June 23, 2006
One of my favorite quotes concerning the PCUSA has to come from GetReligion:
The name of the game is Â“local option,Â” meaning that officials in blue pews get to read the Bible (and the denominationÂ’s own teachings) in a way that allows them to move foward on issues such as the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians and the creation Â— semi-officially, of course Â— of church rites to celebrate same-sex marriages. Meanwhile, people in red pews get to keep believing what they have believed for centuries and, of course, they get to keep sending in their pledge dollars to support national agencies that act as if basic points of doctrine and moral theology are moot, even if they remain on the books.Sounds a bit like local church autonomy, but it ends up working against conservative congregations that have been trying to stick it out in the PCUSA. And local church autonomy is a Baptist thing, not a Presby thing, so there are some people concerned about this apparant shift to a congregational form of church government.
I've been reading Mark Roberts' reaction pieces. He's got a stake in the discussion, because he is PCUSA. And he's not ready to leave, even though he is, in his own words, "...tired of the battle."
I think this must be how many conservative Southern Baptists felt thirty years ago. So many conservatives pulled out that the fight must have seemed unwinnable. Many people wrote of the SBC as a lost cause. For a long time, I was one of those people -- not at the beginning, since I was eight thirty years ago. But as a teenager, and even in college, I thought that good, solid Southern Baptist churches were rare (even though I actually found one in Lynchburg. I figured they were an exception).
Now I'm reaping the benefits of the conservatives who stuck it out. People who fought for the heart and soul of an organization that was at one time committed to Biblical Christianity. People who prayed for a day when it would be once again.
So I'm going to agree with Mark Roberts. There are many, many people who are being led to leave the PCUSA, just as many were lead to leave the SBC years ago. The people who left the SBC went on to start great independent ministries, and had a tremendous impact on the world, so I can not and will not fault them for their decision. If God is leading people out of the PCUSA, then they should go.
My prayer is that my Presbyterian brothers and sisters will learn a little from Baptist history. The people who left the SBC condemned those conservatives who stayed. Even today, there are extreme fundamentalist Baptists who will have nothing to do with Southern Baptists, or anyone who hangs around with them. The man who baptized me is one of those people -- I will never share a platform with him, because I am a Southern Baptist. There is needless division between people who should be laboring together in the fields because of the attitudes of those who left the SBC.
Don't condemn those who are being led by God to stay in the PCUSA. Maybe God will use their influence to bring the denomination back to Him, and back to a Biblical understanding of these issues that divide you. And if you are staying, don't condemn those who have had enough and are leaving. If you are being led by God, you must do what He is telling you to do, and you must respect those who God has given a different mission. If you learn anything from your Baptist brothers, learn this much from our mistakes. Fight modernism, fight liberalism. But don't fight each other.
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