Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Prescient Renewal Leaders

Last November, 26 leaders of Mainline renewal groups issued a warning about a new tactic popping up in many of the denominations they represent in the ecumenical Association for Church Renewal. Let me quote in part from that statement:

The debate within our churches over biblical standards for human sexuality may be entering a new phase. For decades, revisionists have argued that the Scriptures, properly understood, do not prohibit homosexuality as it is practiced today. Indeed, they have insisted that biblical values of "justice" require the acceptance of homosexual relationships.

Increasingly, however, the arguments have shifted. We now see, in several denominations, a new strategy to win the church's affirmation of homosexual acts. This new strategy is less direct. It is offered as a "compromise," a "third way." Yet the effect would be the same: to undermine and ultimately to set aside the historic Christian teaching that affirms God's good gift of sexual intimacy solely within the marriage of man and woman.

We stand opposed to this false "third way," with the same firmness with which we opposed the earlier attempts to re-interpret the Bible. We warn you to beware such
"compromises" that give away too much.

The essence of the new strategy is this: to leave in church law books the orthodox standards calling Christians to fidelity in marriage and sexual abstinence in singleness, while inventing procedural devices permitting church bodies and officials to disregard the standards at will. This strategy has been proposed--and, in some cases, functionally adopted--in the Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Churches, the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Insofar as it succeeds in some of those denominations, the strategy will likely be replicated elsewhere.

That is exactly what happened at General Assembly in June! Presbyterians are now in the preposterous position of having what our Stated Clerk has termed binding national standards, the departure from which is allowable when deemed not "a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity."

Warning of exactly such nonsense, the renewal leaders counseled last November that "we cannot be content with standards that remain on paper while being emptied of all force.... This 'third way' would sever the church's practice from its doctrine. It would set a terrible precedent of a church openly acknowledging a biblical command and then treating obedience to that command as optional."

It has.

This is a ridiculous position in which to find my beloved Presbyterian Church.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!

What remains for us to do is make this crisis into a chance to be faithful, joy-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus. And doing this probably entails our growing into new institutional relationships and away from the old/dying ones like the PC(USA).

God will preserve His church!

3:17 PM, July 12, 2006  

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