Monday, October 29, 2007

Scripture or Schism?

A recent pastoral letter was sent from the Holy that assured presbyteries that they should act to those who find themselves under the teaching of "schismatics" like those right-wing woman-hatin' NWACs. As always, there's so much to learn about the faithfulness of our demonimation (just don't lay the white-wash on too thick or the fragile exterior might crumble).

The Office of Theology and Worship (whom I deeply respect and, in fact, interned for) was asked to write a response to the charge of apostasy. It reiterated Calvin's concern over the major heads of doctrine being agreed upon ("God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God’s mercy; and the like"). While it didn't expand on those, it is sufficient to note that Presbyterian ministers can routinely deny even the doctrines mentioned and still maintain their credentials / posts as teaching elders. More helpful is how they flesh out a basis for deductive reasoning which leads one to say, "you should leave this particular church / institution" on pages 6ƒ.

On pages 890-891 of his A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Robert Reymond gives a specific line of reasoning to deduce a singular reason for separation: "separation from one's church or denomination is appropriate if it will not discipline heretics." This conclusion is reached by the following line of reasoning:
  1. Elders are charged to guard the church by guarding the truth
  2. Apostates and heretics ought to leave the church
  3. Unrepentent heretics who do not leave the church should be disciplined
  4. Churches that will not discipline heretics become apostate
And the 4th point is painfully problematic in the PCUSA.

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