14 February 2008


Several recent developments emanating from Presbyterian Church (USA) headquarters in Louisville call into question whether or not that denomination can still call itself either presbyterian or Reformed. The attempts by the bureaucracy to convert a presbyterian connectional form of government into one controlled in the episcopal form continue unabated.
First, the Louisville Papers counsel presbyters to "[f]irmly present the PCUSA (sic) as a hierarchical church," while conceding that "[c]ertainly, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A. does not refer to itself as a hierarchical church." Church Property Disputes: A Resource for those Representing Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Presbyteries and True Churches in the Civil Courts, at § III (Office of Legal Services, PC(USA) 2006).

Next, the Synod of the Pacific unilaterally, and without constitutional support, assumed the right to replace the Presbytery of Sacramento as a party in interest in a civil suit because it disagreed with the presbytery’s decision on a dismissal request, a decision left by the Book of Order to the sole discretion of the presbytery. See, G-11.0103i. In so doing, the synod assumed that the presbytery had no discretion, that the presbytery was subject to the direction of the synod, and that the presbytery’s only option in the face of a constitutionally-valid request for dismissal was to defend the so-called property trust contained in Chapter VIII of the Book of Order.

Finally, when the current Stated Clerk announced his retirement, Louisville prepared a procedure by which a select few bureaucrats were to review all candidates for the post and to anoint one as the bureaucracy’s choice. Other candidates and their proponents were to be subject to a gag order, under pain of disqualification.

When the sitting Pope dies, the College of Cardinals is assembled to select his replacement. The Curia does not vet the candidates and the voters (i.e., the Cardinals) are free to take as long as they wish and to use whatever means they desire to identify the candidate revealed to them by God. Louisville, unwilling to leave such a momentous decision in God’s hands, has surpassed even the Roman model to which it so clearly aspires. By this action, Louisville became more Roman than Rome.

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