Sunday, May 3, 2009

Relevance ... or are we 'relevanting' our denomination into irrelevancy?

On another blog, someone asked the question whether or not we in the PCUSA will get a rest from sexuality for at least the next two years. Some replied no, and in truth, it has started already as seen here; I replied that I felt that those on the side to keep the standard as it currently is would like to take some time discussing other things, such as how to keep this mainline denomination from becoming irrelevant in the next 10 to 15 years.

Someone replied, its already irrelevant.

As I was discussing this with a friend, she said that in making the Message relevant we have compromised the Message. We have no need for a Savior if we don't acknowledge our sin. Instead of adapting the method of delivery, we've modified the Message which we have no right to do.

As I thought more about it, I agree. The message that has survived for 2,000 years, has in the last 100 been made so relevant that it is now unrecognizable in some quarters. No longer are pulpits echoing with the truth that in response for the gift of the atonement we are to agree to try to live our lives like Christ.

Indeed, we have pastors in the mainlines who deny the resurrection, the divinity of Christ, believe Christianity and Islam (or Christianity and Buddism) are so compatible that one could be adherents of both and still be ordained ministers, and so on. We have tried to be so diverse and open to new ways of thinking, that we've lost any Christian (let alone Presbyterian) distinctions.

If all a denomination does is say I'm OK, you're OK, why bother with denominations. Which does give a reason why many non-denominational churches are growing. Not the "feel good" ministries where you don't even see a cross at the front of their mega-auditoriums, but the ones that preach Christ and Him crucified without worries about offending people with talk of sin, atonement and judgement.

I guess you can then ask why am I still in the PCUSA? Well, I've been fortunate to have been a member of PCUSA churches where the Word is rightly preached. Knowing many of those who have or are going to graduate from the better PTS gives me the idea that there is still hope for the PCUSA.

... and so it goes !!


  1. Okay, you had me until the "better PTS" part. ;)

    But seriously, excellent and thought-provoking post!

  2. Kim,

    thanks ... its been something I've been thinking about for a few weeks.


  3. There is no hope for the PC(USA).


    There is PLENTY of hope for many churches within the PC(USA), when they are centered in the gospel and the teachings of the apostles.

    When our edifice completes its tumble, there will be many equipped saints ready to rise up and build something else...and better.

  4. Very good post, RC. I like your friend's statement: "In making the Message relevant we have compromised the Message."

  5. Kim, I thought about it some more, and figure that with Iain Torrance as President of the other PTS, it may move to where this PTS is now.

    Toby, good thoughts as usual.

    QG .. thanks, occasionally I write something worth reading ;)

  6. RC, I was at PTS during the Tom Gillespie years. I respected him a great deal and still do. I even quoted him in my sermon yesterday. He is an almost perfect combination of pastor and scholar. I never missed chapel when he was preaching. I took a course on Galatians course from him. His scholarship was outstanding, and often he would go off his lecture notes and say "This one's for free" and then he would offer us a pearl of wisdom gleaned only from decades in the pastoral trenches. He was also very active in the Presbyterian Renewal movement, which angered the liberal students to no end. They found it so inappropriate that the president of the seminary would take an official stance on the sexuality issue, but I'm not sure they would have felt that way if the seminary president agreed with their stance.

  7. It seems that the board of directors at Princeton has a history of hiring Presidents who are center/right to counterbalance the faculty!!

    Perhaps the tide is turning ;)


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