30 June 2008


A whole bunch of bloggers from all across the spectrum have commented on the results of the PC(USA) General Assembly which concluded last weekend. As in any sporting event, there are cheers from some and groans from others. I use the sports analogy rather than a religious one because the mud-wrestling contest held in San Jose bore little resemblance to a Biblically faithful exercise. It was hard-core, full contact politics.

For many of us, the most common adjectives were "worst ever," followed by "vindictive," and just plain "mean-spirited."

Among other things, the 218th GA:

- decided that Islam and Christianity worship exactly the same schizophrenic God (He believes that He sent His Son to atone for our sins on even-numbered days and sees Jesus only as a prophet, but a mere mortal, the rest of the time);

- removed all ordination standards, effectively renouncing both the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture;

- abandoned mission in favor of sponsoring coercive terrorism within the PC(USA);

- consolidated power in the bureaucracy in Louisville; and

- watered down the ordination questions (a la the refusal to establish essential tenets) so that they mean anything and thus, nothing.

The two big questions I have are these:

1. Will the most of the grass roots (Pat and Patty in the pews) even hear of the California Calamity? It seems to me that a lot of pastors (for any non-presbyterian readers, pastors are members of the presbytery and not their congregations) work diligently to ensure that their congregations are do not know, or even hear of, the denomination's repeated and ever-increasing departures from orthodoxy. A sort of "mushroom factory" approach to ministry.

2. For those congregations that do learn of the latest debacle, will their elected leaders take any action?

Only time will tell.

Unlike the PC(USA) commissars, I remain convinced that whatever takes place will be part of God's plan. The comrades in Louisville like only the part of the plan that leaves the power in their hands, denying that God may call others to figuratively pick up their belongings (including the land He gave them) and move to another part of His vineyard to carry on the mission He assigns them.

27 June 2008


This has been a busy week. Jumper (my beloved young horsewoman) has been helping at a riding camp and Camper, my eldest son and faithful camping partner, had back surgery yesterday. Bionicle Boy has spent a lot of time with his Bionicle buddy from church. Number two son, "Moleson" (an F-15 pilot, it's his call sign) just reported to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, as an Air Force exchange student in the Army Command and General Staff College. SWMBO is keeping the lid on this tempestuous teapot.

Leaving me some time to reflect on last week's GA..........

Having observed some of the antics of the committees and the GA of the PC(USA), I marvel at the joy we had at the EPC GA. The major difference: In the EPC, it is all about Jesus while in the PC(USA), it is all about polity and power. In the PC(USA), parliamentary procedure is a full contact sport.

The EPC GA could be much shorter because we did not have to argue about the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, whether God's Word is unchanging or merely subject to our approval, ordination standards or lack thereof, or strong-arming congregations into staying in our midst. There was no debate about whether sin is really sin or "just what is marriage, anyway?" 45 new congregations joined the EPC last year. That other bunch lost nearly 60,000 more members.

At one point in the debate on setting a goal that the EPC be a missional church, there was a brief parliamentary foofarah. They settled it amicably in about 5 minutes, leading one former PC(USA) pastor to comment, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, "These people are a bunch of pikers. We could have tied this in knots for hours!!!"

By my count, the business of the GA was concluded in about 9 hours, including approving a number of new denominational missionaries. In that regard, if the PC(USA) ever sent out a proportionate share of missionaries, it would have over 1600 in the field, rather than the current 250 or so. And they go out for real mission--not to hire lawyers to sue brothers and sisters who, faithful to God's call, seek to move from one part of God's pasture to another.

Worship took up another 8 to 9 hours (usually an hour each morning and 2 and 1/2 hours each night), and it was wonderful--Scripturally faithful and edifying.

Compared to that bank and trust corporation that is meeting in California this week, it was a drink of cool water after a long trek in the desert.

25 June 2008


Two commissioners from the Presbytery of Northern New England (PNNE) to the PC(USA) General Assembly have filed a "commissioner's overture" asking the General Assembly to create a two million dollar fund so that PNNE can continue its law suit against Londonderry (New Hampshire) Presbyterian Church. PNNE claims that to date, it has spent nearly $226,000 in legal costs to prosecute their case, and they anticipate spending another $150,000 in 2008.

The cash would come from the Office of the General Assembly (OGA). The purpose of the fund is to cover legal fees "defending our Constitution against the New Wineskins Non-Geographic Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church."

"But wait," you say. "Didn't 'LPC, a New Hampshire voluntary religious corporation' sue Presbytery of Northern New England, a New Hampshire voluntary religious corporation' first?"

And the answer is, "Yes." LPC, Inc. filed a declaratory judgement action in the New Hampshire courts, seeking a judicial determination as to the legal interests of LPC, Inc. and PNNE,Inc., respectively, in LPC's property. This is a straight forward civil legal issue that even the PC(USA)'s legal department recognizes to be a matter of state law. Cf., Romans 13: 1-5.

But contrary to the Book of Order, PNNE wanted a judicial resolution of theological issues. And to do that, they have combined with the PC(USA), their synod, and a group of about 80 former members of LPC who voted against disaffiliation. This group was organized by PNNE into a church plant with a pastor supplied by PNNE.

"But why do you say PNNE sued?" you ask. That's where the commissioner's overture gets interesting.

You see, for nearly a year, PNNE and its apologists have been whining about the dec action. They were offended that before their AC could come in and take over the church, change the locks, dismiss the session, and freeze the bank accounts, the congregation of LPC exercised their "permissive powers" (G-7.0304a) and voted by a 3 to 1 margin to disaffiliate. At the same time, the corporation sought to clear its title to its property.

New Hampshire is a neutral principles jurisdiction, so PNNE, Inc. has a tough row to hoe in overcoming LPC's ownership of the property. They needed to muddy the waters and to impose tremendous costs on LPC. To do that, they needed to file a suit against LPC's individual trustees, in hopes that they would cave. But because PNNE has been so harsh with respect to the suit between LPC, Inc. and PNNE, Inc., they could not bring themselves to sue.

Enter their new church plant. PNNE used them to sue the trustees.

Now comes the commissioner's resolution that admits that PNNE, the synod and PC(USA) have been completely financing the second suit. The 80 haven't had to spend a dime. Once again, the pernicious hand of Louisville and its minions is revealed.

For its rationale, the commissioner's resolution argues that "the PCUSA (sic) holds that the Church is an organic unity of which its synods, presbyteries and local congregations are integral parts. We must be careful that we do not lose the civil lawsuit and set legal precedent endangering our Constitution, simply because we cannot afford to put up the best defense."

Well, nonsense. The only precedent that will be set is in New Hampshire, and LPC was the only PC(USA) church in that presbytery that took the orthodox, biblically faithful position on matters of Scripture and theology. No need to worry about the PC(USA) constitution. This is Louisville's gambit all the way.

The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) opposed the request. It argued "that an additional 39 presbyteries face, or have faced, similar challenges. . . Our present annual budget for this assistance is only $50,000 intended to cover all ongoing cases. . .." It then admitted that that the stated clerk (probably the SC's office, unless Clif Kirkpatrick ponied up the cash himself)has already provided $20,000 to the Presbytery of Northern New England for the Londonderry suit.

Nonetheless, the General Assembly Procedures Committee overwhelmingly approved the overture and sent it to the GA. The reception it will get there will be interesting. How will commissioners return to their churches and presbyteries to report that "we could find only enough money to support 250 missionaries, but we took $2,000,000 to pay presbyteries to carry out the Louisville Papers Plan."

One wonders: If PNNE had taken that $226,000 (and any settlement offered by LPC, Inc.) and given it to the 80 to plant a new church in Londonderry, where would they be today?

Finally, we now have the red herring du jour from PNNE. They claim to be suing the New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery of the EPC "to protect our constitution." Wrong!!

They and their dummy are suing real people at LPC. They just don't want anybody to know that.


I spent almost all of last week in Bethesda, Maryland, attending the 28th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I am still coming down from the high! What a breath of fresh air when compared to the semi-annual antics (being repeated this week)of the PC(USA).

We started with the second stated meeting of the New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery/Support Network ("NWEPC") on Tuesday. The high point of the meeting was centered on pastoral care and leadership. We started with the reception of Reverend Ken Glasier as the Pastor of Londonderry Presbyterian Church (New Hampshire). Ken was called from an EPC church in suburban Denver,becoming the first EPC pastor to transfer from an EPC presbytery to the NWEPC. The Presbytery of New England,(PC(USA), had held Londonderry' request to call a pastor hostage for two and a half years. Because their CIF was complete, the PNC and the Ministry Committee of NWEPC were able to interview three candidates by last February and LPC called Ken in late April.

We then examined four candidates for ordination, approving all pending call. (They all have calls.) In another first, one of the candidates was a woman, despite the scare tactics engaged in by the PC(USA) last year (predicting that the creation of NWEPC was an attempt to end ordination of women).

The candidates were rigorously examined on Scripture, theology, the Essential Tenets of the Reformed faith, NWEPC polity, and the Sacraments. An EPC pastor present commented that it was more intense and detailed than the last exam he had seen in his EPC presbytery. (No more PC(USA) exams in which the hardwest questions are "What is your name?" and "If called, what color will you paint your study?" The required answer to the latter being "Green.")

We also have two mission churches that are well on the way towards becoming functioning congregations in the NWEPC.

God is good, all the time!

More to follow.

16 June 2008


I must confess a hidden defect in my character. "My name is Mac and I'm a poet." (Chorus: "Hi, Mac.") Yes, friends, I have been known to commit, and to occasionally inflict upon others the result of, poesy.

I grew up in northwestern Missouri and southern Illinois, near and along the big rivers--the Missouri and the Mississippi. Their power and majesty have held me in awe for as long as I can recall. Today, the news is full of reports concerning "the worst floods since 1993." Well, I was out there in 1993, and it was awful, so my heart goes out to our Countrymen in the heartland.

I dusted off an old journal and found the following:


I am The River, ageless, mighty.
I was here long before you were born.
I will be here when you are but a dusty memory.

Born was I of long-forgotten glaciers.
My youthful valley still spreads far and wide,
Ignored by Man. But I have not forgotten.

Secure am I in my long patterns,
Indulging Man whose own short span
Lulls him, making him forget my power.

I scoff at mortal man, whose need to control
All of Nature breeds fatal confidence,
Assuming, without basis, that I have surrendered.

And so I lapse into gentle patterns
Which I of ageless eye can see,
But short-lived Man ignores -- or misses.

Comes Winter's blast.
I am sucked dry and frozen solid,
My essence captive, waiting Spring's warm call.

Season of Birth, of light and life,
That gentle Warden, Spring, now comes,
With grace-filled warmth to free me.

The skies darken with nourishment,
Opening wide their taps in gushing torrents,
Replenishing my strength,restoring my surging soul.

Summer finds me placid, languid, lazy,
Host of vernal sport, still constant flowing,
Having spent myself in the lusty rush of Spring.

Then comes Fall, Autumn's end of cycle.
My heavy waters, low but constant,
Bear the leaves that mark the season of decline.

From age to age, I sing my cyclic lullaby,
Ever flowing with steady beat;
Soothing, gaining Man's misplaced confidence.

But ne'er do I forget my youthful strength,
Addictive, cloying, which this great valley carved.
Oft cast I mem'ry's wistful eye to those heady days.

Nor do I leave Man unfairly blinded.
My springly rushes give fair warning
That, always, I am The River.

I am not alone in the great drama.
Homage do I pay and sacrifice offer
To the One who is Master and Creator of all.

When drought He sends, taking and not returning,
My feeder fingers wither and dry
And I surrender dominion over what is mine.

Man, confident but sort-sighted,
In his constant quest to control,
Misreads obeisance as weakness.

Builds he then walls and dikes and levees,
Damming and channeling my waters where he will,
Claiming what is mine for his own.

Ignorant Man, unread, uncomprehending.
Read the rocks and hills that are my valley
To know the breadth and depth of my raw power.

This is mine, carved and etched
By icy floods of long-gone ages.
While I may lend, I do not give!

Stripped I may be in times of drought,
But bounteous Nature is even-handed,
Returning abundance for homage given.

In the cycles, all is even.
My life's blood comes in welcome flows;
With youthful zest, I reclaim all that is mine.

Reaching for those limits which I have set,
With casual nod, I push my way
to take anew and gain my rightful place.

Springtime melt and summer rain,
Gifts to me from the great broad sky
Are mine--my cup does o'erflow.

Behold, O Man, The River!
Read and comprehend your own small power
In the Great Creator's grand scheme.

In my rapids and flows, I speak.
With eyes and ears and being, listen,
My message for to know:

I am The River, ageless, mighty!
I was here long before you were born.
I will be here when you are but a dusty memory.

11 June 2008


As many have recently reported in the blogosphere, the PC(USA) continues its slide into an episcopal dictatorship. The latest institutional departure from historic presbyterianism arises out of the vote in Woodland Presbyterian Church in New Orleans to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA). The vote by secret written ballot was 150-6 in favor of disaffiliation, with six abstentions.

What made Woodland's vote unique was the attempt by the Presbytery of South Louisiana to obtain from the civil courts a temporary restraining order prevent Woodland from holding a congregational meeting to vote on disaffiliation.

In this case, the civil court got it absolutely right: recognizing that the congregation has a constitutionally protected freedom of assembly--free from the interference of the civil government-- the request fro the TRO was denied.

Woodland voted three days later to disaffiliate, thus severing its voluntary association with the PC(USA). Sadly, the presbyteryis still seeking a preliminary injunction to stop Woodland from conducting the meeting that has already occurred. (That last sentence was as hard to write as it is to read, but that is what PSL is doing.) In effect, PSL asks the court to enforce PSL's incorrect interpretation of the Book of Order and to bar Woodland from ever meeting to vote on disaffiliation.

The bureaucratic attempt to remedy a defect in the PC(USA) constitution by means of civil suit and administrative fiat results from a nearly thirty year old defect in the Books of Order of the UPCUSA and the PC(USA). Since at least 1984, the PC(USA) has been aware that the absence of an express provision in its constitution forbidding disaffiliation, churches are free to do so. Coupled with the ambiguous grant to congregations of certain undefined "permissive powers," another ambiguity, the absence of such a ban fully supports the right of unilateral disaffiliation.

As more and more congregations learn just how far the bureaucracy in Louisville has strayed from the grassroots in matters of theology, Christology, and Scripture, the bureaucrats have panicked and attempted a putsch to stamp down on the restiver membership. The tools employed have been the unilateral amendment of the Book of Order by presbyteries in the form of "procedures" that change constitutional provisions on quora and required voting majorities. Louisville started the the assault on the Book of Order with the promulgation of the infamous "Louisville Papers."

The court's ruling in Woodland would appear to render PSL's request moot, but PSL has announced that it intends to pursue a preliminary or permanent injunction against Woodland. This can only be read as a warning signal to other congregations, meant to delay any more disaffiliation votes until the upcoming PC(USA) General Assembly. At that GA, the PC(USA) will attempt to ram through a new "Form of Government" which may clear up some of the ambiguities in the present Book of Order, and to transfer most power to the halls of Louisville.

Considering the recent actions by the Synods of the Sun and of the Pacific to usurp the powers of presbyteries, it becomes clear that Louisville hopes to shove through amendments to the Book of Order that will convert the PC(USA) from a presbyterian body to an episcopacy. As the clock runs down, it will be interesting to see just how many congregations make a break for freedom.

05 June 2008


As I watch the PC(USA) increase the speed of its precipitous slide away from Biblical faith and toward the humanist, "it's all about me," "I'll do it my way" orientation of our society, I recognize that such departures are not new.

When I was teaching military law to newly commissioned Lieutenants of Marines, one of the hardest concepts for them to accept was authority. The idea that they could give a Marine an order and he had to obey it was an alien concept in the society from which they came. The second half of the 20th Century was defined, in pertinant part, by a growing sense that "no one can tell me what to do!" Those of us who grew up in the 50s will recall that any Mom or Dad on the block could correct you and your best hope was that would end it. If word got back to your own parents, you got it again. We had no vandalism, no killings, no shootings, because we were taught that there was a "chain of command."

A small group of which I am a member is studying the broad topic of "What is Worship?" We have been reading 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chron 15:1-16:6. In Samuel, David undertakes to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. He does it his way. Rather than having it carried as God had required, he put it in a cart. En route, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled and the cart driver reached out to steady the Ark. He was killed.

David became angry, but also recognized that he had failed to handle the Ark in accordance with God's commands. He then repents and begins to transport the Ark properly. The 1 Chronicles passage reports in detail this part of the journey and all of the minute details of the ceremony.

The lesson about authority is clear. We are called to submit to God's authority because He is God. No other reason. Any thought that we may have that we know a better way is doomed to failure. We obey because in so doing, we are worshipping the power and majesty and grace and magnanimty of God. It is all about Him.

When a denomination decides that its "worship" ought to be of modern trends, or what it thinks is "right," when it ignores God's Word as out-dated or irrelevant to this day and age, favoring its own discernment, it ought not be surprised that it is no longer prospering.

03 June 2008


The PC(USA) strikes again.

According to The Layman, Whitewater Valley Presbytery in Indiana is getting ready to launch a preemptive strike against First United Presbyterian Church (College Corner Presbyterian Church) in College Corner, Ohio, and Wallace Street Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Both are considering ending their affiliation with the PC(USA). In so doing, the presbytery effectively amends the Book of Order by removing G-11.0103i and G-7.0304a(5).

At its stated meeting June 4, the Presbytery commissioners are scheduled to vote on a recommendation from the presbytery's committee on ministry to form administrative commissions for both churches. The ACs' powers would "take effect when it should become evident to the commission that minister(s) or congregation members are moving toward expressing a desire for separation and the reconciliation is not likely." (Emphasis added.)

They would have:

1. "Authority to dissolve the session and assume the full powers and jurisdiction of the session" as soon as the session "calls for a congregational meeting for the purpose of considering actions leading to separation from the PCUSA."

2. "Authority to dissolve the pastoral relationship upon evidence that the pastor has advocated separation from the denomination or upon renunciation of jurisdiction. . .."

In other words, a COM has now recommended that a presbytery ignore the constitutional right of congregations to ask to be dismissed, as well as the permissive power of the congregation to disaffiliate.

The report of the COM also contains a threat to any other churches that might consider exercising its rights to request dismissal or to disaffiliate. "The COM sincerely hopes that no other churches will seek separation."

The hypocrisy of the bureaucracy of the PC(USA) is stunning. When presbyteries adopted resolutions expressing their intent to enforce constitutional qualifications for ordination, the liberals rushed to the church courts to prevent enforcement of clear constitutional mandates. Now, when churches seek to exercise their constitutional right to leave the PC(USA), the same bureaucrats ignore tha constitution and plan to coerce those congregations.

It is all about centralized power in the curia in Louisville!

02 June 2008


In my opinion, an American presidential campaign is the greatest spectator sport on earth. There are the money players, the utility players, scouts, front office staff, minor leagues, and rabid fans.

All this came to mind Saturday as I watched the DNC Rules and By-laws Committee in action. They spent the whole day deciding what they would do to two states who had intentionally broken their own rules. It made the "infield fly rule" seem simple by comparison.

I can sympathize with Florida to a certain extent. The Republican Party controls the legislature and the governorship. Of course, the Florida Democratic State Committee could have run their own primary in accordance with party rules, but it would have had to spend its own money. So, I have only a modicum of sympathy for them.

Michigan was another story. Senator Carl Levin ranted, in tones reminiscent of the State's rights arguments of the 1850's, another time that the Democratic Party failed the Nation, "We had to violate the rules because Michiganders are more important than those New Hampshiremen." Abe Lincoln must be rolling in his grave.

It is not the first time in recent history that Michigan has revived the issue of State's rights. Back in the 1980's, the Governor of Michigan claimed the right to prevent the Federal government from sending a Michigan National Guard engineer unit to Central America. Representative Sonny Montgomery of Mississippi, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee espoused the right of the federal government to control the Guard. Jeff Davis also did a few spins.

So, Senator Levin's claim that Michigan has a better right to be first than does New Hampshire rings hollow.