Thursday, July 8, 2010

Here we go again

Since the early 90's, many in favor of gay ordination within the pcusa have fought long and hard to remove G.60106b from the Book of Order because it stands in the way of the ordination of homosexuals. In case you don't know, the current language that everyone is fighting over reads:
Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and / or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament (G-6.0106b).

A committee of the 219th GA meeting in Minneapolis voted yesterday to recommend to the full assembly of commissioners that this language be stricken from our constitution and replaced with the following language:

“Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.” The governing body responsible for ordaining or installing a candidate “shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office,” and determine the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill the requirements presented in the constitutional questions for those being ordained and installed.
“Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

The differences between the two statements are like night and day. The current language upholds standards for leaders in the church. The second statement is deliberately vague despite the fact that the idea of moral and spiritual qualifications  for church leadership is evident in Scripture.

Paul told Timothy that deacons needed certain qualifications before they were deemed ready to serve (I Timothy 3:8). They should be tested first- (I Timothy 3:10) and they should reflect a quality of home life that honors God (I Timothy 3:12), and finally, their lifestyle should reflect faith and commitment to Jesus Christ (I Timothy 3:13).

If the 219th General Assembly were to approve the committee’s recommendation, the proposed constitutional change would then need approval from a majority of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries. This has happened three other times and each time the presbyteries ratified/upheld the “fidelity and chastity” language in the Book of Order. 

The other matter that should be of concern are overtures or bills seeking to redefine marriage as no longer between a man and a woman, but between two persons. This issue will also be addressed this week.

These are serious times.  Our leaders are deceived and led astray by doctrines that are of this world and not of God's kingdom. Romans 12: 1-2

What then must we do?
Remain prayerful. Fast and pray for the pcusa 
Pray that the committee's recommendation coming to the floor of GA be defeated
Pray that hundreds of people would come to Christ through the preaching of the gospel in the pcusa
Pray that long-standing slavery to sin be conquered
Pray that spiritual dullness be replaced by vibrant joy

Pray that followers of Christ in the pcusa would remain vigilant and not cave in to societal pressures to conform
Pray that weak faith be replaced by bold witness,
Pray that a spirit of repentance would come over our leaders

Pray for the glory of God. In the end Christ will reign. The pcusa will not reign. So don't lose heart even though many disheartening and gospel denying actions are taking place. Christ will reign! 

Visit Presbyterians for Renewal  website for additional information and daily updates from GA