I wonder if a form of church isolationism isn't taking place.
When a country thinks it can be isolationist--all safe and protected by borders and the open seas--it soon learns that wars and oppression gain strength and end up on the attack. An isolationist country soon loses its isolation and becomes the focus of invasion.
It seems to me that the same effect can overtake Presbyterian congregations that grow weary of defending the faith, grow excited about "just being missional," grow distant from the very real ideological disputes in the denomination, and thus grow vulnerable to invasion and ruin by the very entities these congregations had decided to benignly ignore.
It would be a wonderful respite not to have to defend orthodox doctrine, not to have to fight the gross secularization of the church, not to have to muster the troops once again to retain biblical standards. Oh the leisure of just forgetting such unpleasantness!
But oh the danger!
Kelly Kannwischer, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship, is a fine person performing a great ministry. Recently she has written about what PGF is going to do. What she says makes good sense in many ways. It is definitely valuable and needed.
However, I fear that the PGF agenda is inadequate, given the Presbyterian world in which congregations operate. PGF reminds me of a colony joyfully planting fields and cultivating crops--and talking cutting-edge agriculture--while all around the colony destructive forces collect to overrun the prosperous band. This colony also needs to urgently take up defense, as distasteful as it may seem to the farmers who aren't soldiers.
I left a comment to Kelly on the article. Here is what I wrote:
That's great, but...
What are you going to do about a denomination that is going astray and in doing so can greatly harm if not destroy the missional work of all your churches?
Every Presbyterian church is connected. If the denomination completely falls apart or abandons the majority of Reformed theology or plays the harlot with non-Christian beliefs and practices, every single Presbyterian church will feel the consequences. The stink raised by the denomination will be attributed to every congregation that bears the Presbyterian name!
What's more, no church is invulnerable to attack and perhaps even confiscation of property and deposition of leaders. The 500-pound-gorilla churches like Peachtree may feel immune, but in no time, even such a church could be hurt badly and even destroyed by a presbytery that so chose to oppose it.
Most churches aren't the mini-denominations like the tallest-steeple churches, and they are completely vulnerable to who is running presbytery. Property can be taken, sessions can be declared dissolved, and pastors can be removed. And then what? How is missional work to continue in such a toxic or devastated
Just what does PGF plan to do about a denomination teetering on the brink of disaster? You're good people, but all it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to be merrily involved in other things deemed more important. Then Presbyterian power politics can turn on you and bite you where it hurts.
I've waited for a PGF answer about this problem, and I haven't heard much, except that such protective and restorative work seems rather yesterday and is pretty much being left to those who apparently must not get the missional message and must still like to fight instead.
That's not much help.