Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why the PCUSA is in trouble

The problem is theological. Liberals who control the power in much of the demonination, are more concerned with using the power of the demoniations to support political causes than work for evangelism. Actually the difference between a liberal Christian and a Moslem is less than you would think. Both do not see Jesus as divine, Moslems treat Him as a prophet, liberals as a good man who taught some good things like pacifism, love everyone, tolerate everyone (except for those who are intolerant, which is everyone you disagree with), so you can see how the real split is between those of us who take the Bible seriously, and those using the demonination as a tool.

I find it fascinating liberals accuse "conservative, fundamentalist" Christians of perverting the gospel for political purposes, when they have been doing it for decades. Meeting with our demonination's moderator, it was interesting how most of his focus was on political issues, not spiritual. For example:
Opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
Helping illegal immigrants sneak into the U.S.
Opposition to Iraq war. He admitted that probably a majority of members disagreed with the churches position.
So it's not that they are opposed to using the church for politics, just for conservatives using it for political purposes.

The main theological question was how to change the church to meet the needs of the postmodern generation, which he described as doers, not joiners. Not so much a theological perception, but practical.

A good way to understand the situation in the Presbyterian church is that the church buildings are owned by the demonination. If you try to leave, you may have to start over with no resources, or pay a big ransom. In Virginia in 2003, Rivermont Church left, but the presbytery demanded payment of 30% of the churches building's appraised value.

Other churches when they wanted to leave, had their pastors removed. In Findley Ohio, Maumee Presbyery appointed an administrative commission, which changed the locks, and forced the pastors to leave, even though the congregation voted 217 to 19 to leave. The Presbytery now runs a church with only 68 members, (up from less than 40). The old congregation is now over 700, with an ambitious building plan. (According to the local paper in 2004):

Money and power are why the liberal leadership doesn't want churches to leave. We are a colony they have exploited. We pay $24 per member each year, so it is a lot of money. The colonialists have permitted local evangelical churches to go about their work of saving souls, as long as they don't threaten to upset things. So is the smart thing to just keep your head down, and don't get involved? Or does Niemoeller's saying in the 30's apply.
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me."

What would God have us do?

I suspect the message to Laodicea may apply here.

Message to Laodicea

So sure your wealth
will protect you.
You are wretched, pitiful
poor, blind & naked.

Come buy My gold
refined in the fire.
Wear My robe
to cover your nakedness.

Those I love I rebuke
& discipline.
I stand & knock.
Open the door.
(Revelation 3:14-22)
© Presbypoet, July 31, 2005

What will we do?


Anonymous will spotts said...

You sum this up very well.

Personally I think if we were to effectively prevent the use of the church for political causes -- so that the money and presumed numbers wouldn't benefit those causes, we'd go a long way toward solving a number of our problems.

Blogger anybudee said...

You have a Marty Luther dilemma there, Pres. You can either stay and fight for reform or join one of the movements already in progress.

My wife and I planted churches in two different movements, and just recently spent 15 mos helping a plant in yet a another movement. We currently aren't attending. We get together with christian friends and sometimes worship and pray. A couple years back we were involved with a house church, in the house church movement, the one with ties to Nee's Little Flock in China. It was fun and refreshing for awhile, then some of the leaders got weird and we split.

There are nice huge bible-preaching churches here in the Springs, but I just don't have the heart to play the game. Even as an ordained minister with the Vineyard, I just don't feel guilty. We reach out to our neighbors more than we ever did while pastoring and my inner life has never been better. Every day we ask God "What are we DOING?"

Strange huh?

Blogger PresbyPoet said...

Not strange at all. We keep forgetting obedience is what God is after. So our ideas of what is important are warped.

We miss the part of Jesus instructions to Peter. "If you love Me..." That isn't a distant God loves me, so I should love Him, but this incredible knowing, hearing, passionate, mindblowing relationship. Christians shouldn't need drugs, people should figure we are weird just on God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

I've been working on reform. What I need to do is to reach out and truly work with others. God is not mocked. He hasn't left. He does seem to be willing to give us as much rope as we need. There still is an incredible faithful remnant here in the PCUSA, in bondage in Egypt.

The easy path is to just find a "faithful church". I don't think that is the right path. There is so much to like about the structure of the PCUSA. People keep saying denominations are dead. You need to organize, you need to work with others, it isn't easy. It means you have to learn to work with imperfect people that require massive doses of forgiveness.
If we just did what our BOO said.
If we just lived what we say are our book of confessions.
Have you ever read the PCUSA Book of Order and Book of confessions?

If we acted like we really believed in the priesthood of all believers, but hasn't that always been the problem. Talk is cheap. "If you love Me..."

The leaders are always getting weird aren't they. That's the problem of God trying to use defective materials. Cracked and broken. Look who he sends Elijah to. A widow, with only enough flour and oil for one cake, and God expects her to provide for them all.

God always seems to enjoy working with broken pottery. My name for the bible is: "The story of people who heard from God, and said 'You want me to do WHAT." The story continues. Ordinary people doing/living stories even stranger than any written in the Bible.

Anonymous will spotts said...

You have a good perspective on this.

I have discovered there are many in the church working to reform.


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