30 June 2008

REFLECTIONS ON THE 218TH PC(USA) GA

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.

5 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

For the record, the pastor at my tall-steeple church was one of the commissioners. His sermon Sunday included his report on the GA which was titled "Sailing in Stormy Seas". That gives you an idea of where he was coming from. He encouraged members to attend the called presbytery meeting that afternoon to get detailed information and more of his opinions. Many responded and did attend.

Another pastor has already set up a town-hall meeting at his church on the subject of the GA actions and asked our GP to attend and answer questions, which he agreed to do.

As Casey Jones told the GA, "be not afraid"--perfect love casts out fear and we evidence of that perfect love in our Lord Jesus Christ. I agree that ultimately all that happens is in God's hands.

Mac said...

QG: Exactly what I would expect--if I suggested that all pastors are hiding the ball, I apologize and ask their forgiveness. It is those who do not inform their congregations who are unfaithful shepherds.

Thanks, too, for the write-up on your presbytery meeting which you posted on your blog.

Mac

Reyes-Chow said...

It was certainly an GA - 218th BTW - filled with both some decisions that are creating many feelings: joy, celebration, anger and sadness. If nothing else, this will force us to begin to ask serious questions about the nature of our relationship/s. I also think that, at least, at the beginning, the commissioners - pastors and Elders - from the actual GA should be given time to do their interpretation in order to give their perspectives to the entirety of the General Assembly. Thanks for being in the conversation!

Rev Kim said...

Okay, now I'm even more sad and disheartened - if that's possible - after reading your sharp-as-a-razor summary (and I mean that as a compliment!)

I had last Sunday off so I wasn't in the pulpit or at church. At Session we had a brief discussion of what would be happening on Friday with the votes on ordination standards and definition of marriage. I wrote a lengthy newsletter article summarizing some of what happened.

The thing is, I'm not sure many of the people here care. In a small church in small town Wyoming, I'm not so sure that people come here because of the theology espoused at the denominational level. I think most people think "it's a mainline Christian denomination, how wrong could it be?" On Sunday, 6/22 I talked at length about GA, the election of Bruce as moderator, and mentioned some of the overtures and discussions regarding ordination standards and same-sex marriages. I'm not sure a) people much cared, and b) they think any of this will affect them in their little corner of the world. It's not just GA, either. As much as I talk about Presbytery and what happens there, I'm just not sure they really care. I don't mean to sound cynical about my congregation. I care for them deeply and they are trying to figure out how to be faithful disciples. I guess my challenge is to discern that once I've shared them what happened at GA, how to lead and guide them in the next step.

Sorry for one of the longest comments ever. Thanks again, as ever, for all the good work you're doing on your blog.

Rev. Steven S. Bryant said...

Happy 4th to a great patriot!