This last Sunday I finished leading a series of Sunday classes which focused on the main issues coming to the PC (U.S.A.) General Assembly. I tried to make sure I tied them to Scripture and the Confessions. This last class dealt with committee 6, Church Orders and Ministry, and in particular with ordination. I discovered as I went through the various overtures, which are attempting to remove G-6.0106b, that each seemed to make a specific appeal to some supposed fact in their rationale. So I took each one, looked at its main point and answered it.
I decided to rework my handout a bit and post it here:
Overtures on removal of G-6.0106b
· 06-06-Appeals to a hierarchy of authority, that is, Christ, Scripture and then Confessions.
Answer: There is no hierarchy-The Bible is the written word of God. Both Christ and his word have equal authority. For more on Christian authority see “To what authority must church officers submit?” at Faith and Polity Project.
· 06-07-Appeals to inclusiveness –an idea that “no one is left outside the City.”
Answer: Not being left outside the city has to do with redemption, not with Church offices. The scripture and the confessions are clear that those who hold church offices are meant to live as models for fellow believers. See 1 Tim.3 and Titus 1. And “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7)
· 06-08-Appeals to the grace of God- (See above)
· 06-09-Appeals to believer's lack of agreement, grace and that G-6.0106b is only applied to LGBT people.
Answer: There is agreement in scripture & confessions with the universal church. The practice of homosexual sex is sin. The issue is about not ordaining those who are unrepentant of their sexual sins. We are all sinners and we are all called to repentance. Those issues which are troubling the church today, and all sinful sexuality is included in the troubling, are the issues that must be dealt with today.
· 06-10-Appeals to the Scripture not being the word of God-with this line-“As Calvin understood, Scripture contains the word of God, but it is not the word of God. The result is that we depend on our confessions to inform the way we approach, read, understand, and interpret Scripture.” (Italics mine.)
Answer: This is what Calvin actually said, “All those who wish to profit from the Scriptures must first accept this as a settled principle, that the Law and Prophets are not teachings handed on at the pleasure of men or produced by men’s minds as their source, but are dictated by the Holy Spirit. … We owe to Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it.” (A statement from Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16)
· 06-12-Appeals to new revelation-“That God can speak a new word in a new time if God chooses to do so, through the living word, Jesus Christ.”
Answer: But the Word has already been spoken. “God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the world.” (Heb. 1:12) with this “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Any so called “new word” cannot change what the word of God has commanded.
· 06-13Appeal to a hierarchy of authority. See above 06-06
· 06-014-An appeal to the issue of divorce.
Answer: Divorce is acknowledged as a state of brokenness that must be repented of, with healing and transformation as the goal.
· 06-15-Hierarchy of authority-see above
· 06-16-“ “ “ “
· 06-17-An appeal to God’s love-
Answer: God is love yet real love offers truth and discipline. See Hebrews 12
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
‘My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives.’ (12:4-6)