Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fellowship Gathering Hecklers

This week, the Fellowship of Presbyterians are holding their August conference. Many evangelical Presbyterians are trying to follow the meeting by using Twitter. A hashtag was created for the meeting to make it very easy to follow the conversation: #MN2011.

There are some at the conference who are giving a fairly good play by play of the proposals. Very informative, and very exciting proposals.

However, there are a few tweeters who are obviously not happy about the conference. In fact, they're downright offended!! How dare those evangelicals talk about The Word, standards, tenets and 'like mindedness' !!!

So they've made it their mission this week to disrupt the twitter feed from Minneapolis with snarky comments, disparaging speakers, and outright insults. All because the Fellowship insists on following 2,000 years of biblical teachings, and not conforming to the world of today.

Words like ugliness, hate, oppression and schism are bandied about. Heck, they don't even like the way we tweet. There's one person who thinks that we need to be trained to use twitter, this person tweeted through another hashtag: "Quick! I need a guide to Twitter etiquette! A church conference has brought a new crew to Twitter, but they don't how to interact." Another comment was "I pray that pastors and elders behave better with their congregants and colleagues in person than they do with strangers on Twitter." and "It's full of trolls! Trolls!" I wonder if they know where that term came from, probably has no idea what USENET is.

Then there was the one that it seems was reTweeted all over the PCUSA hashtag: "Is anyone surprised that #mn2011 is scheduled during #pcusa ordination exams? Including the voices of future leaders must not be a priority." Of course, the answer to that was because the original conference was for a small group of currently called Pastors. Well, the circumstances changed, as did the size of the group.

Well, many (including yours truly) really don't use Twitter on a daily or even monthly basis. Heck, if you think you can say something really important in 140 characters, then you really don't have much to say.

Most of us on there are trying to follow what's going on, many of us could not attend the conference, but are interested in the proposals that are being brought forth. Yet we are subjected to the intolerance, bigotry and hatred of those who claim that we are the ones who are intolerant, haters and bigotted.

And so it goes ...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Well .. duh !!!!

The Presbyterian Outlook today posted an article about the Mexican Presbyterian Church's (INPM) voting to end its partnership with the PC(USA) after 139 years. It seems that, along with evangelical Presbyterian in the PC(USA), the INPM is upset with the recent change to the ordination standards in the Book of Order.

The Outlook reported
"The PC(USA) representatives asked their Mexican partners to agree to a time of discernment, in part to see how they could continue to work together in mission despite differing views over issues such as ordaining gays and lesbians, or women’s ordination."

“Despite the significant theological differences that 10-A puts between our churches, the mission context of increasing violence on our borders, the precarious situation of the poor in both nations, and our own church's need for the INPM's help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration,” Farrell (Editor's Note: - Hunter Farrell, director of PC(USA)World Mission) wrote after that meeting. “The truth is we need each other now more than ever.”

OK ... there are some differences over women's ordination, not a major issue as many orthodox, Reformed bodies share these differences. Some ordain women as TEs & REs, and others don't. However, most do agree that there is a tension between some passages in Scripture that that can support or deny women's ordination.

I don't call that a significant theological difference, if it really was significant, the INPM would have probably broke it off long ago.

No, the significant theological difference was the changes brought about by amendment 10A. It is a significant change in the covenant relationship between the denominations that the INPM could not ignore.

Yet the director of World Missions for the PC(USA) thinks that the social justice aspects of the relationship should keep us working as partners. In the above quote he says
... (PCUSA's) ... need for the INPM's help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration

The problem as I believe the INPM saw it was which Gospel?? The one the INPM believes is true where we're told to be in the world, not of the world, the one where God labels sin as sin; or the one now being espoused by the PC(USA) wherein the church conforms to the world and sin is what we say it is.

Many of our partners around the world are re-evaluating their relationship with the PC(USA) because of 10A, and this comes as a surprise to many in Louisville? Didn't the prophetic testimony of Archpriest Siarhei Hardun at the 2010 GA give anyone on the left pause?

And so it goes ....

Update: after reading some information about Hunter both online, and elsewhere, my kneejerk reaction was rather harsh. Going back to the Outlook article, I realize that the talk about differences that included women's ordination as one of the issues was not a direct quote from Hunter Farrell, and I do apologize for that mistake.

That said, whomever made that remark wasn't thinking.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Severed Dreams

OK ... the title looks interesting, and it does have some background behind it. It is the title of a Babylon 5 episode where the commander of the Babylon 5 station declares its independence from Earthgov. Earthgov, directed by its power hungry president, has brutally suppressed any dissent from what the president, and his allies (both on Earth and in space) have decided. Capt. John Sheridan, commander of Babylon 5 has had enough, and declares B5 independent of Earthgov.

There are parallels within the PC(USA). Evangelicals are being repressed from speaking of Scriptural truth by those who label such beliefs as fundamentalist, bigoted and homophobic. The liberals, using the rallying cry of 'justice', year after year introduced proposed changes to the Book of Order in order to allow a practice what Scriptures call sin, to be allowable for ruling and teaching elders. All the while, slowly getting those who agree with them into positions on local presbytery committees, on synods and at GA.

The consistent pressure from those within, and from those outside the denomination to view sexual sin as natural, or given by God wore down many evangelicals to the point where they either withdrew in place, or left for a more Scriptural denomination. Those who were left proclaiming the truth of the Gospel were shouted down as old fashioned, bigots, or worse.

Finally, the passing of amendment 10A, and the uncertainty of nFOG has finally severed the dreams of many evangelicals for a Spiritual revival in the PC(USA). Groups on the left are already calling for a change in the Book of Order to call marriage a union of 'two persons' rather than one of a 'man and a woman'.

Its time to declare independence from the PC(USA). I hope many know of the Fellowship gathering occurring in Minneapolis on August 25th and 26th. It started as a gathering to try to do 'church' outside of the way it was being done. There was much distrust in the denomination at the beginning of the year, and this group decided to sit and figure a way evangelicals could work together outside of the denominational structures.

Since the votes on 10A and nFOG, it has turned into a gathering of evangelical Presbyterians looking for guidance in this new reality, and a way to declare their independence from the PC(USA); whether staying within the denomination, or moving outside of it.

There are over 2,000 people signed up. To give you an idea of the numbers that are attending, only 1,900 people were signed up for the biggest PC(USA) event this year, the Big Tent in Indianapolis. (H/T to the GAJunkie who has a few ideas about the gathering on his blog).

The total number attending, however, sounds like a drop in the bucket in a denomination of 2,016,091 members; but there are 800 churches being represented in a denomination of 10,560 congregations. That's close to 8% of congregations in the PC(USA). You can assume that perhaps another 2 or 3 hundred other churches couldn't send a representative, so lets assume that 1 in 10 PC(USA) churches are in support of the Minneapolis event.

That number of churches can make a definite change to the PC(USA). I'm praying that those who attend continuously ask the Spirit to guide them; that they deal with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ; that they can individually disagree on the specifics of the way forward, but all agree on the need to move forward.

I pray that our severed dreams are made whole.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gobsmacked ... !!

World English Dictionary
gobsmacked (ˈɡɒbˌsmækt)
— adj slang ( Brit ) astounded; astonished

My initial reaction to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission decisions this week not to make any decisions, was that of stunned silence. Having been to Scotland a few times, and a frequent viewer of BBC America, the British slang word gobsmacked came to mind. The term quite says it all as I've been pondering what to say, although I really can't get a fully themed thought together on the 'not decision'.

Some on the liberal side says that making a decision is not a good idea:
"If the highest court, in these rulings, is anticipating choosing a right and wrong between interpretations, it seems to me that we are in terrible trouble. The very fact that both these decisions prompted multiple jurors to weigh in with varied explanations of concurrence and dissent indicate that we have within the PCUSA different interpretations and points of view. We are not of one mind on this. It simply is the nature of the church to be of one mind only in Christ Jesus. Beyond our faith in Christ our many minds on many things enrich our lives together." -- Janet Edwards, More Light Presbyterians

My first thought at reading that is, outside of the Scriptures, how can one learn to be of one mind with Christ. Christ who is the great I AM. The second Person of the Trinity, the Three in One. The One who is, the One who was, and the One who will be.

The One who has consistently said that sin is sin, in both Old and New Testaments. This is affirmed in the Hebrew, in the Greek, and in the English translations.

To be of one mind with Christ is not to be of many minds on many things. What exactly does that phrase mean anyway? For over 2,000 years the Church Universal has understood what the practice of sin is, its only in our enlightened 20th and 21st centuries that we call the practice of sin not sin. Yet, I'm to take this new enlightenment as a good thing, since it does not espouse one point of view.

As I have said, I'm gobsmacked. My only conclusion is that the GAPJC didn't want to offend anybody. Apparently, the only One offended will have the final say.

And so it goes ......