In May of this year, 2011, I wrote a posting entitled, “Sacramento Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific and trust-Update.” It was about an attempt by the Evangelicals in Sacramento Presbytery, via a motion, to give Roseville Presbyterian Church and Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church back the money the Synod of the Pacific had extracted from them for their property. In that posting I included a letter sent to the Presbytery by the Synod in an attempt to influence the Presbytery’s vote.
They did influence it. The letter, as I pointed out, had several errors in it, and yes some of it was a lie. During the debate about whether it could be read or not, (There was to be no debate after it was read),one of my friends stated that it was in error and a lie.
I learned Sunday morning that a complaint had been filed against him with the statement that he was not furthering the peace, unity and purity of the Church. The investigative committee has acquitted him, but the fact that an honest statement cannot be made on the floor of the Presbytery without such a complaint being filed is troubling. If one reads the posting I originally wrote it is certain that the letter was not truthful. And to allow untruth to be used against honest debate about a matter as important as Christian reconciliation between brothers and sisters is appalling.
This is all deeply troubling because when one mixes antinomian teaching (some sins are okay) with bureaucratic mismanagement (for instance the Synod’s letter) the mix is lethal. What I mean by that is that now, since it is supposedly okay to ordain those involved in unrepentant same gender sex, unrepentant sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage and unrepentant adultery, a different slant on morality may engulf much of our leadership.
Given that many in leadership are involved in the push to lower ordination standards their moral sensibilities on sexuality will spill over into other areas of ethics. If morality is based on what is now called new light, or the new thing the Spirit is doing, rather than what the Church universal has upheld for almost two thousand years, it will certainly affect the whole of ethics. The idea of ‘new light’ means not just new interpretation, but rather an understanding that the Holy Spirit is re-interpreting; so even spirituality gets into the mix of new ethical thinking.
But it is a spirit that is totally immanent; wedded to human experience, in fact, guided by human experience. Looking at a new liturgy offered by More Light Presbyterians celebrating the elimination of the fidelity and chastity clause in the Presbyterian Book of Order one sees the problem. One line in “Liturgy for 10-A Celebrations on July 10, 2011” is “We support each person’s journey of integrating spirituality and sexuality which leads to wholeness.” The mix is deadly.
So several shifts are occurring: Not only can we look back to the pagan proclivity in parts of our denomination to do away with unwanted children but now the general push toward accepting sexual deviancy is affecting all else causing further sins of greed, manipulation and lies.
Deviant sexuality and the sacrifice of children for the good of society are pagan values and just as they brought God’s judgment on ancient Israel, so they will bring God’s judgment on a denomination. (Rev 2:20-23).
The answer for the orthodox, whether leaving or staying, is to guard our own hearts while submitting to the Lord of the Church. We may move from the denomination but we cannot remove ourselves from the culture which is both shaping and killing the denomination. Jesus told the orthodox of Thyatira to “hold fast” until he comes. And that admonition is for all the faithful through all time. As Leon Morris notes holding fast means, “take a firm grip on” … “the sum total of Christian doctrine, and hope and privilege.” That privilege is the promise of the gift of the bright morning star. Jesus is that star.
1. The same line is in a confession of sin at The institute for Welcoming Resources. In that particular resource is the line, “We insist that our way and view are the only ones. At our best, we remember: There are many paths to the sacred. The spiritual paths of GLBT persons are among them.”