I admit to being embarrassed by the Presbyterian Church sometimes. A year ago my doctor gave my wife a lecture about the 2004 GA decision about divestment in
But I'm not leaving the PCUSA. It would be better to say I can't leave the PCUSA.
I believe the only time to leave a denomination is when the denomination either becomes apostate or an action of the denomination would cause one to do something that is against one's conscience. We aren't there.
I read yesterday that a minister in Florida is leaving for the EPC with most of his congregation because he thinks the PCUSA is apostate because of the PUP report. I didn't and still don't approve of the PUP report. I was a overture advocate from my presbytery to speak against the PUP report. But was the PUP report apostate?
Let's define the word: "One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause." (from TheFreeDictionary. Yes, I Googled it.) Has the PCUSA abandoned the one true Christian faith? I think not. We have a Book of Confessions that every ordained person in the denomination affirms contains the "essentials of the Reformed faith." We haven't declared that the Book of Confessions is wrong. We say as a denomination that we believe in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the full divinity and humanity of Jesus, in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, in salvation by grace alone, salvation by faith alone, and the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures for for faith and life. Even people who think the PUP report didn't change anything and is the greatest thing since sliced bread in the PCUSA believe all that. Well, most of us. Governing bodies do make mistakes sometimes in our examination of candidates. To quote the Westminster Confession: "All synods or councils since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both." (Book of Confessions, 6.175) So yes, sometimes a session or a presbytery makes a mistake and ordains someone who isn't really a Christian or who is a heretic. And yes, sessions, presbyteries, synods and general assemblies make mistakes. Sometimes they make decisions that are not in accord with the will of God or that are not Biblically grounded. But that doesn't make the denomination apostate. It makes us all together and in our various governing bodies and individually human and sinners and not God. We err. We aren't omniscient and we do sin.
Please be assured, I'm not celebrating that fact. The Church is a school for forgiven sinners. We are to teach and learn how to be more faithful Christians both in our beliefs and in our actions. But the truth is we aren't perfect.
No, I am not a Pollyanna. I work hard as a pastor to make sure that when I preach the Word it really is, to the best of my ability what the Bible says to this generation, no matter how difficult the passage may be to hear or to say. I teach the faith once received by the saints as best I can. And as a member of presbytery I stand up and shoot my mouth off and argue with the best of them. Does the session or the presbytery always bow down and say, "Yes Bob, we hear and agree with your great wisdom?" Of course not! Even my wife, wisely, does not do that! Am I sometimes wrong and the rest of the session or the rest of the presbytery right, (or maybe all of us wrong in different ways)? Of course! Am I sometimes right and the decision of the session or presbytery wrong? Probably not as often as I would like to think! But I have the obligation to state what I believe is right.
Read Church history. There never has been a time when the Church made perfect decisions and was at peace. The history of the Ecumenical Councils on the Trinity and the Divinity and Humanity of Christ read like a comedy of errors and a study in how not to come to good theological decisions. If you think Presbyterians get up to bad high jinks in our politics, read about the Robber Council of Ephesus!
Augustine was right. The Church is a bunch of sinners. But we are forgiven sinners. Don't give up on the PCUSA. And God, we Presbyterians believe, brought us together for a purpose. God isn't ready for the divorce of the PCUSA. God still has much to do through us.