Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) an apostate denomination


Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. ("Should We Support Gay Marriage? No") Wolfhart Pannenberg

picture by Stephen Larson
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is now, with clarity, stepping beyond biblical Christianity by changing the Book of Order to allow for same gender marriage. In many other ways the denomination has turned her back on her own documents without changing them. She has allowed apostate ministers to teach her people heretical and damming doctrines. She has allowed her most precious gifts, her unborn children, to be killed. But none of this has entered into her constitution, the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order.

Now the Book of Order, in contradiction to the Book of Confessions and more importantly the Holy Scriptures, will contain a confirmation that is heretical. That is, that marriage can be defined as an institution that binds two people of the same sex. This pushes the PC (U.S.A.) into the historical groupings of those organizations that must be considered apostate.

Rather than standing with that Church which through the ages has been orthodox, faithful to the apostolic witness of Scripture, the PC (U.S.A.) stands with the Unitarian Universalist Church, the metaphysical churches of the 19th century, (which are still with us), the German Christians who placed a new revelation beside the biblical revelation, and all of those new and past, so called Christian religions, whose founders placed new revelation beside the biblical witness.

And this will not be the end of new revelation, new twisting of Scripture. When the door is open to darkness in the name of religion a deeper darkness occurs. If it was easy to put same gender marriage in the Book of Order in 2015 by 2016 it will be easier to push for the idea of pluralism to be placed in the Book of Order. That is, the idea that other religions are as efficacious toward salvation as Jesus’ life death and resurrection. The denomination already has officials who believe this.

The candle of the denomination is going out—it only burns in those who still hold tight to the biblical witness.

 

20 comments:

Mike Armistead said...

If Jesus removed the lampstand of the Church Of Ephesus and neighboring congregations who compromised the faith in Revelation 2 & 3, He will certainly not hesitate to remove the lampstand of churches and denominations that do so today. In fact, if you look at the declining numbers, the purging seems to be well underway.

Andy Vloedman said...

Viola you write it will be "easier to push for the idea of pluralism" We are there. John Shuck in his column for Friendly Atheist titled "I'm a Presbyterian Minister who Doesn't Believe in God" describes his church as BYOG He invites people to "bring their own God or none at all"

Viola Larson said...

Andy, I meant it will be easier to put pluralism in the Book of Order. We have already what sounds like universalism, but not pluralism.

Andy Vloedman said...

Viola I appreciate the distinction. Thank you. Shuck has in recent posts challenged his critics to charge him with heresy if they are so upset with his opinions. I think he does raise an interesting question,Can you hold a belief or opinion today that the PCUSA would consider heresy?

Anonymous said...

You ARE going to leave now, right?

Gene
Atlanta

Andy Vloedman said...

Gene That's a little too cryptic for me to respond. If you'd like to elaborate I'm glad to try to answer within the bounds I believe Viola tries to maintain that comments are directed to the post.

Alan said...

I was saddened to hear of the vote but not surprised. I think of and pray for my sisters and brothers who I know are faithfully trying to interpret God's word in the midst of an apostate denomination (I do not use that term lightly).

God bless you in any future decision you make.
A

Anonymous said...

I sm sorry I will be leaving the denomination that has been my home for 35+ years.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Viola,

We knew this day would come. I knew it once the RESURRECTION was made optional. That was made abundantly clear when I came to my home presbytery (Holston) and begged them to discipline John Shuck...and they basically told me that I was the troublemaker. The moment that orthodoxy becomes optional, you can rest assured that it will soon become illegal. That's the lesson of the Kenyon case.

I hope you find what you're looking for. There isn't a perfect church. But for what it's worth, I'm thrilled to be an Anglican because there aren't any essentials that are even up for question. And while some of the peripherals are SERIOUSLY important, at the end of the day we can carry on in mutual forbearing love because the essentials are never in question.

Jodie said...

Viola,

We are certainly living in an age of re-examining Scriptural interpretation. One could argue we always have. Jesus and the Apostles certainly re-interpreted the Scriptures in ways the Jews found so unorthodox as to deserve the death penalty. The Roman Catholic Church thought the same of the Protestant Reformation. Even within the Protestant Reformation there were those who felt that the reformation of some was correct while the reformation of others was so wrong as to deserve the death penalty.

Thankfully we don’t see that behavior among most Christians anymore, but we still see it among Muslims and it freaks us out to think that in the 21st Century someone can still be put to death for apostasy to their Faith.

Among we Christians, there appear to be shades of gray. For most of our Two Thousand years of existence it was considered right and proper interpretation of Scripture that women were not allowed to teach, that blacks were cursed by God and were supposed to be our slaves, that Kings ruled by divine right, that homosexuals were sinful perverts that should be put to death, or imprisoned, and that all Jews were Christ killers and deserved to be persecuted because “the blood of Christ was upon them”. A lot has changed in the last 500 years, the last 100 years, the last 50 years, and the last 10 years. Where will it all end?

Consider the following facts of Scripture:

1) In the resurrection there will be no such thing as marriage (per Jesus). It’s a purely human thing, not even part of the Kingdom of God.

2) Yet the institution of marriage describes the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Paul, John) And the Church is made of men, women, and children. Sexual relations and gender do not seem to be a factor in that marriage, and yet “marriage” is the literal or metaphorical best definition of that relationship. Some argue that it is the role model for Christian marriage. If it is, then clearly sexual relations and gender have nothing to do with marriage. (!)

3) In Christ there is no ‘male’ or ‘female’. Based on the counsel of Paul, Scripture implies rather that both partners are at times the ‘male’ and the ‘female’, being mutually submissive to each other as the Church is submissive to Christ.

On top of all of that, the Reformed position of the Presbyterian Church has been all along that marriage is not a Sacrament, but that it is a civil union, and that it is by the power delegated by the “State” that the Church pronounces a couple “husband” and “wife”. Some reformers didn’t even think that was proper, and that the Church should stay out of the business of officiating over weddings altogether.

With all that in mind, I find declaring the PCUSA apostate just because it has let go of its position against same sex union – kicking and screaming I might add, and only after the State let go of it first – to be somewhat of an overstatement. Maybe our conceptions of marriage really do belong in the same garbage heap of history as slavery, divine right of Kings, anti-Semitism, and misogyny. We’ve been so wrong about so many things in the past, we don’t really have a leg to stand on when we say we were wrong about those, but right about this.

In my humble opinion, I would suggest we adopt the position that God blesses any loving relationship we ask him to bless. That would be a profoundly Scriptural position. Bless and not curse, because our first calling is to bless and to be a blessing to a world that God so loved that he eventually even gave it his only Son. If He was willing to give the World his only Son, would he not be willing to accept the marriage of two people of the same gender who love each other? And if not, would he not change his mind if we asked him to? Isn’t that what the Scriptures say about prayer? I think if we focus on the core teachings and values in Scripture, there is no other way to be.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Andy Vloedman said...

Jodie
I don't mean to take your words out of context so if I have tell me. I would suggest there is not much distance between "God blesses any loving relationship we ask him to bless" to God blesses whatever we decide deserves blessing to Shuck's BYOG bring your own god. I'm reminded of Paul's words in Romans 12 to present our bodies as a sacrifice not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewal of our mind. I think in many ways we are asking God to conform if not to the world then to our circumstances. I don't think sexuality is the real battle ground for most folks. I think the author of the Hole in our Gospel got it right. It's our money. We will never get that right if we don't follow Paul's words to present ourselves as a living sacrifice saying Thy will not mine be done.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for lack of clarity Mr. Vloedman.

The question was meant for Viola.

Gene

Atlanta

Viola Larson said...

Chris, the Anglican church is great, but I'm reformed in my bones: ) I belong to a very good PCUSA church at the moment that is in discernment now. Thanks for commenting--it is good to see your name pop up.

Viola Larson said...

Jodie, you really need to get your own blog where you can write long posts and other like-minded people can read them.

I find too much of your church history and exegesis contrived and twisted. It would take far too long to unravel it all.

I have to say that the Scriptures are truth. When there is an argument over essentials there is true and false understanding. It isn't reinterpreting that counts, it is going back to the original truth.

Slavery is not encouraged in the Bible, it is moderated and even discouraged by Paul. Women in ministry is clearly shown both in the Old and New Testament. Read Romans 16. But nowhere is homosexuality acceptable.

I am not going to argue these points with you as they have been argued here too many times already.

David Stearns said...

Perhaps it is to be expected that a denomination that is not able to define any essential tenets or essentials of belief can no longer define what is heresy. However, we should at least be able to remove someone from office if they are no longer able to affirm their ordination vows. Every teaching elder, ruling elder, and deacon makes the following affirmations:

a. Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? (I do)

b. Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you? (I do).

In the case of John Shuck, based on his posts and sermons he would have to say "I don't".

Doug Hagler said...

Why do those who 'hold tight to the biblical witness' so rarely concern themselves with what the bible actually says about things like, for example, banking? There are more than twice as many "clobber passages" against charging interest than anyone claims are aimed at same-sex relationships, including calling for the death penalty for any who practice usury. But all the Bible-believers aren't even hand-wringing over that issue. The reason, I can only assume, is because bankers are powerful, and beneficial to conservative Christians, whereas LGBTQ folks are neither. It would actually be costly to oppose our financial system, whereas denigrating a small minority costs nothing.

Clinging tightly to the biblical witness would have you Occupying Wall Street twice as often as lamenting Presbytery votes, and that's just one example among dozens which are of more concern to the authors of the Bible than same-sex relationships. I'm still waiting to see where the Bible-believers are amidst all those who claim the title.

Link above, but I forgot last time:

Doug Hagler
First Presbyterian Church
Phoenixville, PA

Viola Larson said...

Doug, I am not sure what you meant by link above? Did you intend to provide a link?

Jodie said...

Viola,

I don't know what the point would be of having a blog of long posts for like minded people to read. Who might they be, anyway?

But I thought your post deserved a more considered response than a mere sound bite. If you read it, I think you will agree it was almost as short as it had to be.

I had hoped it would come across as more than just arguing about the shadow's on Plato's wall.

I still think the Church needs and deserves a way out of this name-calling, finger-pointing rut it finds itself stuck in.

So I offered one.

Maybe others will appreciate it more fully.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Daniel said...

I stumbled across your blog, and found it quite interesting. On this particular issue, I want to point out that the actions of the Presbyterians are hardly surprising. The Presbyterian Church has been spiritually dead for a good 100 years.