Our presbytery voted 63-53 to amend the constitution of our franchise (PCUSA) to include enabling aka advocating same-sex nuptials on February 10, 2015.
Oh, yeah, there was one abstention.
Oh, yeah, we voted by - OOOOOOOooooooo, ssssssshhhhhhh, me-sooooooo-courageously-convicted-principled-for-Jesus - secret ballot.
We didn't sing, "Stand up, stand up for..."
Anyway, it was the funniest presbytery meeting that I've ever attended.
Oh, yeah, there was only one really not funny thing that happened but I promised not to write about that one.
I'm advocating our moderators handle it sooooooo someone like me who's still more afraid of God than...isn't tempted to bring it to the floor of the next stated meeting.
Still, I've got enough snippets so you can laugh avec moi...in a Psalm 2 kinda way.
The meeting began awesomely in worship.
The host pastors along with their worship folks put together a liturgy that was Biblically based, theologically sound, and, in short, unashamedly for Jesus by the book.
The "senior" pastor wrote the prayer of confession that, I think, must have slipped by presbyters who monitor that kinda stuff because it was so antithetical to the vote on nuptials: "Gracious Father, when Your people went out to gather manna on the Sabbath Day, You spoke to Moses saying, 'How long will you refuse to keep My commandments and laws?' We are no different than our ancestors. We think little of breaking Your commands when we think we know a better way, for our own convenience or when our fear of things running out overwhelms us. Forgive us Lord, for we covet our own way instead of walking with You in obedience. In the quiet of our own hearts, we confess our sin to you trusting in Your grace...Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy. Amen."
Considering what happened after worship, I really appreciated that Assurance of Pardon following that Prayer of Confession.
But it was kinda funny.
Every one of those 63 folks who voted for the amendment in secret - uh, read John 3:19-21 again; remembering the Bible is now one of many parallel witnesses to Christianity as defined by loins more than revelations from the Lord - prayed that Prayer of Confession so boldly and so publicly and so proudly.
I laughed all night about that one.
It just proves why emerging churches have thrown out unison and responsive rote readings.
Lots of folks go through the motions of mouthing words without really thinking about the meaning of what they're...
It reminds me of people who sing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
As a professor of homiletics on occasion, I was humbled by the sermon.
The exegesis of the text was masterful, the exposition was timely, and the rhetoric was engaging.
Some funny foreboding lines.
He cautioned us against eisegesis.
I'll get to that in the next section.
Referring to the forthcoming vote and other opportunities to be faithful or faithless, he knocked me out with this one: "The Lord will sort this out!"
C'mon, brother, ya gotta believe in God to believe you're gonna be, uh, you know, uh, most don't buy this any more, judged by God in the end.
Sloppy agape notwithstanding.
What a hoot!
Sloppy agape emanates from sloppy hermeneutics that emanates from "reimagined" revelation: "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say; but I think..."
The clerk of session of a particular church in the presbytery that has just about had it with the franchise wrote to me: "One thing I noticed was the lack of specific Biblical references by those in favor of the amendment. Did I miss them? Don't think so."
Well, there were a few attempts from the enabling/advocating side of the aisle that were hysterical.
Summarily, they came off as sooooooo untrained and unsophisticated to illiterate that I thought I was gonna go Animal House.
Then there was the Judge.
Help me, Jesus!
With fingers pointing and voice rising, he, basically, dogmatized us that civil law matters most in the church these days.
He should know!
He's the Judge!
I kept thinking of Sammy Davis, Jr. doing his "Here comes the Judge! Here comes the Judge!" routine back on Laugh In.
He said Jesus never "discriminated" against anybody about anything.
OOOOOOOhhhhhhh, my sides are killing me right now.
A presbyter was sooooooo amused by the Judge that he wrote a devotional about it later that same day (next section).
Scripture: Mark 7:26-30
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
This is an unlikely passage to pick for a devotion. It is an uncomfortable passage to read. In it Jesus calls a woman a “dog” for no other reason than she is a gentile. It stomps on our notions that Jesus would never discriminate against someone due to their race. This desire to make Jesus act in ways that he simply didn’t causes grave consequences for our overall ability to interpret scripture.
Was this sin on Jesus’ part or not? Jesus did eventually grant the woman her request. (That he exorcise the demon from her daughter.) Perhaps Jesus was just testing her to see how strong her faith was. But that is all conjecture. Nevertheless we cannot judge Jesus guilty of any sin because we cannot judge God. All we can say for sure is that it looks to human eyes as if Jesus did, in fact, discriminate.
Jesus did often discriminate. Particularly against the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his time. Jesus called their sin, sin. He didn’t hesitate in his judgment, and he certainly didn’t take a poll to see if 51% of respondents thought their sin was sin. Often we want to make Jesus into a fairy tale figure who is all nice and pretty and never offended anyone with his speech. But the plain truth is you don’t crucify someone like that.
So when someone tells you that Jesus would never discriminate against someone just because of who they fall in love with respond with the truth. If the scripture calls that “love” sin then it is sin and no amount of rhetorical polish can change that. You may get crucified for saying so, but then so did Jesus.
Lord, help us to live with open eyes. Both our physical eyes and the eyes of our hearts. Help us be willing to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. May our lives be marked by gentleness and respect in this regard. But help us speak the truth, nonetheless. May we always be willing to discriminate between the good, true and beautiful and its counterfeits regardless of the cost to us. Amen.
Comments almost made on the floor from one of our elders and founder/manager of www.bnnsradio.com:
When given this opportunity to speak before this council, I was thrilled. Because I have some definite opinions of this whole fiasco. But then I panicked, what can I say to a body of Spiritual leaders that would convince them to change their mind and agree with the way I, I, feel. I wrote down my thoughts and submitted them for editing. They were slightly edited but approved. However, I had a problem. The message was six and a half minutes long. Then, I found out, I only have two minutes to say something. I asked, what can a person POSSIBLY say in two minutes, which, has been debated for the past year, or more, that has not already been said. I read, studied and prayed, and finally decided, I can’t do it. I just can’t say anything. Then I had an epiphany, I wrote it down, (here it is) slightly over two minutes, but wow, I had done it. I sent it for editing. And you know what my response was, “Well said, mon ami. I would concentrate on marriage between gays and, also, because I know how folks are in the franchise, I would substitute "WE have a voice...” Wow, I received my ok to go ahead. Then on Saturday morning, it happened...
I was praying, God spoke to me and said, “Bill, you do not have a say in this matter. Nobody does. I have already written, and delivered, MY principles. If, the others do not understand them by now, they never will and I will deal with them in the end. I, always win in the end.”
I remind this council, (Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ.)
That being said, I yield the floor to those who feel that THEY have a voice, OVER GOD’S VOICE.
Comments made on the floor from four-term Mayor of Belvidere:
The actions being contemplated and acted upon by this Presbytery of Blackhawk and PCUSA will have profound consequences upon not only the generation represented by those acting, but also on our children’s generation and their children.
Compromise might be the core of democracy, but it is not the core of Christianity.
Listen again to God’s Word from the Bible in The Revelation of Jesus Christ addressing the compromising church in Pergamos, Chapter 2, Verses 12 – 16.
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword. “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of “Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”
Repent, in part, by voting “no” on the proposed amendment 14-F to the Constitution of PCUSA.
More from Fred:
Having attended my first Blackhawk Presbytery meeting and returning to Belvidere, I was exhausted. We spent a day deliberating on the book of Robert’s Rules of Order, as much or more than we spent deliberating on the Bible. And by the end of the day Robert’s Rules of Order prevailed over the Bible.
The primary business issue at hand was a debate as to whether or not the members of Blackhawk Presbytery would support a proposed amendment 14-F to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. (PCUSA).
The amendment changes the definition of marriage from a commitment between a man and a woman, to a commitment between two people.
A judge speaking in favor of the amendment introduced himself to the members of the clergy with, “I attended law school, and you attended divinity school”. Well, I attended Sunday school, so my remarks opposing the amendment focused on the Bible, by saying:
“The actions being contemplated and acted upon by this Presbytery of Blackhawk and PCUSA will have profound consequences upon not only the generation represented by those acting, but also on our children’s generation and their children.
Compromise might be the core of democracy, but it is not the core of Christianity.
Listen again to God’s Word from the Bible in The Revelation of Jesus Christ addressing the compromising church in Pergamos, (Rev 2, 12 – 16).
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth’.”
Repent, in part, by voting “no” on the proposed amendment 14-F to the Constitution of PCUSA.”
The amendment passed by a vote of 63 – 53, with one abstention.
The following morning I began my day, as I always do, with reading from Our Daily Bread. As is often the case, God used His sense of humor by titling the topic of the day: BACK FROM THE DEAD. Having just returned from Presbytery, I found that amusing.
Continuing with God’s humor, the story related an incident where a man was physically standing before a judge, trying to convince the judge the man was not dead. The judge wouldn’t buy it because the 3-year time limit for changing a death ruling had lapsed. I wondered to myself if perhaps the judge who spoke at Presbytery the day before and the judge in the story had gone to the same law school.
The story continues by referencing Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which “tells us that though we were spiritually dead, God ‘made us alive together with Christ’ (Eph. 2:1,5). Yet declaring and making us spiritually alive was a deeply painful matter for God. Our sin and its consequent spiritual death required the suffering, death, and resurrection of God’s Son (vv.4-7)”.
As one being on the record for opposing the action taken on this amendment, I am spiritually alive and will continue in the search for the sword of His mouth.
Elder Fred Brereton
First Presbyterian Church
Unless the franchise goes Kenyonesque, our family of faith at First Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois et moi will remain faithfully as a part of the remnant that still believes and prays/labors to follow Jesus by the book.
If the franchise goes Kenyonesque, turn out the lights, the party's over!
Let's stop pretending.
Let's be honest.
With the Bible and Book of Confessions relegated to an authority paralleled practically in polity by civil law (Here comes the Judge!), loins, and the latest ideological fad masquerading as theology, sons of anarchy have taken over in the PCUSA.
It's time to throw out all of those baptism/ordination/installation/membership/marriage/whatever Q&As 'cause who's gonna pick and choose which...
Ya can't ignore/defy some rules and expect other rules to...
Just admit it.
Process theology concomitant to progressive mobology now reigns in the PCUSA along with most mainline denominations in America just like it does in DC.
It's silly to long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
Annnnnnnd as long as "they" don't go Kenyonesque on the remnant in the PCUSA...
Blessings and Love!
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This is being sent to members of Blackhawk Presbytery of all theological/ideological persuasions along with elders and staff of Belvidere's First Presbyterian Church and selected friends/foes; urging you to forward it at your discretion because my address book does not include all members of the presbytery or anyone else interested in this matter.
Our presbytery will vote on "the amendment" on February 10, 2015 at Rochelle, Illinois' First Presbyterian Church.
While I will be voting against the amendment because I am convinced it is categorically antithetical to 2K+ years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity, I have pledged to officers and moderators of Blackhawk Presbytery that I will not speak to the substance of the AI or amendment because I've written enough about both since advocated by the 221st General Assembly in Detroit (June 2014); however, I will rise to rebuke acrimony from left or right during deliberations.
Though hoping otherwise, I expect our presbytery to affirm the amendment despite it being categorically antithetical to Jesus by the book; and will exercise my constitutional right immediately after the vote: "I ask the stated clerk to indulge my constitutional right to be recorded in the minutes by name and church as dissenting from the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly and our presbytery's vote to amend the constitution from marriage being 'between one man and one woman' to 'between two people' as categorically contradictory to over two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity."
Expecting the PCUSA to adopt the amendment by majority vote in the early months of 2015 and then begin a Kenyonesque crusade against dissent, I pray Blackhawk Presbytery will defy that impulse and remain true to its proclamation overwhelmingly adopted at its stated meeting on November 11, 2014: "Acknowledging same-sex nuptials are legal in Illinois and the PCUSA affords discretion to its teaching elders by the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly to preside or not preside at such rituals+ceremonies=rites and particular churches may host or not host such ordinances upon session approval subject to the review of higher judicatories, Blackhawk Presbytery will honor the consciences of teaching elders and particular churches within its bounds; noting its members are divided among those who embrace the authoritative interpretation as witness to progressive theology and those who reject it according to traditional Christianity. Presiding/participating teaching elders and hosting churches may exercise their consciences as permitted by the authoritative interpretation. No efforts to force teaching elders and sessions who decline to preside/participate/host will be encouraged, enabled, or condoned. Those who embrace and those who decline do not need to fear ministerial infringements or vocational reprisals in Blackhawk Presbytery."
Parenthetically, how we deport ourselves during deliberations on February 10 will have an extended impact upon the future shape and membership of Blackhawk Presbytery.
For example, our family of faith will be sending four elders to the meeting with two designated as commissioners. I have already reviewed the anticipated comments of one of our elders; and while affirming content, I am also reminded of the gravity of this kairos moment for our presbytery as well as franchise.
Personally, I approach this moment as one just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book. I may be wrong about what I have said and written. If you think I am wrong, I invite you to show me how I am wrong by the example of Jesus, revelations of Holy Scripture, and common sense. If I am wrong, I will confess my sin, pray and labor to repent, and ask forgiveness from our Lord, you, and anyone that I have hurt, misled, or otherwise offended by my sin. But if you are saying I am wrong by a worldly standard, tradition, prejudice, political correctness, or any idolatry antithetical to Jesus, the Bible, and common sense, please do not waste my time with your infidelities.
I will remain faithfully.
That is part of my irresistible call.
By God's grace overcoming my carnal instincts, I agape everyone, pray His best for all, and will labor for indiscriminate kindness.
Blessings and Love!
Hey, the parts don’t fit and life expectancy tells the tale!
I think I like Fred!
BTW, I attended "Divinity" school and law school. The judge is a theological AND legal putz!
The first clue that he knew he was making a baseless argument was when he tried to shut down opposition with his "I know better than you" remark.
That's akin to you and I discussing theology and me asserting that I know better about it because I graduated from Fuller and you, only lowly Princeton. It may be that St. Andrews gives you a leg up!
Thanks, Bob, I'm glad to finally know God's word to your commissioner!!
I`am sad about the 63-53 vote.
It tells me that the PCUSA does not believe what the Bible says.
Our new name can be.
The Church that goes by the Bible. At Family of Faith on the corner of Lincoln an Main. We will not Falter at this Church we will stand Firm. We are a Remnant Church. God Bless Our Family of Faith. Amen
Well said and well done brother,
Although I believe God called me and the congregation I serve to move to another "franchise" (Where we are flourishing in a healthier ECOsystem), I continue to pray regularly for the PCUSA and those, like you, called to remain as a vital witness. Well done, good and faithful servants!
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