as probable who love Jesus by the book by actions antithetical to Jesus by the book.
This year's docket continues the lamentable trend.
Commissioners - ruling elders (non-clergy) and teaching elders (clergy) in theoretically equal numbers augmented by bureaucratic staff/watchdogs programmed to make sure the elders don't drift too far from "their" priorities - are being asked to allow member churches to host same-sex weddings, replace the Biblical understanding of marriage including a woman and man with "two people," create some kinda task force to keep talking about same-sex marriages until the PCUSA pastors who don't think so wear out or walk out to allow those who think so to preside at 'em, divest from companies who do too much business with Israel because it hasn't been very nice to Palestinians, abandon the Biblical "covenant" of affirming Israel as special to God as Holy Scripture is revised again to fit into the most popular ideology masquerading as theology, advocate female and just-about-any-kinda-sexual-lifestyle for leadership in the Boy Scouts of America, and...ad nauseam.
Parenthetically, I keep wondering why some franchise jingoists - mindless drones who embrace any decision from GA regardless of correspondence to Jesus by the book - wonder why more and more and more folks are withholding or redirecting contributions and "voluntary" per capita apportionments as they just take the lead from them about divestment from companies/organizations/tribes that tick 'em off.
Be that as it is and seems will be until the franchise's thanatos libido is totally satisfied, I'm asking you to join our friends in Presbyterian Elders in Prayer (www.presbypray.org) to encourage everyone everywhere regardless of franchise to pray for the rebirth of the PCUSA according to Holy Scripture in the name of Jesus as chastened to confession and repentance and compelled by the Holy Spirit in a Romans 12 kinda way.
Ya can't renew something/someone that ain't been newed.
I'll probably be called a troublemaker for what I just wrote; noting I've often thought I'd rather be called a heretic by heathens than blasphemer by people who still pray and labor to love Jesus by the book.
I'll probably be accused of upsetting the peace, unity, and purity of the franchise for what I think; noting I have no heaven idea what "their" standards are for heralding peace, unity, and purity because I was called, nurtured, examined, and ordained to undershepherding by previous generations of Presbyterians who prayed and labored to love Jesus by the book and books based on the book (viz., BC and BO).
I'll probably be called some kinda theological Neanderthal for still thinking Christianity is only about Jesus by the book rather than books about the book that always seem to rationalize us away from Jesus by the book to satisfy the twitchings in apostasizing heads, hearts, guts, and, uh, loins.
Uh, I'm used to it.
After four decades of undershepherding, I've been called so many things; and, really, I'd rather be called a fool for Jesus by the book than a fool for whatever foolishness is masquerading as Christianity with only coincidental correspondence to Jesus by the book.
Truth is sooooooo many people are sooooooo offended by just about anything from anyone that everybody's a troublemaker of some kind in sooooooo many people's estimation.
Everybody's a troublemaker to someone about something.
All ya gotta do these days is look at someone the wrong way or not look at someone the right way or not yield the right of way or yield the right of way the wrong way or just quote Jesus by the book and you're considered a mean, nasty, and abusive troublemaker.
It's like I tell young pastors who want to be liked by everybody in their churches: "Forget it! And look up what Jesus said about being liked by everybody! I don't think so! Here's the vocational deal. You're gonna be damned if you do and damned if you don't. What a liberating reality! Knowing you're gonna be damned if you do and damned if you don't, forget about doing that damned kinda stuff and bring some heaven into your church by talking about Jesus by the book. Give 'em the Gospel! That'll shock 'em!"
Sooooooo what kinda troublemaker are you?
Against Jesus by the book?
For Jesus by the book?
Are you one of those folks who see God in the mirror and declare during deliberations, "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say; but I think..."?
Are you one of those folks who bow your head, heart, guts, and loins before Him and confess, "Lord, I know I'm a sinner; but I will not confuse my sin with Your will as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture. Your not my will be done 'on earth as it is in heaven'"?
Elijah comes to mind.
He was called a troublemaker because he refused to go with any flow that wasn't within the movement of the Spirit.
You know the most famous chapter in his story.
He beat up the bad Baal religionists who were no match for him because, as Jesse Jackson likes to say, "God+you=majority."
My favorite part of the story is when Elijah shows up and says to King Ahab who always seemed to have a Jezebel of a time staying faithful to God and the people of Israel who always seemed to be bantering and moaning about something/someone and then getting mesmerized by their idolatries that distracted 'em from fidelities by the book, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! If Baal, then follow him...and go to hell!"
If that doesn't sound like GA 2014 - die Abfall oder die Erweckung.
It reminds me of Dr. McCord who often talked about the state of mainline franchises like the PCUSA - BTW, this story has parallels with all of the current increasingly apostate sisters to the PCUSA - by telling a little story about two guys at a cocktail party.
First guy: "I don't know who I am, what I'm doing, where I'm going, or what it's all about."
Second guy: "Don't worry about it! Your pastor and church are going through the same thing!"
I'm also reminded of Bill Thompson, long-time stated clerk of whatever franchise preceded the current one, who said to me in 1975 when I asked why he turned down a nomination to become a federal judge, "There are many federal judges; but only one stated clerk."
Then there was this meeting in Aurora, Illinois a few years ago with about twenty of our presbytery's most out-spoken theological Neanderthals like me. One of 'em who must have been stoned or trippin' kept going on and on and on about how we could reverse the increasingly apostate trends in the franchise by educating the membership about Jesus by the book. Two others who have been on the wagon long enough to be sober about it all said simultaneously, "We've lost! Deal with it! We're never going to get it back. The challenge for us now is to protect our congregations from the wolves at our doors while trying to be personally faithful in a denomination where faithfulness no longer exists."
Here's another one with metaphorical value. I attended a presbytery meeting in Sterling, Illinois on Tuesday (6/10). I had been up since 3:30 a.m. and asked if the coffee was loaded. The hostess replied, "We only serve 'Presbyterian' coffee here! Decaf." Selah.
I guess it all comes down to this for Presbyterians and sister franchisers who still love Jesus by the book and seem to be outnumbered in their neighborhoods.
Do you/we have the, uh, faith to keep keepin' on and, like Elijah with a plethora of Biblical personal parallels, tell the increasing number of apostates that they're, as Jesus said, "making people twice as fit for hell as they are themselves" knowing that we'll be called mean, nasty, and abusive troublemakers for the telling the truth by the book in the name of Jesus as compelled by the Holy Spirit?
Let's face it.
They've won...for now; buuuuuuut in the end, He wins!
Sooooooo following the lead of heroes like Luther and Bonhoeffer and so many like 'em with Jesus as the ultimate model/Master, let's not run away, hide, or quit.
Let's keep salting and shining in the meantime.
I mean, uh, if Jesus can go to the cross for us/them...
Besides, why would anyone leave one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination?
They're all sooooooo human.
As Harold always told people when they transferred their pathologies to us and threatened to leave, "If you find that perfect church, don't join it because it won't be perfect anymore if you do!"
No wonder so many of us find more comfort in predestination than volition.
It kinda frees ya up to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus by the book while too many, uh, things are going to, uh,...
Yep, heaven is for real and so is...
That's something/Someone to keep in mind while praying or participating in the next GA or...
Blessings and Love!
I asked friends who are familiar with the franchise to prognosticate about the possible ramifications of this year's GA; promising, "I will not identify anyone by name because big brother will come after you if..."
Here's what I gotta say to anyone else who responds, "You're not on your own. If you're with Him, He's with you. It's among the most consistent themes of Holy Scripture."
Let's start with someone close to me: "The PCUSA is irretrievably apostate under current management."
Mentor in New Jersey: "John 15:5."
Important Pastor in Bay Area: "Our beloved mother church is about to shoot herself in both feet by voting in gay marriage and voting out peacemaking in Israel; historic theology and personal relationships remain our strength while common sense and non-popularized and politicized thoughtfulness are pushed away as if by a military zeal."
Pastor in South Carolina: "Never have so few expected so little from so clueless."
Former Staff Member of our Last Great President: "The pro-Islamist faction will finally succeed in radicalizing the PCUSA as the first mainline church openly anti-Israel and boycotting purchases and investments linked to Israel."
Pastor in Illinois with Clearing Discernment: "To quote Saruman in the Lord of the Rings: 'So you have chosen death.' The PCUSA/GA is like a Stage 4 lung cancer patient who has decided that the best way to treat his pathology is to smoke twice as many cigarettes, twice as fast."
Executive Presbyter: "The darkhorse issue will concern the fate of the OGA/PMA."
Editor of My Favorite Website: "Who am I to rule out the possibility that God in His grace will surprise us as I believe He did in 2012?"
Christian Radio Manager: "The church cannot duck these questions Scripturally."
Former Pastor in PCUSA: "A continued and deeper descent into apostasy and depravity."
Proverbial Founder of the CCM and Commissioner to GA: "This assembly will be the nail in the coffin. Our evangelicals are but a remnant that can only provide a prophetic voice. The denomination is lost and gone down the hedonistic path."
Buddy in Pennsylvania Who, Unlike Moi, Gets Recognized by our Author Advocacy Group: "I believe the nearest clothing store will run out of garments of self-justification in which we will wrap ourselves."
Commissioner from My Favorite Presbytery: "Whatever happened to obedience to the WORD of GOD?"
Photojournalist in Pennsylvania: "How appropriate for the PCUSA to hold its convention in Detroit! A dying denomination in a dying city!"
Lawyer in Pennsylvania: "PCUSA? Is this even a viable organization? Or is it another group like the Baptists, Methodists, UCC, and the like fighting for institutional survival as their local churches fade away?"