Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Covenant Network: disqualifying orthodox candidates

Lady Bug Lady Bug-fly away home-your house (denomination) is on fire-and your children will burn-Jesus Christ Lord of the Church have mercy on us. 

The Covenant Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), just a few weeks ago wrote of their desire for unity, but their actions and words belie their true hopes and plans. They are ready to muffle the orthodox and force them out of the denomination. There will be none left if their plans are blessed by higher leadership-or if their arguments are used in presbyteries. In a paper entitled, “Guidelines for Examination of Church Officers,” they have pointed back to the Kenyon case and subsequent ones that forbade ordaining a candidate for Teaching Elder from being ordained. Towards the end of a very flawed document they write:

“ … a person who wishes to engage in ordered ministry must be prepared to carry out the functions of office. General Assembly has affirmed that an examining body “cannot excuse a candidate’s inability to perform the constitutional functions unique to his or her office (such as administration of the sacraments).”28 Consistent with this, a series of judicial cases has made clear that a presbytery may not ordain or install someone who declares that he will not participate in the ordination of women.29 Indeed, it is fundamental to our polity that the responsibility for assessing the fitness of officers-elect is vested in councils (sessions and presbyteries), not in individuals. Accordingly, the pastor who officiates at an ordination thereby performs a ministerial act that is required by the Constitution (not a discretionary one), and the act of officiating indicates neither approval nor disapproval of the congregation’s choice of leaders and council’s approval of them.30 This point pertains primarily to pastors, who must officiate at child baptisms, ordination and installation of church leaders, and the like. While candidates who cannot agree to perform such functions in conformity with Presbyterian polity may be fine Christians, they may not be ordained or installed in the PC(USA).”

This comes after a shotgun scattering of reasons why it is biblical to ordain LGBT persons, an attempt at proving that it would be against Presbyterian polity to refuse ordination to any homosexual or heterosexual who are sleeping with someone outside of marriage, an insistence that no presbytery or session may set standards and a further insistence that debates within Presbyteries are not to be about the right or wrong of essentials but about the over all qualifications of a candidate. But last and certainly not least is the above attempt to disqualify any candidate who states that they will not ordain unrepentant gay and lesbian candidates.

If one godly candidate comes before a presbytery anywhere and states that they will not ordain an unrepentant sinner and is disqualified for that reason, because the progressives will use these guidelines, the split in the denomination will be wide and deep. The denomination will be guilty of despicably persecuting its own people including the already ordained. May Christ be with all of us as we stand in the midst of wickedness.


Pastor Jeff said...

Amendment 10-A, which removed the requirement that ordained church leaders must practice fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness (replacing it with a call to “submit joyfully to the Lord Jesus Christ in all aspects of life”), was universally promoted as being a “local option.” In other words, we were told that if the PC(USA) deleted the ordination standard of fidelity/chastity, it would allow churches and presbyteries that believe homosexual relationships are ok to ordain unrepentant homosexuals, but that this change would have no impact on churches or pastors that disagree.

Now that Amendment 10-A is part of the Book of Order, the Covenant Network has come out of the closet, so to speak, and revealed the lie behind the concept of a “local option.”

It is instructive that the most vocal and proactive advocates of the change that was made to the constitution of the PC(USA) are now advancing such a radical and exclusionary interpretation of the constitutional standards that they crafted in the guise of peace and inclusiveness.

Viola Larson said...

Pastor Jeff,
All I can say to your comment is Amen!

will spotts said...

I have to say - given the history of the denomination - this is the logical outcome.

Now, we might talk about the dishonesty of the approach - i.e. posing as local option, peace, etc. - which is jarring, to say the least.

But I can't imagine anyone who didn't see this was coming as being anything other than willfully blind. Not only does denomination precedent indicate this direction as an almost certain outcome - a great many people (mostly conservative, but a few more honest on the other side of the dispute) pointed it out.

I have a great sympathy for those who now (and soon) find themselves in a difficult situation in the PC(USA). But I really can't imagine or even come up with rationales to excuse "surprise".

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Viola Larson said...

No Will, no one is saying it’s a surprise –except every time I see those who call themselves Christians, who say they are followers of Jesus , use such duplicity as a means of reaching their goals it takes my breath away because I have trouble understanding it.

Anonymous said...

They can use duplicity to achieve their goals because Truth is not a higher value to Leftists, social justice is.

Viola Larson said...

I don't think that all "leftist" necessarily hold social justice above truth. But the ones who wrote this document either cannot see their flawed thinking (Local option is okay-local option is not okay) or they are duplicitous. I do think there was an attempt here to make it work by suggesting that seeing Jesus as Savior was a Reformed essential. But two things are wrong with that; many progressives do not see Jesus as Savior and that is still an essential which they have already condemned. To add to their mistake they failed to note that Reformed essentials include all of the essentials of Christianity. One cannot affirm one and not affirm others. But I suspect that they were looking for an excuse to say there is essential polity that must be affirmed.

Please leave your name, city and state if you comment again.

will spotts said...

Viola - You're certainly not surprised. You were, after all, one of those who saw this coming rather clearly.

The thing is, I look for a lot of people who either didn't care or voted for the change or threw up their hands ... if this is what Presbyterians want ... to claim surprise. Whether they bought into the dishonest rationale, I can't say. I just can't fathom it.

Will Spotts