This is a rather long winded response to something Alan said in response to me on one of John Shuck's comments pages. The link to that page is above. I had commented about Evangelical fears that ultimately we would be required to ordain sexually active homosexuals or we would not be ordained or installed.
Alan the fear is not that one would be required to vote for a particular candidate for office. The fear is rather that one will be refused ordination or installation if one does not agree to ordain sexually active homosexuals.
To understand what the slippery slope argument as it pertains to ordination and installation you have to take a look at the history of Fundamentalists and Evangelicals in the PCUSA and the PCUS beginning in the 1920's or more particularly how they read that history.
In 1920 the Fundamentalists had control over the PCUSA. At the end of 1929 they didn't even control the seminary which was their flagship: Princeton. Why and how this happened is terribly important. The Liberals (this was the word used at the time) didn't have the votes to change anything. The reason their position ultimately won is because there were Fundamentalists who were not willing to split the denomination. They valued unity over purity of doctrine. Charles Erdman is an example of such a Fundamentalist.
This compromise was ultimately reached on the basis of what became a slogan and a way of life in the PCUSA "theology divides, mission unites." The PCUSA did not resolve its theological differences in the 1920's. It decided to ignore them. Jack Rogers contends, and I agree with him, that the present conflicts in the PCUSA are a second fight that is a result of failing to find a central theology against which candidates for office can be measured.
One more important item. The decision made on who could be ordained was based on a statement by the GA that if it wasn't in the Book of Order (this being a reference to the 5 fundamentals) then you couldn't refuse ordination to someone if he (it was he back then) on the basis of the 5 fundamentals.
Two important things happened in the 1930's. Neo-Orthodoxy became the core doctrinal position in the PCUSA and provided a new theological center in the PCUSA. The conflicts of the 1920's were forgotten (although not by the Fundamentalists) as Neo-Orthodoxy became ascendant. The Fundamentalists thought that even Karl Barth was of the devil. On the other hand those who continued to fight what had become the status quo were kicked out of the denomination. Machen was kicked out not for any theological reason but rather because he refused to support the denominational mission agency and started his own. Instead of theological orthodoxy the denomination made organizational orthodoxy the test for ordination.
The Fundamentalists and later the Evangelicals who remained quietly formed their own educational and mission organizations outside the denomination. Young Life, Campus Crusade, Intervarsity and other organizations were born as evangelizing agencies and also as educational agencies. Mission organizations were formed like World Vision. Finally Evangelical Seminaries were formed like Fuller and Gordon Conwell. Curiously Evangelicals were being ecumenical! Their shared beliefs enabled them to reach out across denominational lines to form organizations based on their theology. What the Evangelicals did was stay in place but form their own organizations parallel to the denominational agencies. They believed they were shut out of the denominational structure and that they had no power in the denomination. And Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches were criticized for not supporting the denominational agencies even for using non denominational curriculum. I got jumped on back in the 1970's for supporting the use of Kerygma and Youth Club materials and methods because they weren't denominational. Yet both organizations were developed by mainline center oriented Presbyterian seminary professors.
Then theological consensus fell apart in the 1960's. Ironically just as the Confession of 67, a Neo-Orthodox document, was passed the Neo-Orthodox consensus fell apart with various liberation theologies, process theologies and others taking their place.
Then in the 1970's two things of great importance happened. Evangelicals coming out of the Jesus movement started to go to seminary and became MWS's in the PCUSA (acutally the UPCUSA then). They/we went to interdenominational seminaries and mainline seminaries as well. As the 1980's began Evangelicals had the potential of becoming either a very large minority or maybe even a majority in the PCUSA. But we were too young. Our power became greatest in the late 80s and the 1990s.
The second important event was the Kenyon case. While the Book of Order did not require anyone to ordain women as elders, deacons or MWS's the GAPJC interpreted the Book of Order to say this. This is the great underlying fear of Evangelicals. We are afraid that when sexually active homosexuals are allowed to be ordained within 20 years a candidate for ordination or even an already ordained MWS would be required to say s/he would ordain a sexually active homosexual or be denied ordination or a new call. After all, it's a justice issue, isn't it? So shouldn't everyone be required to fall in line? If one congregation refuses to ordain sexually active homosexuals the COM might/will come down on them like a ton of bricks. This happens in some presbyteries if a congregation doesn't have at least one woman on the session.
Then comes the 1990's. A large minority on the GAPJC suggest that since there is no prohibition of ordaining sexually active homosexuals in the Book of Order that, despite Authoritative Interpretations, sexually active homosexuals could be ordained. And thus was born amendment B or G-6.0106b. The Evangelicals, remembering the 1920s (that the fundamentals could not be used to deny someone ordination because they weren't in the Book of Order) and hearing the minority of the GAPJC decided to put the prohibition in the FoG.
Now a bit of honesty. In 1996-7 Amendment B would never have passed if it had only denied ordination to sexually active homosexuals. The amendment was written as it currently reads to pick up votes from the center. Curiously I think such an amendment that only denied ordination to sexually active homosexuals would have passed back in the late 1970's but it was decided then that an AI was enough.
So we combine several things. First the experience of the Fundamentalists back in the 1920's of losing even though they were the majority based on the fact that the 5 fundamentals were not in the Book of Order. J. G. Machen got kicked out for opposing the entrenched bureaucracy. Kenyon was denied ordination because he refused to participate in the ordination of women. Evangelicals fear that the day will come when one cannot get ordained unless s/he believes that sex between two people of the same gender is blessed by God in a lifelong, committed relationship which ultimately be marriage. And we don't trust those who say this won't happen because we remember Machen and Kenyon.
And that is where my comment came from. I'm not worried that I will be forced to vote a certain way. I vote the way I want, even when I'm the only person saying "No!" I am concerned that the day will come when someone like me will be denied ordination in the PCUSA because of what I believe. Or that I won't be able accept a new call because I will be told that promising to obey the Book of Order means that I agree that I will ordain sexually active homosexuals.
After all, it happened to Kenyon. Ordination of women became an essential not by denominational vote but by a GAPJC decision. How do I know that a future GAPJC won't make the same decision about ordaining sexually active homosexuals?