The Declaration, he has posted, was written in 1996 by a group of pastors including Anderson and my first Presbyterian pastor Darrell Johnson. When I saw it on Anderson's blog I was amazed at its relevance for the Church today. Because I believe Jesus is calling the Church to confess I am also placing it on my blog. I pray it will be received by many.
*A PRESBYTERIAN DECLARATION
As forgiven sinners and disciples of Jesus Christ, we are troubled by the deep divide that is rending the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The division is rooted in two foundational questions:
1. Confusion over the identity of Jesus Christ, as well as the nature and extent of his redemptive work on the cross confirmed by his bodily resurrection;
2. Confusion over the place of Scripture and the extent to which it is the supreme and authoritative standard for our faith and moral behavior.
Among other places, this twofold confusion is manifesting itself in the painful debate over the combined questions of sexuality, standards of behavior, and ordination.
As men and women who have taken vows that we "receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do," while we "promise to further the peace, unity and purity of the church" (G-14.0207), we publicly declare the following:
1. "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (II Timothy 3:16).
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments stand as the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ while providing the supreme and decisive standard for faithful living in obedience to his gospel.
We affirm that the Scriptures have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men; for God spoke to the prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures. (Second Helvetic, BC 5.001).
We affirm that the historic confessions of the Presbyterian Church are authentic and reliable expositions of Scripture, articulating truthful descriptions of our Triune God, humankind, God's redemptive work through Jesus Christ, and both general and specific imperatives for faithful living in response to and cooperation with our redemption. We therefore submit all insights and experiences to the authority of Scripture.
We reject any and all statements and actions that deny the reliability and pertinence of the confessions as a standard to lead, guide and instruct us in what Scripture teaches us to believe and do.
2. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and lived among us." (John 1:1, 14) Jesus Christ is at once fully God and fully human; of the same substance with God, yet having two natures; "one who is a true and righteous man and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God." (Heidelberg Catechism --BC 4.015).
We affirm the witness of the Scripture and the historic declarations of the early church creeds, reaffirmed in the Reformation confessions, that Jesus Christ is both human and divine, the eternal Son of God, yet born of a virgin. He entered human life, was tempted as we are, suffered, was crucified, died and was buried, then rose from the grave. He ascended to heaven, exercises final authority over all creation, and is to be worshiped along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
We reject any and all statements and actions that intentionally or unintentionally degrade, diminish or deny the witness of the Scripture and confessions regarding: the identity of Jesus Christ; his earthly life, ministry and significance; or his position and authority as exalted Lord.
3. "But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh." (Mark 10:6-8).
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves…while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:22-23).
We live in a rebellious and broken world. This includes our sexuality. We all are broken in our sexuality. There are no exceptions. God's intention from the beginning is that men and women, complementing each other as male and female, would reflect together the image of God in their humanity. "The relationship between man and woman exemplifies in a basic way God's ordering of the interpersonal life for which he created mankind. Anarchy in sexual relationships is a symptom of man's alienation from God, his neighbor and himself." (The Confession of 1967 - BC 9.47).
We affirm that our sexuality is faithfully expressed in many ways, in marriage and in singleness, in sexual love and in other acts of love. We affirm that sexual love is blessed by God, is one expression of our gender complementarity that fully reflects God's image, and is intended only for the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.
We affirm that men and women may pursue fully satisfying and fulfilled lives outside of marriage, practicing chastity in obedience to Christ, while supported in the struggles and loneliness of life by the fellowship of the church.
We affirm that temptations and inappropriate desires are experienced by all people, but are not sin. Entertaining, nurturing, or acting on temptation and desire is sin. The honoring of sexual boundaries, in both thought and deed, as established in the Scriptures and re-iterated in the confessions, provides an environment within which life and relationships can flourish. This is God's intention for God's Kingdom.
We reject any and all statements and actions that intentionally or unintentionally bless human conditions and behaviors as either gifts from God or faithful responses to God which, nevertheless, stand in contradiction to God's revealed will for human relationships. We refuse to condone what God intends to redeem. Redefinitions of either marriage or sexual boundaries to accommodate culture, experience, political pressure, or even loved ones are further expressions of our brokenness and confusion. Such redefinitions and accommodations deny biblical notions of fidelity and integrity and further alienate us from God, each other and ourselves.
4. "Wretched one that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:24-25) "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (I Corinthians 1:18).
The Scriptures describe the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross in a variety of ways; it is "the sacrifice of a lamb, a shepherd's life given for his sheep, atonement by a priest…a ransom of a slave, payment of a debt, vicarious satisfaction of a legal penalty, and victory over the powers of evil." (Confession of 1967, BC - 9.09.) All of these images together, clearly articulated in the confessions of the church, while not exhausting the meaning of the cross, capture its essential significance which is applied by the Holy Spirit to all those who believe.
We affirm that the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the foundation of our hope. In Jesus Christ crucified we are delivered, body and soul, from darkness to light, from death into life, from bondage to obedience, in this life and the life to come.
We reject any and all statements and actions that intentionally or unintentionally degrade, diminish, or deny what the Scriptures testify to and the confessions articulate concerning the nature and function of the cross. We reject any and all statements and actions that reduce and limit the cross to an expression of devotion, a tragic and unanticipated event, a spiritually irrelevant piece of history, or view it as an act of abuse by a malevolent Father.
5. "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24). "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24).
When the completed work of Jesus Christ crucified is applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit, we begin the process of restoration in all aspects of our brokenness, including our sexuality. This is part of salvation. Our cooperation with that restoration requires on our part an act of the will empowered by the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. This is taking up the cross and following Jesus.
We affirm that in the cross of Jesus there is resurrection power that breaks the hold of canceled sin; heals the trauma of the past; sets us free from sinful behaviors, desires and addictions; and enables us to live faithfully in obedience to Scripture as interpreted by the confessions of the church.
We affirm that Jesus Christ crucified both requires and provides for a re-aligning of the human will in life-giving conformity to the will of God.
We affirm that confession and repentance are necessary for healing, transformation and the affirmation of the true self. We affirm that no matter what the condition or set of circumstances, the Holy Spirit gives many graces sufficient for the day.
We reject the claim that people cannot experience any change at the core of their being. We reject and denounce attempts to deny and even to silence those who testify of their own transformation and restoration in their sexuality.
6. "So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:14).
The church of Jesus Christ is a community marked by God's grace and mercy extended to us in Jesus Christ crucified. The church opens its arms to all, declaring and offering the forgiving love the church itself has experienced. At the same time, with mutual forbearance and self-giving service, the church steadily calls its members into holiness and wholeness in obedience to Christ as defined in the Scriptures and articulated in the confessions. The fellowship of the church is the primary vehicle by which the love and power of the Crucified One heals and restores. This is the love and justice of Jesus that does not condemn, yet calls each one out of brokenness, sin and confusion. This is true compassion.
We affirm that the church must be a safe place for each person to work out his or her own salvation in all areas of life, including one's sexuality. We affirm that when the church is faithful to the gospel, the church offers good news and hope for those struggling in their sexuality. We affirm that those who are faithfully wrestling with core issues of sexuality are a gift to the church, representing a prophetic witness within the community.
We reject quick condemnation by some Christians aimed at the specific sins of others while excluding their own. At the same time, we reject the assertion that an individual's internal struggles and lifestyle choices are private matters and no business of the fellowship of the church. We reject the undiscerning sanction of behaviors and lifestyles by the church that the Scriptures, clearly articulated in the confessions, have defined as sin. We reject false notions of love, justice, and compassion that deny the reality of our brokenness, the costly and effective sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
We now call the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to engage in prayerful reflection upon and the faithful preaching of the cross. We call the church to develop and provide clear teaching and effective ministries that address the reality of our shared brokenness in our sexuality. We call on the church to recover its own, clear, biblical voice that declares the love, justice and resurrection power of Jesus Christ crucified to the church and to the world.
*This statement is also known as The Glendale Statement, drafted by a croup of pastors in 1996. Their names can be found HERE