Tuesday, March 07, 2006

“Peace, Unity and Purity” or “Pie-in-the-Sky”

The PCUSA has been engaged in a constant battle over ordination standards since the mid-seventies. One arm of the church has been trying to change our polity to allow the ordination of practicing, unrepentant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons as Elders, Deacons and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament (pastors). Another arm of the church has been trying to keep an orthodox, Biblical, view toward ordination that would prohibit the ordination of any person who will not abide by the view of fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. A third arm of the church just wishes that the problem would go away (some may disagree with my view of this third arm of the church.).

The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity (TTF) was formed at the 213th General Assembly (2001) “to lead the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in spiritual discernment of our Christian identity for the 21st century…” (Minutes, 2001, Part I, p. 29). The TTF was to address the issues of Christology, Biblical authority and interpretation, ordination standards and power. The TTF has concluded its work and has published a report that will go to the 217th General Assembly (2006).

Did the 213th General Assembly really believe that the TTF would usher in a time of peace, unity and purity? “Peace” was never defined. Is it the absence of disagreement? Is it something that a General Assembly document can “force” upon the church? What about Jesus’ statement, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.” (Luke 12:51-21) The same types of questions can be asked about “unity.” The mantra for the PCUSA has been unity in diversity. What a crock! There are pastors and leaders in our denomination who do not believe that Jesus is the only way to God. They deny the bodily resurrection and most, if not all, of Jesus’ miracles. How can there be unity with this kind of diversity. Finally, what is the definition of “purity?” What standards will be used to define purity? Several years ago a paper was written by a General Assembly committee that wanted to introduce a new standard called “justice love.” The paper went on to say that any consensual sexual contact between adults who value and uphold the other person would be all right. Fortunately, the paper was rejected. The authors of the paper have a very different view of purity than is found in scripture. Who decides the definition of “purity?” So, did the General Assembly really believe that the TTF would bring in a time of peace, unity and purity?

The cynical side of my personality doesn’t believe it for a minute. The commissioners probably hoped for the best. If the denomination’s leadership truly believed it then they were/are the most inept leaders of all time. The two main opposing groups in this battle hold their convictions as a part of the core of their being. Neither side was/is going to back down. I feel that it was a pie-in-the-sky idea at best. It would allow General Assemblies to bypass the controversial issues for five years. The assemblies could (and did) say that we should let the TTF do its work before dealing with the divisive issues.

Well, the pie has fallen out of the sky. The 217th General Assembly (2006) will have the task of dealing with that pie (task force report). Presbyterians around the world are waiting to see what the assembly will do.

Have a slice of pie as you watch and wait! (I’ll take a slice of pecan pie… hold the ice cream!)

3 Comments:

At 8:41 AM , Blogger Classical Presbyterian said...

Hey Pastor Lance!

I saw that you found my blog and I though I'd return the favor!

It looks like we are of a similar mind on the stuff that is wrecking our once-great denomination.

What do you think about the two new groups--- The New Wineskins and the New PCUS?

Blog on it!

God bless!

 
At 8:53 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

New Wineskins is very interesting. I will be introducing in to our session either this month or next.

Part of the reason for this blog is to help educate our session and congregation about what the future may hold.

 
At 12:45 PM , Blogger Classical Presbyterian said...

I have some real concerns with the NWI on Confessions and the Essentials, though I admire their determination and public stand.

They have yet to give a solid Confessional stance. Which confession will they use? Simply using what we have now is not enough to prevent a future liberal slide.

O'Sullivan's Law here applies: "Any Institution that is not explicitly conservative, will become liberal over time."

Having one solid confession from the historic Reformed churches would prevent that liberal slide in the future----i.e. Westminster or the Canons of Dordt, etc..

 

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