Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


Can We, Can We All Get Along? Section 4

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Part 8 of series: The End of the Presbyterian Church USA? Revisited
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series
No, We Can’t All Get Along as a Unified Denomination
Of course we Presbyterians haven’t been getting along very well for a long time. We’ve been fighting over homosexuality for thirty years. This isn’t just a matter of intransigence or a quest for power. I’ve shown that those who support gay ordination see it as a matter of fundamental justice, while those who oppose it see it as a matter of fundamental righteousness. If I’m anywhere close to correct in this analysis, then it’s obvious why the PCUSA is so divided today, has been so divided in the past, and will continue to be so divided in the future. We’re not dealing with relatively insignificant matters of church practice or theological issues about which we can agree to disagree, but with fundamental biblical realities and convictions. We’re talking here about justice and righteousness, and ultimately about sin and love. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.
So, though we who disagree on this issue can get along in a wide variety of contexts, we clearly cannot get along when it comes to the question of who should and should not be ordained. And this is one of the essential functions of a denomination. Thus we can’t just agree to live and let live when it comes to homosexuality and ordination. If one group of Presbyterians ordains someone and another group of Presbyterians cannot recognize that ordination, then those groups are profoundly divided. Such a division makes denominational connectionalism extremely difficult if not impossible to maintain. It also cripples many efforts at unified mission. And it greatly complicates the ministry of individual churches.
It seems that the new moderator of the General Assembly, Bruce Reyes-Chow, agrees with me about this, though we come down on opposite sides of the gay ordination issue. Here’s an excerpt from one of his blogs:

For some issues I think this [agreeing to disagree] is entirely possible. For me I can live with agreeing to disagree on things such as . . .

How do we engage in evangelism and mission
What language we use for God
Our voice/action in regards to the Middle East
Positions on a myriad of social issues;

But when it comes to homosexuality, regardless on which side of the aisle you live on, how long can one be engaged in a community where the position is held in the contrary? Could we agree to disagree about the ordination of women? Could we agree to disagree about interracial marriage? I don’t think we could, but yet for some reason we believe we can in this case.
This is not a call for folks who disagree either way to get the heck out of dodge, but it is a little nudge out there to see what folks are thinking. If in the end, it looks like we are headed in a particular direction or if we are already there, would our efforts be better spent in grace-filled disengagement that allows for new life? Do we keep passionately engaged in the discourse trying to reach some kind of resolution? Do we sit in the middle with a posture of “wait and see” and/or “don’t ask, don’t tell”? (Photo: Bruce Reyes-Chow as moderator)

I’m grateful for Bruce’s willingness to raise this issue and to speak so openly. Even though he and I disagree on several things, I find his candor to be a breath of fresh air. And I would be quite glad to team up with him in a variety of ministries, even though I’m not sure it would be productive for us to serve in the same denomination indefinitely. Along with Bruce, I wonder if our efforts as Presbyterians would “be better spent in grace-filled disengagement that allows for new life?”
For thirty years members of the PCUSA have battled over the ordination of active homosexuals, with one side fighting for justice and the other side fighting for righteousness. Most votes, whether in General Assemblies or in presbyteries, have been relatively close. Whether one side or the other is on top for the moment, the denomination is deeply divided. And this division will continue because, whatever you might think of PCUSA folk, or if you are one, whatever you might think of the other side in this debate, both sides operate with integrity and conviction and persistence given their beliefs about homosexuality. Neither side will surrender its integrity or give up its conviction, even if it’s currently losing the battle. In the end, either one side will win definitively, and the other side will leave the PCUSA, or both sides will keep on fighting until there is no more PCUSA to fight for. If current trends continue, the end of the PCUSA, one way or another, is both inevitable and imminent.



  • Jim

    So what do we do now? It seems the only concrete step we can take immediately is to stop per capita payments to the denomination. They can pursue their agenda if they want, but they shouldn’t be surprised if half the denomination stops funding them.

  • Bill Goff

    So now will there be a split in th PCUSA with about half becoming Righteous Presbyterians an the other half becoming Justice Presbyterians? How tragic to devide along such terms! Perhaps this divorce is inevitable. I think that is the view of the majority of commenters at this blog. But to me the divorce is unnecessary and could be avoided if both sides engaged in a more serious study of God’s Word expressed in the Bible.

  • Brett

    “But to me the divorce is unnecessary and could be avoided if both sides engaged in a more serious study of God’s Word expressed in the Bible.”
    How would that make any difference in the outcome when one side of the debate insists on twisting the plain declarations of the Bible into meaningless cultural anachronisms that provide no relevant modern guidance and instead relies on moral relativism as a superior method of gauging behavioral standards?

  • Bill Goff

    Brett: a good way to start would be to stop accusing people who have a different interpretation of crucial Bible passages as “twisting the plain declarations of the Bible”. There was a time in Christian history when the vast majority believed that the plain teaching of the Bible was that the earth was the center of the universe. Only in this century did the Catholic Church change its mind regarding Galalio who questioned the Church’s interpretation of the Bible. God’s word is authorative; our interpretations are not. Both the righteous and the just and everybody in between needs to be humble in regard to his or her interpretation of the Bible. Accusations of Bible twisting are alienating, not reconciling.

  • http://none Matt Ferguson

    Bill,
    How long have you been in this midst of this debate? Your comment, “But to me the divorce is unnecessary and could be avoided if both sides engaged in a more serious study of God’s Word expressed in the Bible.” is insulting to folks on both sides of this issue—as if we haven’t been engagged in a serious study of God’s Word. If that is what you think, then let me tell you that you know of not what you say and you must be rather new to the whole debate.
    As far as “twisting the plain declarations of the Bible”, you need to consider the methods of interpretation being used and ask if the ones being used (by either group) result in finding what the writer of the passages in question intended to convey or are simply methods that, if used, can lead one to make the text say what the reader is wanting it to say. If you are honest in your examination of that issue, you will come to see the truth in the charge of “twisting” against one of these groups.

  • Gene

    I agree with Bill Goff that the Bible is NOT a science book. My question for all is, “Why would you even equate race and gender with sexual orientation?” Here you must look to science for answers. Race and gender cannot be changed.(Yes, there is surgery and there are hormone treatments, but these do NOT change an individual’s chromosomal makeup.) Please, everyone, no matter which side of this argument you take, or what church you attend, read http://www.narth.com/docs/hom101.html before you assume that sexual orientation must be equal to race or gender when it comes to issues of justice and equality. This is not to attack the dignity of any human being who is a child of God and loved by God. But the irrational acceptance of social engineering above hard scientific data needs to be exposed.

  • David Lenz

    Mark, thanks so much for this series. Your clarity is a gift to the church.
    Will you have another post with recommendations about next steps – for both Justice Presbyterians and Righteousness Presbyterians?
    Will you be not only descriptive but prescriptive?

  • Brett

    Well Bill,
    Sorry if you thought that my figure of speech was antagonistic, but I used it to illustrate the absurdity of appealing to reliance on interpretation of the Truth by parties who have demonstrated that they have no intention of seriously considering opposing viewpoints, even if they are espoused by the Lord Himself. If that offends you, that’s too bad. It’s still an accurate description of what they do to give the impression of giving God His due.
    As for your repeated attempt to draw a parallel between the topic of this discussion, church sanction of homosexual behavior, and technologically outmoded worldviews, you couldn’t be farther off base. As far as we’re concerned, we are the center of the universe! In empirical terms, we are the only sentient living beings in the universe.
    Of course, this obsolete Bible that you continue to reference asserts that there are other created beings, so your point is incorrect anyway.
    As for the punishments of the Old Testament – what’s your point? The sins for which the Law of Moses prescribed them are still considered sins. I’ll grant you that we’re no longer in the cultural milieu of a tribal theocracy, so there’s the difference in the allowable severity of punishment for violations of law. That doesn’t justify conforming to the moral standards of unbelievers. We’re in the world, but still not of the world.

  • http://taco-lover.blogspot.com Scott Williams

    Unfortunately, the evidence Mark lays out is compelling, as affirmed by Reyes-Chow.
    Of course the temptation for both sides will be to be angry, bitter, etc. I think the challenge for us as we respond is to do so in love, striving to maintain harmony between the two sides (and anyone in between). I hope that I myself and all of you may respond in a way that we may, “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 NRSV) For those who argue against gay ordination on the basis that its supporters do not heed scripture, I encourage you to heed the abundance of scripture that encourages us to love one another, etc. as we respond to this issue.
    Now begins the real challenge: to respond in a way that holds true to our convictions AND that is becoming of a faithful follower of Christ.

  • Brett

    Accusations of anger, bitterness, and insensitivity notwithstanding, there comes a time to call heresy and apostasy for what they are. That doesn’t mean that the one who tells the truth of the matter is unloving – rather the opposite is the case.
    Saying that proponents of preposterously un-scriptural behavior should not be ordained to leadership positions in the Body of Christ is not the same thing as condemning the individuals who engage in those practices. In fact it’s a demonstration of caring for and about the people involved as well as those who would be under their leadership and using their examples as models.
    I think that Bill was excessively sensitive in taking offense at my remarks, but I suspect that he was merely using the tactic to distract from the essence of my point, instead of responding to it directly, since that’s what he’s done every time that he’s discussed this subject so far. He knows that there is no real substance to his argument so he uses an ad hominem deflection in the hope that no one will notice that. He’s typical of the pro-practicing-gay ordination side of the debate that I’ve seen.
    If a couple of you think that I’m behaving in an unseemly or disrespectful manner, I disagree. We are called on to defend the faith and point out gross misconduct in affairs of the fellowship, and since this thread is devoted to discussing that topic, then I’m well within the limits of reasonable civil discussion in my opinion. We aren’t discussing the behavior of a particular person anyhow; we’re talking about acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior.
    I will, however, in the interest of preserving the tranquility of this blog, refrain from posting further on this subject.

  • Sam Huffman

    If Mark Roberts had been at Philadelphia in 1776 instead of John Witherspoon, we’d all be singing “God Save the Queen” before baseball games!
    All of his blather accomplishes precisely NOTHING. Thanks for rearranging these deck chairs on the PCUSA Titanic, Mark. They look so much better now.

  • http://www.chrisenoch.blogspot.com/ Chris Enoch

    Bill Goff wrote: “But to me the divorce is unnecessary and could be avoided if both sides engaged in a more serious study of God’s Word expressed in the Bible.’
    Hey Bill: I think even the conservatives like me have studied the Bible very dilligently. Mark Roberts was my Greek professor, he forced me to. :)
    The serious study of the Bible is what led to me changing my point of view on this issue nearly 20 years ago. There was no way I could get around (and Lord knows I tried) what the Scritprues teach.
    I wrote an piece today about unity. The question is – is there a call for unity at all costs? Is there really a call at all for it.
    Please read http://www.chrisenoch.blogspot.com for my further thoughts on the issues.
    God bless you (and I mean it),
    Chris

  • Sam Huffman

    After reading Mark Roberts’ blog, I am convinced he has faith and wants the denomination to be restored and reformed. He just isn’t willing to do ANYTHING about it!
    “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17.
    With friends on our side like Mark Roberts, who needs enemies?

  • Dave

    Mark, Thanks the clarity you’ve offered by discussing both sides of this issue. In trying to understand the pro gay ordination thinking, could someone point me to a website where this position is justified scripturally?

  • Jerry Deck

    Sam,
    If it feels like no one’s listening to you, you’re right.
    Mark,
    Thanks for your insights. I’m not sure I agree with you that we must now split into two denominations, but I appreciate hearing that vantage point.

  • http://www.fpc-lj.org Alan Trafford

    Thanks for this helpful series, Mark. Of course, the obvious question is “Now, what?” I understand Sam’s frustration, though I don’t appreciate his method of expressing it. We’ve asked the diagnostic questions, and many of the answers have turned out to be the same. At what point do we decide to take the medicine?

  • Jim

    #14 Dave, here is one piece that is widely circulated among “progressives”:
    “What the Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality,” by Rev. Mel White
    http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-gay-christian
    Be warned, however, to read with a very critical eye; there is a lot of deceptive and selective proof-texting going on (something they are always accusing Christians of doing). Much of the scripture appealed to is twisted, taken out of context, or they omit reference to the other verses that contradict their assertions. Or they explain away the plain meaning of the Scripture by arguing the writer was actually talking about something else. Plus they support their arguments with a number of logical fallacies, such as “since in the past people have misused the Bible for bad things, e.g., to support slavery, they must also be misusing the Bible here.”
    Here’s just a few examples (you could probably spend 40 or 50 pages totally dissecting the deceptions). For example, they state that the “Jewish prophets are silent about homosexuality,” without disclosing that a number of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephnaniah) use Sodom and Gomorrah as the paradigm of the sin and rebellion that God has punished. For that matter, so did Jesus. (Gospels of Matthew and Luke)
    You will also meet such classic arguments as the “Holiness Code” (the repackaged “Shellfish Argument”) which argues that sexual morality standards only applied to the Jews in the Old Testament (completely ignoring all the verses in the New Testament which say that God’s standards haven’t changed in this regard).
    Also they trot out the classic liberal assertion that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin was not that of homosexuality, but “inhospitality” or “arrogance”(specifically rebutted by II Peter 2:5-7 and Jude 1:7). “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)
    They also intentionally misquote Scripture. For example, they write that Ezekiel, referring to Sodom, said “They were arrogant and this was abominable in God’s eyes.” What the verse actually says is “They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (NIV, other translations use “and committed abomination”–cross-reference that other Leviticus verse they don’t like either.) In other words, it wasn’t just some passive state of “arrogance” that God thought “abominable.” It was that they committed abominable and detestable acts. But they simply rewrite the verse to say what they want.
    Finally, they argue that today’s homosexual behavior is totally different from that described in the Bible, so that none of the verses really apply.
    The problem is that most people in mainline denominations are so Biblically illiterate that they just soak this stuff in as being the truth.

  • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ Neil

    When they trot out the shellfish or similar arguments I view that as a concession speech. It means that despite their degrees they are ignorant of scripture or willfully distorting it.
    The shellfish argument is full of holes but is appealing to many because so few bother to read the passages in context. I encourage you to read flaws of the shellfish argument.

  • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ Neil

    Jim, excellent analysis of the Soulforce piece. What a train wreck of bad exegesis and logical fallacies! I may fisk that someday when I have time.
    Mark, I am so glad to see leaders note that we can’t get along as unified denominations this way. “Unity over doctrine” is a ridiculously un-Biblical idea, yet the liberal theologians apply it regularly.

  • http://www.catholic.com Tom

    It seems those members of the PCUSA who rightly recognize homosexual behavior as intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law are at a crossroads. They can break away to establish a new church (which will, in time, split again on this or some other doctrine) further fracturing Christ’s Body, or. . .
    Or, they can always come home. http://www.chnetwork.org/about.htm
    The Catholic Church has taught consistently for 2,000 years that homosexual acts are contrary to the law of God (and, at the same time, that *individuals* who struggle with such tendencies must always be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity). Rest assured the Catholic Church will continue to proclaim this truth for the next 2,000 for She was founded not on sand, but on the Rock of Peter by Christ himself. And she welcomes all with the open arms of Christ.

  • Gene

    Mark is a thoughtful and insightful writer, and a gracious host to allow us to comment on his blog, especially on these issues facing the PCUSA. Thank you Mark. I am still on the rolls of a PCUSA church but have stopped attending and am totally dismayed that these ordination issues are even being discussed.
    Thank you, Tom, for adding to this discussion. I’m glad you brought up the Roman Catholic Church because, as we all know from the headlines, the RC church has “been there and done that.” Not that they “voted” to ordain gay priests, but that some priests either lied about their orientation or failed to abide by their vows. And look at the carnage this produced in terms of shattered lives and the financial consequences to the church. No, I am not insinuating that GLBT folks are child molesters, though some statistics show that gay men are more likely to molest children than heterosexual men. See http://www.afajournal.org/archives/23060000011.asp
    The point I want to make is that I agree with Tom in that I view sexual identity disorders as “disorders.” That has nothing to do with an individual’s piety, training, or sincerity and depth of their Christian faith. But it has everything to do with whether they should be held up as role models (as deacons, elders, or ministers) for our children and grandchildren.
    Tom, unfortunately you are correct that Protestant groups will continue to “multiply by division” because they will continue to argue “ad nauseum” over what the Bible says rather than let common sense, science, statistics, and natural law become part of the discussion.

  • Jim

    #20 Tom, I think for some of us, we’re going to have to figure out how we become missionaries to PCUSA, even if we may suffer rejection and persecution as a result.
    My problem is that I see the GA’s actions not so much as legitimating homosexual conduct, but in rather disposing of all of the standards of sexual purity that are emphasized throughout the scriptures, the New Testament in particular. When I sarcastically mentioned to a fellow Presbyterian that I guessed that disposing of the ordination standards now meant I could now fool around on my wife, he said, “oh no, that would be adultery!” What??? What is the difference? How do you pick and choose what parts of God’s standards you will follow?? And I fear, no, I know, that all pretense of sexual morality in the church will soon be discarded if this goes through, as it has been in the Episcopal Church.
    As many others have said, the current issue of homosexuality is only the “presenting symptom.” The real problem is much deeper: ignorance of the Bible, the Confessions and Catechisms, and our failure to understand our responsibilities as believers to try to lead Spirit-filled lives and lives that would be pleasing to God. That is what we have to work on, not the narrow issue of homosexuality.
    Finally, I feel in a real bind as an elder. On the one hand, it would be a dereliction of duty for me to walk away from my church, which I dearly love and for whose people Scripture tells me I have a responsibility as an elder. And yet, as an elder I also feel I have a responsibility to say that I cannot in good conscience abide by the present positions of PCUSA. I think every elder on our session feels the same way.
    Is this a matter that can be covered by scrupling? Ironically, it has been used to get around Biblical standards. I know I am already ordained, but can I least at this point go on record by sending a formal letter to presbytery and the national office declaring a scruple to the present positions of PCUSA, that they are contrary to Scripture and the doctrines and teachings of the church and that I cannot agree to them?

  • Cynthia

    #22 Jim,
    Excellent description of the dilemma facing conservative elders and ministers in the PC(USA).
    For decades, we conservatives have told ourselves that “my local church is faithful to the Bible and nothing has changed in the PC(USA) constitution (Book of Confessions and Book of Order). Therefore, I can faithfully continue in the PC(USA) and I can answer “yes” to all the ordination/installation questions (Book of Order G-14.0207).”
    After the 217th and 218th General Assemblies, more and more of us (conservatives) are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that one or both parts of the PC(USA)’s constitution will be changed either directly by vote of the presbyteries or indirectly by Authoritative Interpretation (AI) in ways that conservatives cannot/will not accept. Therefore, we are now or will soon be at the point where we have a problem with portions of the ordination/installation vows. (The rapidly declining denominational membership is an indication that many have already had enough and are “voting” with their feet.)
    Two vows that an elder must answer in the affirmative at ordination or installation are troublesome to me.
    (1) Will you be governed by our church’s polity, and will you abide by its discipline?
    I personally can no longer agree to be governed by a polity that I believe is being manipulated to lead people astray.
    As far as church discipline is concerned, the only “essential tenet” of the PC(USA) that is being consistently enforced is the property clause. How loving and “just” is that? Please do not talk to me about God’s love or the need to be ecumenical while damning the EPC, and suing congregations in civil court or charging ransom for their properties just because these churches want to leave the PC(USA) over deep felt conviction. What a Christian witness for the world to see!
    (2) Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church?
    I cannot “go along to get along” or even to “agree to disagree” about core Christian beliefs. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I sense that social justice advocates want more than tolerance of their viewpoint. They want a validation of the “correctness” of their viewpoint. I foresee a day when this vow may be used to attempt to silence anyone who dares to speak against the social justice viewpoint. In fact, this day may have already arrived.
    I’ve become convinced that conservatives (righteousness viewpoint) and liberals (social justice viewpoint) within the PC(USA) are locked in a death dance that will kill the denomination unless these two groups separate. I hope that Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow and other PC(USA) leaders will quit trying to assure us that “all is well.” It isn’t well and can never be well since the viewpoints are so different and so strongly held. I pray they will actively support a gracious separation and let those congregations that want to disaffiliate go with their property.
    Cynthia Summers

  • http://www.catholic.com Tom

    Gene and Jim:
    I am sorry for the crisis you have found yourselves in. I can only imagine the emotions/struggles one faces when his church pronounces something he knows to be at odds with divine revelation. I wish there were an easy solution but I’m afraid — as you surely know — there really isn’t. If I were a Presbyterian, none of the three options presented now to you would be particularly enticing to me: (a) remain in the PCUSA with teachings diametrically opposed to Sacred Scripture (b) correct this error and form the New PCUSA — “NPCUSA” (c) find another church.
    Option ‘a’ would not really be an option for me at all; which is why in my last post I framed the crisis really in terms of the remaining two while trying to make a case for ‘c’.
    But the only way I could be at ease with entering a new church is if I had confidence its teachings 1) did not contradict Sacred Scripture and 2) would not succumb to future buffetting by the winds of secular ideologies and contemporary doctrines.
    Once again I offer an invitation, especially to you, Jim and Gene, to take a closer look at Catholicism. You might be surprised, even moved, by the reasoned explanation the Church gives for all of her teachings, and by the tender love she has for all of mankind: sinner and saint, rich and poor.
    If you do wish to begin such an investigation, a good place to start is at the link you’ll be sent to by clicking on my name. Thank you guys — and thank you Mark — for hearing me out and being so respectful. You all have the true marks of a Christian.

  • Cynthia

    #22 Jim,
    Excellent description of the dilemma facing conservative elders and ministers in the PC(USA).
    For decades, we conservatives have told ourselves that “my local church is faithful to the Bible and nothing has changed in the PC(USA) constitution (Book of Confessions and Book of Order). Therefore, I can faithfully continue in the PC(USA) and I can answer “yes” to all the ordination/installation questions (Book of Order G-14.0207).”
    After the 217th and 218th General Assemblies, more and more of us (conservatives) are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that one or both parts of the PC(USA)’s constitution will be changed either directly by vote of the presbyteries or indirectly by Authoritative Interpretation (AI) in ways that conservatives cannot/will not accept. Therefore, we are now or will soon be at the point where we have a problem with portions of the ordination/installation vows. (The rapidly declining denominational membership is an indication that many have already had enough and are “voting” with their feet.)
    Two vows that an elder must answer in the affirmative at ordination or installation are troublesome to me.
    (1) Will you be governed by our church’s polity, and will you abide by its discipline? I personally can no longer agree to be governed by a polity that I believe is being manipulated to lead people astray. As far as church discipline is concerned, the only “essential tenet” of the PC(USA) that is being consistently enforced is the property clause. How loving and “just” is that? Please do not talk to me about God’s love or the need to be ecumenical while condemning the EPC, and suing congregations in civil court or charging ransom for their properties just because these churches want to leave the PC(USA) over deep felt conviction. What a Christian witness for the world to see!
    (2) Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church? I cannot “go along to get along” or even to “agree to disagree” about core Christian beliefs. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I sense that social justice advocates want more than tolerance of their viewpoint. They want a validation of the “correctness” of their viewpoint. I foresee a day when this vow may be used to attempt to silence anyone who dares to speak against the social justice viewpoint. In fact, this day may have already arrived.
    I’ve become convinced that conservatives (righteousness viewpoint) and liberals (social justice viewpoint) within the PC(USA) are locked in a death dance that will kill the denomination unless these two groups separate. I hope that Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow and other PC(USA) leaders will quit trying to assure us that “all is well.” It isn’t well and can never be well since the viewpoints are so different and so strongly held. I pray they will actively support a gracious separation and let those congregations that want to disaffiliate go with their property.
    Cynthia Summers

  • James

    re: #22, Jim said, “Finally, I feel in a real bind as an elder. On the one hand, it would be a dereliction of duty for me to walk away from my church, which I dearly love and for whose people Scripture tells me I have a responsibility as an elder. And yet, as an elder I also feel I have a responsibility to say that I cannot in good conscience abide by the present positions of PCUSA. I think every elder on our session feels the same way.”
    I can appreciate your struggles and agree you have accepted a responsibility for guiding and leading your church. In your mind, wouldn’t it be an appropriate response to work with the Session and congregation to determine if God is calling you in another direction? You are not turning your back on the congregation and walking away by suggesting the entire congregation turn their backs on what is now an apostate denomination and turn towards God.
    In fact, isn’t it your duty as an Elder to discern God’s will for your people and advocate action that will allow your church to bring glory to God, worship the Lord Jesus, and get on with the called mission and stop expending energy in fighting with those that have turned away from God’s will for His people? So, in my opinion, it isn’t a matter of dereliction of duty, but rather fulfilling the duty you have been called to do.

  • Dave

    #17 Jim Thanks for your links and the context to the pro gay ordination scriptural justification. My take is to always “seek to understand, and then to be understood” so I appreciate the help. I feel better educated going into my next session meeting where this is on the agenda. On the one hand, I’m encouraged to see some on the pro gay ordination side attempt to justify their position scripturally. On the other hand, the justification on the Soulforce site is quite lacking. One of the more amusing arguments was that the Greeks didn’t have a word for homosexual…..this is the Greeks we’re talking about.

  • http://graceandlaw.blogspot.com adel thalos

    This has nothing to do with brothers and sisters separating. This is not a family dispute that requires a divorce. Clearly those who have decided to take this denomination captive to worldly Satanic thought cannot dream of separation, for it would mean the loss of money, prestige and power. Are there no leaders left who have not been seduced by liberal and neoorthodox thought. We have become a people of accomodation, dining with the devil.

  • http://www.communionpres.org RevK

    Hopefully in the spirit of Christian charity (and because Tom has made overtures…) I would also humbly submit for your consideration an historic PRESBYTERIAN denomination that has defined herself as faithful to the scriptures and the Solas with grace and peace for over 200 years: http://www.arpchurch.org.
    Pax!

  • http://www.shuckandjive.blogspot.com john shuck

    Mark,
    I appreciate these posts and your thoughtfulness in writing them. I haven’t weighed in until now. One thing I have learned is that I cannot make any decisions regarding what anyone else should or can do. No one seems particularly interested in anyone else’s grand plan (or not enough are interested to make any plan happen).
    For me, I will just live with what we have and who we are. I will work for more “justice” and stay in communion with those who work for more “righteousness.” Some will decide differently.
    We may not like the pain and the fighting that goes on with this struggle, but it is what we have in front of us and probably will be for quite some time to come.
    I posted my own “grand plan” today, which no one will likely find compelling but me!
    Blessings,
    john

  • http://gladerungladerunchurch.org Greg Wiest

    Mark,
    Thanks for bringing clarity to the issue. I am one of several folks who have brought non-geographic presbyteries as a solution to our current impasse. We call it the eLink amendment from Beaver Butler Presbytery. It recognizes that we are at an impasse and that there is a third way forward. Ultimately, it allows the two world views to compete without constant bickering within middle governing bodies. The issue is not homosexuality but rather the view of Scripture itself.
    Greg Wiest

  • Lannie Pasley

    This is the best site for anybody who desires to find out about this topic. You notice so much its almost onerous to argue with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a topic thats been wrote about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mark D. Roberts. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 2:09:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Conclusions
In this series on the death of Jesus, I have presented four different perspectives on why Jesus had to die: Roman, Jewish, Jesus’, and Early Christian. I believe that each of these points of view has merit, and that we cannot fully understand the necessity of Jesus’ death without taking them all

posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever,

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy jewelry to associate the cross with love. But, in the first

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (15:3). Yet this text doesn’t expl

posted 2:30:03am Apr. 07, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.