Recently I was asked why I maintain my anonymity on this blog. After all, it's not as if I'm a widely read blogger! This may sound trite, but I stay anonymous to protect my friends.
I often speak of people I know who are (or were) in the process of becoming a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. As many Presbyterians know, this is not an easy process. Every step of the way you are evaluated, tested, and evaluated again. Psychological tests, Bible Knowledge and Ordination exams, written statements of faith; the testing requirements go on and on.
Then there are the evaluations and meetings with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, or CPM. Members of the CPM are drawn from the elders and ministers of the Presbytery, and they all bring to the table their personal perspectives and beliefs. All the previous tests taken on route to be ordained are objective, unfortunately the CPM can be a hotbed of subjectivity.
In the ideal world, candidates would be judged on their fitness to pastor, their ability to preach, and their belief in the saving power of Christ. In the real world, it's often based on if you use enough inclusive language in your statement of faith, how P.C. you are in your beliefs about inclusion, and whether or not you're male or female.
Now, enough with the background for my reasoning to stay anonymous, let me talk of myself and the friends I protect.
I make no bones about the fact that I am conservative. I'm not as conservative as some, no posts about the Regulative Principle of Worship from me; but I'm more conservative than most, again no posts about affirming non-celibate LGBT ministers here either. I am a Five Solas Presbyterian, one who believes that Christ shed His blood, died, and rose to redeem us from our sins. Unlike some who are ministers in the PCUSA, I believe the Resurrection happened, that the Apostles saw the risen Lord, and that He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father. The Nicene Creed is more than just words on a page, it is the bedrock of my faith.
The problem is that if I reveal who I am, I can accidentally tar those whom I write about with the brush some would use to paint my beliefs; and this could submarine those friends who are in the process. It is a shame that this could happen, but I know of at least two people who have had their conservative views cause problems for them; and these are women candidates.
One had a Session that was fully supportive of her starting the process by becoming an Inquirer, however the pastor at that church was dead set against letting this conservative woman proceed.
Another had views that were diametrically opposite those of the E.P. at her presbytery. The E.P. had some influence on who would be on the various committees, and used it to stack the CPM with like minded individuals. This CPM consistently caused problems for my friend, and her children, who were also in the process.
Another female friend in a very liberal presbytery luckily had a CPM advisor who was a conservative and who provided advice on how to make it through the CPM without getting 'flagged'.
Now I trust that there are non-celibate inquirers/candidates who also try to stay below the radar at conservative presbyteries. FWIW, from what I can tell, they usually move to a more liberal presbytery where they wouldn't have to stay below the radar. However, they are trying to hide their inability to resist their sinful nature, rather than hide their faithfulness to the scriptures.
Which is worse?? I leave that to the reader, but I suggest failing to recognize and repent of sin is a pretty good indicator.
More than likely I will be trashed by those come across this blog, and disagree with that statement. They will call me homophobic, backward, traditionalist, and (horror of horrors) that epithet of last resort Evangelical.
I have no problem with that, because they're MY beliefs, and I'd say so overtly, but I've a duty to my friends. Perhaps, in a year or two when everyone has been granted leave to circulate their PIFs, I'll reveal who I am.
... and so it goes !!