Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Options for Moving Forward – Presbyterians for Renewal.

The PCUSA is in a mess! How are we to move forward? Various groups within the PCUSA have spoken on this topic. Many faithful Presbyterians do not have the time or desire to find out what the various groups are saying. It is my intention to give a “best effort” to accurately present the “way forward” presented by the various groups with in the PCUSA. We will begin this process by looking at Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR).

PFR is a renewal group that has its roots in the Covenant Fellowship of Presbyterians—an evangelical renewal group in the former Southern church. PFR’s strategy prior to 2008 has been characterized as “stay, fight, win.” PFR has been great at organizing folks at the Presbytery level to defeat (or pass) amendments to the constitution. PFR was also very active in trying to organize General Assembly commissioners for biblical causes.

PFR’s plan for moving forward is two pronged:

  1. A call to biblical faithfulness.
  2. A restructuring of the denomination.

The call to biblical faithfulness is a rallying call to Presbyterians to VOTE AGAINST the amendment that would remove G-6.0106b from the constitution. The call would also include an effort to defeat the proposed changes to the Heidelberg Confession. There is also a strong “repentance” component to this section. The repentance recognizes that we have all sinned in dealing with this issue.

The restructuring of the denomination would change the way in which churches are formed into presbyteries and synods. This restructuring would be based on non-geographic presbyteries and synods (called the “two synod” model). The two synod model would have the two main branches in the PCUSA be divided into two synods: one holding at traditional, high view of scripture and biblical interpretation and holding to the church’s historic stance on ordination as summed up by G-6.0106b, and, one synod holding a progressive view of scripture and its interpretation and holding a view on ordination standards that would allow practicing, non-repentant gay, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons to be ordained as Ministers of the Word and Sacrament, Elders and Deacons. Congregations would affiliate with like-minded presbyteries within one of the synods.

PFR will only advocate the restructuring of the denomination if such restructuring can be accomplished with theologically sound reasoning and that such a move would be practical. Over the coming month, PFR will be studying to see if the above requirement can be met.

My Assessment of the PFR response to GA:

The first prong of PFR’s response is the stay, fight, win strategy. We have been following this strategy for 30+ years. Eventually, enough biblically faithful Presbyterians will leave the denomination to make this strategy fail. I believe that the Presbyteries will defeat the proposed amendment to remove G-6.0106b from the constitution. In future years I am not so confident that the votes will be there to defeat such proposed changes. I am confident that the proposed changes to the Heidelberg Confession will be defeated because it takes 2/3 of the Presbyteries to vote in favor of a change to the Book of Confessions.

The second prong of PFR’s response is the two synod model. I believe that the two synod model is based on faulty theology. How can one group believe that homosexual intercourse is a sin and yet stay within a denomination that has a major portion of the denomination that actively affirms and teaches that homosexual intercourse is a gift from God? The two synod model is a worldly solution for churches that are afraid to stand up for biblical authority. Such a model cannot be defended using scripture.


At 6:49 PM , Blogger Red_Cleric said...

PFR also has a Northern stream from the "Presbyterians United for Biblical Concerns". Being an associate pastor for a union church in Palo Duro Union Presbytery I was very much aware of both groups. They did and continue to do good work.

My concern is that the 218th GA pretty much shot down any sort of theological non-geographical presbyteries


At 7:22 PM , Blogger Chasburge said...

You are not alone in your assessment of the PFR plan.

Check out Can Two Faiths Embrace One Future?

At 8:20 AM , Blogger Reformed Catholic said...

I'm also wondering about the likelihood of a two synod model. I suspect that the research into the biblical foundations of such a move will come to naught.

What was missed in the original post was the plan by PFR to address the way GA commissioners are selected by Presbyteries. They want to address the inequities that permit more liberally minded elders and ministers to be selected to go to GA, over those moderate and conservative elders who are often left out.

At 9:20 AM , Anonymous Marie said...

For all the talk about non-geographic models it seems no one knows that it was already proposed and failed. See here for the most recent attempt:

At 10:00 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

You are absolutely correct in recognizing "Presbyterians United for Biblical Concerns." It was a HUGE mistake on my part for failing to mention them. I spent 15 months at Highland Park Presbyterian in Dallas prior to ordination and got to know some of the key players that were leaders in the Southern church's group.

You are correct that the recent attempt to approve non-geographic presbyteries failed. I was very aware of that fact. I had intended to mention it in my comments section of the post but forgot to. Thanks for setting the record straight!

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