Sunday, July 23, 2006

Natural Backlash?

Concerning the recent actions of the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, I am afraid that only a relative few will become hot and bothered unless the standards actually change. Presbyterians have learned how to distance themselves from the national denomination--Angela Davis, Re-imagining, the Layman-declared "apostate" General Assembly, Israeli divestment, etc. Our congregations have stuck with the denomination through all of this. A confusing and murky Authoritative Interpretation which keeps the standards in place is unlikely tomotivate us to clean house.

Take a cue from our friends in the Episcopal Church. Conservatives have been ticked with the direction of the church for a while. The American hierarchy have been quietly electing priests and even bishops who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ or are involved in unrepentant sin. The folks in the pews complained but were satisfied that their congregation was different. When the denomination ordains an openly practicing unrepentant adulterer as a bishop, essentially redefining sin, the folks in the pews couldn't ignore it. An inevitable split is on the way.

It has been my experience that the folks in our pews can't stand defiance, but they can tolerate hypocrisy. Burn a little incense at G-6.0106b but then live your life any way you want. For this reason the PUP Task Force's AI was perfect. It is hypocrisy, plain and simple.

I raise these issues because I don't think that there is a natural backlash. Yes, plenty of us are mad, and we can fill a bunch of auditoriums easily. However, we can't just wave the flag and expect the church to rally. As pastors, we have a difficult job of teaching and leading. The church is in need of conversion, repentance, and discipleship. I don't expect the hard work to end until my Savior returns.

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