While I've been around long enough that I don't get bugged by it anymore, I used to have panic attacks whenever somebody would say, "Pastor, I'm not going to talk about it right now, but I'm going to bring up something at our next session meeting."
I've never liked ambushes since a close friend died in one not long after I graduated from high school.
That's why I've almost always alerted folks to interrogatives or exclamations that I'm gonna bring to meetings.
I don't like surprises...unless, you know, it's a favorite Cuban or the keys to a Ford 150 or something.
It's a Matthew 7:12 thing for me.
Recently, it came to my attention that lots of pastors in our denomination are more than allowing, applauding, and advocating same-sex nuptials.
Laced with an in-yo-face stench directed at evangelicals like me who used to be in the majority, they're boasting about it.
Indisputably, it's their right to preside at those rites in the PCUSA.
Evangelicals in the PCUSA are an increasingly decreasing and marginalized minority.
Anxiety is growing.
Hence, an emerging question for PCUSA evangelicals: "While pastors remaining in the franchise have acquiesced to the majority even if they think same-sex nuptials are an affront to over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity, how long will it be before those who say they won't can't keep ordinations/credentials in the franchise anymore?"
Blackhawk Presbytery, a regional part of the franchise, has a stated meeting next week.
Rather than ambush anybody, I'm going to ask two questions right now that I think must be answered sooner than later or more churches aren't going to wait anymore and exit:
1. Knowing the majority allows, applauds, and advocates same-sex nuptials, how does Blackhawk Presbytery regard candidates for ordination and pastors who feel called to our presbytery who don't?
2. If the highest court of our denomination mandates all pastors to allow, applaud, and advocate same-sex nuptials, how will Blackhawk Presbytery regard currently installed pastors who won't?
It's a clarifying moment for Blackhawk Presbytery.
Four churches have left Blackhawk Presbytery over the past few years: First Aurora, Kishwaukee, Westminster Aurora, and Bethany.
Essentially, they left because they're convinced the PCUSA has abandoned over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity.
For varieties of reasons - fainthearted to bravehearted - some, like me, have remained.
But there's a growing anxiety and...
A few assurances and answered questions may help.
Of course, privately, I've asked these questions.
Enough not said.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
I think if all Pastors really went by the Bible verse by verse. This country would be in better shape. God Bless Dr Kopp for going by the book.
A third question you can ask at the presbytery meeting, "How long will you allow
an organization, OnebyOne, that says NO to same sex marriage be allowed at GAs
as a vendor in the Assembly Hall?" OnebyOne has been at 17 GAs speaking sexual
truth into the madness.
I'll keep on praying you and all the faithful pastors of Blackhawk Presbytery
I will keep you in my prayers!
I think both requests will be received with "love". I also believe that "we" are not in the minority. There are elders who agree with us, but want to support their pastor. There are Pastors who do not want to make waves, regardless of the cost. There are pastors who think their future depends on going with the flow. I may not be there. I just donated 12 stones one day, and a Swedish gall bladder the next day, and now they what more. I will be going back soon for having more stones removed. If you want them tell me. I'd rather give them to you, to cast at the right Eccleslastes 3 time.
My prayers are with you, brother, as well as my thanks to Him for you always modeling Someone better pour moi.
Dear Bob, sorry I missed you at your 40th PTS reunion last month--I'll show up next year for my 40th. Regarding your most recent koppdisclosure, I have come to the same conclusion as you--the last straw for me and other evangelicals will be when the PCUSA makes it mandatory for all MoWS to participate in the ordination or marriage of self-affirming, practicing gays & lesbians, or to make a public personal apology to them. In April I wrote a paper on the results of the Theological Presbyterian Panel of 2016, and was shocked at how many respondents were non-committal about whether Jesus was born of a Virgin--neither for the Virgin Birth nor against it, don't know about it, don't care about it, or couldn't commit to it. I invented the term "apatheology" to describe the phenomenon of not caring about theology any more. The PCUSA has not come up with a new confession of faith in 115 years that is fully orthodox & reformed, dots all the i's and crosses all the t's--not since the "Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith" written in 1902, and included on p. xlii of every copy of the 1933 green Hymnal. The absence of a new confession of faith that is "fully orthodox & reformed" since then has not driven the evangelicals out of the PCUSA. But if the PCUSA goes "Kenyon" on us, that's the last straw.
After Gillespie and our P Jaz-I, the syncretists took over and I just haven't felt the inclination to go back. While I have warm recollections of some professors, trustees, and classmates... Be that as it is, please accept my open invitation for a meal and Cuban if you are in our neck of the war!
Bob, of course they will Kenyonize all this. I’ve been saying that publicly and privately for decades. That’s why I said some 20 years ago we all should have left as a group then… it’s as clear and as inevitable as the sun rising in the east…when the radicals got the majority, the Titanic got the iceberg. Continuing that analogy, staying has accomplished absolutely nothing, while leaving would have freed untold tons of energy for things that actually aren’t a waste of time… with all due respect to your colleague who famously said, “stay! the PCUSA is the best mission field in the world”, I would love to know the names of — more than two or three — radical liberals in the PCUSA who have actually come to (the real) Jesus… the one or two that have have not been worth all our vast energies, which would have been (far) more effectively used elsewhere. the only reason we haven’t left is just our discernment that doing so would be a lot of local hassle & distraction from our local mission...
If these questions get asked, it won’t matter what the verbal response is. Either they will say, “oh, no, no, no, we’d NEVER do that to you!!” — which will soon prove to be a lie on the “pants on fire” level. or they will avoid the question somehow. or the bolder ones will say, “yes, either you Archie Bunkers bow the knee to Baal or you bet we’ll boot you out” (the latter candidness would actually be refreshing). or they will just shout at us in plenary, as has been done to me & more recently, my sister in law.
The left considers me a pathological liar (by their direct statements to me) and somewhere to the right of said Archie. Neither are remotely accurate. So I’m supposed to trust whatever they say on the floor of Presbytery on what basis exactly?
p.s. re: John 17 and unity. Jesus is clearly speaking here to the unity of believers: not just those mouth “Lord, Lord, did we not..?” Those who have recently revealed that they think Allah is a pretty peachy guy with just another name for God DON’T qualify as believers: under any true reformed theology in any galaxy I’ve ever been in. So John 17 is irrelevant to this discussion….
meanwhile, you guys are great and I appreciate each one of you!!! but let’s stop wasting energy on this deck chair rearranging and focus it on our BPF stuff! love in Jesus
So I just received the mailing for the PCUSA Big Tent event. Looking at the conference - Why on earth do they call it Big Tent? I would think it would mean including everyone into the big tent - that is everyone but those right of center … or even in the center. Sad!
Sorry - just venting.
Yes, good response. I have to be honest - as you know ECO has been on my
radar since its beginning and I am more and more drawn to it these days.
I am writing to you as my friend who I respect professionally - presbytery's PC has documented evidence in a review just a few years ago - and as SC/GP; copying presbyters, elders on the corner of Lincoln and Main, friends in our presbytery who share my concern and need encouragement, and selected others.
A personal response is not necessary; but I hope you will grant my request as irenic, redemptive, and, maybe, a positive way for us to encourage evangelicals to overcome temptations to quit and split. As we have discussed during the Bethany departure as part of the AC, the door is wide open for evangelicals to bolt. The precedent has been set and legal gymnastics will not be able to force anyone to stay any longer. The only thing that could stem the tide is assurances through answers to the interrogatives
Parenthetically, while I know not many actually read what I write with my combined six books running about a trillion to one behind the toothy guy in Texas which our Lord must be using to force humility, I have written for years why I pray and labor to remain faithfully in a denomination that... Well, I don't need to repeat any of that. All I will say now is rereading my Bonhoeffer books the week before May 8 have emboldened my passion for His high priestly prayer and being a missionary to mainline denominations like ours.
Lamenting crickets related to my currently posted KD (link below) with feedback that is ominous and knowing, as a Rockford street preacher likes to say, "You can't fix what you won't face," I don't think we can avoid candid commentary on the interrogatives without increasingly schismatic incentives.
Failure to address the concern will be understood as a political tactic born of intellectual dishonesty, spiritual deceit, and emotional manipulation...or apathy...as in we really don't care if more churches leave Blackhawk Presbytery.
Again, my hope and prayer is you will encourage CPM and COM to address the interrogatives with dispatch and report back to presbytery asap or before more churches take the silence as incentive to...
You know I have no need or desire to speak at presbytery meetings; just like I lost my need and desire to speak outside of worship hours on the corner of Lincoln and Main because my overwhelmingly enduring call is as First's undershepherd, liturgist, and homiletician.
So I am asking you to bring up these questions during your report and ask CPM and COM to address them and report back.
In a Wittenbergian kinda way, my goal is to provoke pastoral discussion within the parameters of our polity that will result in encouragement for our evangelicals to remain faithfully.
Remember, Luther never wanted to quit and split. He nailed his theses to the Castle Church door on October 31, 1517 to provoke academic discussions resulting in peace, unity, and purity through/in/for Jesus. Only when the church persisted to insult God by persecuting his call to fidelity did Luther feel compelled to break away. That was never his intention.
We are reminded often that it was never the intention of First Aurora, Kishwaukee, First Westminster, or Bethany to break away; and call me naive, wrong, or deluded but I think they would still be in our presbytery if their witnesses, previously the predominant witness of the franchise, were respected and guarded. Call me naive, wrong, or deluded but I still believe they would be faithful members of our presbytery if convinced our "tent" is "big" enough to include them.
I trust you will seize this kairos moment as our most visible pastor to pastors and the churches of Blackhawk Presbytery.
Blessings and Love
Appreciated your last 2 blurbs and honor/praise your decision to remain to be faithful to Jesus, the book and ord. vows.
Thou art pissing into the wind, brother.
Or casting pearls before swine.
Come and join me.
Dear Bob, thanks for your latest e-mail--I've encouraged our group in Philly to check it out. The anxiety about the PCUSA's going Kenyon, or about "what might happen if", is weighing heavily on remaining evangelical churches
Dear PEPNE, our next lunch is planned for the 3rd Tuesday, 6/20/17, noonish at the 4 Seasons Diner, Cottman just NE of the Boulevard. I have extra bulletins from Bill's funeral. We'll talk about the summer schedule. Don't forget, Heidi Hankel's installation service at Bethesda is this Sunday, 6/11 at Bethesda at 4 p.m. BTW please check out Bob Kopp's latest on www.koppdisclosure.com as he tries to get Blackhawk Presbytery to answer some questions about the "Kenyon option"--what would Blackhawk do if some day the PCUSA were to require all MoWS to perform same-sex marriages or to ordain self-affirming, practicing gays & lesbians or to apologize to them publicly for previously opposing these measures. His intention is "irenic & redemptive", his goal is to keep evangelical churches from bolting.
My heart goes out to you as you struggle with such ugly apostacy in the church. Melanie and I are reading through the Bible out loud every morning year by year from the ESV study Bible schedule.
Moments ago we read from Proverbs 5, Solomon's warnings not to take up with the forbidden woman. She doesn't even know where she is and where her path takes her. Read it before asking the two questions! Our prayers from KC for you: but don't follow, lead, the adulterous woman if she will follow. Otherwise, sweet as honey will later become bitter as wormwood.
How sad, Bob, that we come to the end of our several ministries, yours pastoral and mine in Scouting, only to see our heart’s desire ripped from its moorings by those who have lost sight of the original mission. It is profoundly disturbing to see the erstwhile mainline churches become sideline churches. The Protestant voice is muted in our land and only the voice of Pope Francis is heard. The sad part is that those in control do not seem to have the foggiest idea that what they are doing is destroying for generations to come that which they pretend to hold dear. They are moving in tandem with the PCUSA. I thank God that son Cliff, jr. left the PCUSA while there was time to enjoy a ministry unshackled from the oppressive bureaucrats in what will soon be one of the largest real estate companies in the country. It’s too bad that your bold fight to influence the PCUSA will end up in the same scrap heap as my many letters to the BSA. Liberal hearts and minds are hardened beyond belief. Blessings on you as you continue your struggle to be a light in the darkness.
It may not have started in Blackhawk, but in other locations ... well ..
Many of you may know Toby Brown. He's moving from being Reformed to Orthodoxy, and he's writing some posts to give some background as to why. He's given the OK to share this with others.
My first essay/reflection in this series is about Mission Presbytery. This will be my most difficult post. I intend to do some hard-hitting truth-telling about what happened to me after Marcie's death and how much "love" I was shown by an organization that I once considered to be family. This will offend some of you. But I don't care. This is what happened and this was a big reason why I quit the PCUSA and pastoral ministry.
From 2001-2008 I was a Minister of Word and Sacrament in Mission Presbytery, a regional gathering of churches in the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination. During that time the church was embroiled in a number of huge controversies, on topics like secular politics, institutional in-fighting, sexuality and ordination standards for clergy. Initially, I had been indifferent to these discussions as a new pastor fresh from seminary with a head full of irrelevant ideas.
But in 2003 something within me changed. I ran out of things to preach about. My Bible studies got stale. I was treading water. So, I dove into the deeper waters of faith, looking for the true meaning of pastoral ministry. In that search I discovered not only that my seminary training had neglected the most important aspects of life: namely the Gospel, but also that my denomination seemed far distant from that Gospel I had discovered.
And so, I entered the fray of denominational discourse on the controversies we faced. I opened a blog: A Classical Presbyterian. I wrote essays and articles and was published in journals and even once in the Wall Street Journal! I had engaged my presbytery and denomination for the cause of maintaining our traditional, Biblical standards of ministry and I fought as hard as I could to maintain the heritage handed down to us from our forebears.
Well, we lost. The forces of redesign and revisionism won. Since 2012 the PCUSA has become an institution almost unrecognizable to traditional Protestants. But this is not the point of this reflection. It is merely a point of reference for what is to come. You need to know the results of the conservative/orthodox/evangelical efforts to save the church. We failed.
__ end of part 1 ____
----- Part 2 -----
Now, continuing my story, although I had engaged in these debates, I was NEVER outside the bounds of our polity. I was never accused of any wrongdoing or any violation of our constitution. This is a critical point to be understood. Before, during and after these activities/activism, I was never accused of any wrongdoing. I was merely being an advocate with all of my writing and speaking powers, as ineffective as they turned out to be.
Fast forward to 2016. For several years I had been uninvolved in ANY political activism in my church. I had only pastored a small rural congregation with love and devotion. The battles were over anyway. What more was to be done? I labored in the church as a pastor of souls, doing nothing even remotely controversial, short of not using the new hymnals.
Then, in the space of three weeks, my wife was diagnosed with cancer and died. Being in remote Sanderson with my two children, so far from family became intolerable. So, in three months, I applied to a congregation very close to our family in Round Rock. This church was perfect for us! And, the search committee loved me! It FINALLY seemed like God had provided a way out of our misery, with a glimmer of some good amidst the disaster.
Three days after setting up a visit to finalize the call process with this congregation, I get a call from a member of the presbytery Committee on Ministry. He informs me that I will not proceed in the call and there is nothing more to be done. That's it. No meeting with the COM will be had. No information on why is given. Just that I'm done.
For the sake of brevity (ha!) I will not go into all that went on as to what I tried and the church tried to get this ruling reversed. But it all failed. Despite this blatant violation of presbyterial polity, I was blackballed. I was exiled. I was dead to them. With not one word of explanation.
___ End of Part 2 _____
----- Part 3 -----
Needless to say, I got the message. I was dirt to them. Almost 20 years of faithful service meant that I was almost less than a bug that they could swat. My wife grew up in Mission Presbytery. She was ordained there and helped plant a church there. Some of the people had even attended her funeral three months before! And these were the "Christian" leaders who claimed that they served Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
That month I made up my mind: I would no longer serve within that denomination. Unless it is a wedding or funeral, I would no longer set foot within any of their church buildings. Within five months I resigned my pastoral postion in Sanderson and was released from ordained ministry by my presbytery of Tres Rios.
But do you know what really sticks with me? The silence. I have received not one letter from any PCUSA organisational body about any of this. Even my resignation and ending of 20 years as a Minister of Word and Sacrament within that organization. Not a peep.
And you know what? I'm fine with that. They are dead to me. The false faces, the corrupt back room deals, the shady money grabs and false piety. The organization is a whitewashed tomb and its tongue an open grave. But I AM FREE. I am no longer their bondservant. I owe them nothing and never will again. Praise be to God almighty, amen.
Now, I know my reflections and truth telling will hurt some of you. Many of my friends are still within the PCUSA and even Mission Presbytery. But now you know what they did to me. Now you know what kind of leaders you have. I don't judge any of you for staying. Your life is only your own. But for those within that organization who read these words, you KNOW who these people are and what they have done. But this is a small slice of the evil committed. Just ask Hector Reynoso and the others they have chosen to persecute. I am in GOOD company.
As a Christ follower, I must end this first essay with a note of forgiveness and hope. I forgive them the wrongs done to me and my grieving family. They are trapped in a false religion and are deep in sin. They need to know the true Lord and meet him in His true Church. But I hold no ill will. I pray they will see the truth and repent. And I also pray that I will be forgiven MY sins and MY transgressions in this.
But now you see a part of why. A glimpse of why I decided to take the narrow path, the difficult journey to eternal life. That broad, easy road leads to destruction. For me and my house, we are turning East, towards the rising sun and the grace-filled Mysteries of the Orthodox Church. But, that's for another essay. :) Peace be with you all!
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