Saturday, October 22, 2005
PCUSA Renewal Groups Reject Biblical Compromises on Homosexuality
In a prior blog, His Barking Dog reported and responded to the Presbyterian Task Force report on "peace, unity, and purity" and some of the observations made about it by American Baptist Dwight Stinnett. Faced with very similar issues regarding human sexuality to those being debated in the ABCUSA, a denominational task force was commissioned by the PCUSA to chart a course for dealing with the problems in their fellowship.
The final product of their work acknowledged the pain being experienced by Presbyterians on the left, the middle, and the right. It confessed that "all of us came to see that the Presbyterian Church (USA), in its current factionalized state that we have all created together by our mutual stereotyping and misuse of power, fails to offer a suffering world a sign of peace, unity, and purity that is God's gift to us in Jesus Christ."
Yet, in the final analysis, agreement eluded the conferees. They acknowledged that disagreements continue to focus on what constitutes faithful pastoral application of scriptural teaching or on which passages of Scripture are relevant to a particular question.
In other words, after a great deal of diligent study, prayer, and due consideration, the Presbyterian task force was unable to move beyond the impasse. Here is part of the response to that conclusion from the Presbyterian Coalition, a renewal group within the PCUSA. Their reactions to denominational waffling bear consideration by those of us in the ABCUSA.
The Report will not promote the purity of the church
For the past quarter century, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has repeatedly expressed its conviction regarding God's will in matters of sexual morality. The Report subverts these core sexual standards of behavior that are grounded in Scripture by substituting sincerely expressed personal opinions for rigorous biblical exegesis that has been confirmed by centuries of church tradition.
The Report accepts conflicting interpretations of Scripture without doing the hard work of helping the church to assess the respective merits of these interpretations. The Report proposes compromising the one Word of God with "words," by replacing the witness of Scripture with the product of dialogue. By replacing the authority of Scripture with a consensus-building process, the Report separates the church from its only real source of purity, Jesus Christ. The Lord of the church prays for our purity, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17).
These observations lead us to conclude that the Task Force Report does not provide what the church needs at this critical juncture in our life together. The Report will not promote the peace, unity, and purity for which the Savior prays, for which we hope, and to which we are committed.
Because we cannot commend the whole Report to the church, our renewal organizations will offer resources to assist the church in discerning a better way to seek its peace, unity, and purity.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
Those of us in the American Baptist Evangelicals camp will find a large measure of agreement with our Presbyterian sisters and brothers in their renewal movement. Peace, unity, and purity cannot be reached in a denomination where biblical authority has become the object of hermeneutical food fights. Replacing the Word of God with the words of dialogue will never satisfy those seeking a true peace, unity, and purity under the authority of God's Word.