Friday, June 27, 2008

Presbyterian Predicaments

Here's another one from the vaults, when I thought that I would be allowed to live out my calling in the PCUSA. Orignially written in August of 2007.
Jesus asked us to remember Lot's wife. We also remember Lot. Abraham and Lot were family. Lot was the younger, more cosmopolitan of the two. When the squabbles between the household of Lot and household of Abram stood a chance of damaging their sense of family, they separated. Whatever bad blood was there, they let it go. The more spiritually mature man let the younger one seek his life among the hipsters of the day, who had wealth and prestige (Sodom had a king!). Abram knew that it didn't matter where he was sat on earth - so long as he knew where he stood with God.

We've come to a time where gracious separation (in the PCUSA) may be the only peaceful way out. It will require the mature - those who claim to trust completely in God's provision - to risk being set out to the un-lush plains. We'll have to choose whether or not we really believe it when we say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our treasure and the one thing we cannot do without.

I say this knowing that some have been fighting for a long time to be good stewards of the funds faithful Presbyterians have given over the years. I honor that work. I had planned as a minister to put at least some of my hope for financial security in the endowments given. But if it costs me the gospel - or I waste my life fighting with people that I should recognize as family (even if they are distant relations, and questionable in their covenant keeping) - then I will have been unfaithful to my calling to be a steward of the mysteries of God.

I count as friends several executives in the Foundation, and they are dashingly good at what they do. But I'm a steward of the mysteries, called to build the church as the pillar and ground of the truth. Anything less is a diminishing of my calling.


Jim Jordan said...

I guess you can only live it your calling in the PCUSA if you're gay. :-) After this GA I think it will be clear that what is left will be a New Age Liberal denomination. Or to paraphrase Lot's story, moving ever a bit closer to Sodom. I'm planning to move to a non-PCUSA church in the next few weeks. We're all better off that way.

Chris said...

I hated leaving the PCUSA. I have so many friends in it, and I really felt embraced by them (at least until I entered the ministerial ordination process). But when I saw that the church was impervious to Reform and enforcement of its own standards, and would demonize anyone who was serious about that (on both sides of the issues), I knew I'd never have a platform for advancing peace and unity.

The worst part is that there are so many people who - while not institutional loyalists - are extremely loyal to their local congregation (a strength). That strength is turned into a weakness by judicatory judo and the pervasive fear (pensions, buildings, programs, brand name) that comes as a result of preaching an ever-diminishing God.

Tim said...

Chris, I'm a former PCUSAer as well. I was counseled (by a PCUSA pastor, no less) to "get out now" when I first entered seminary. I've been happy in the ARP ever since.

I finally got around to replying to your comment about John Shuck over at my blog. He makes much about the Heidelberg Catechism and all at the GA. Colorful character! (I'm trying to be nice.)

Chris said...


Can't wait to meet you & Ben on Saturday! I was strongly urged by my field ed pastor (who's high up in the renewal movement) to seek other pastures, as well. I was too stubborn or - let's face it - IDOLATROUS to say "no."

God's been teaching me a lot. When he's done, he just might have a useful instrument in his hand...despite my having gone to seminary.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Had a great time by the way with you two guys on Saturday. Tell Avery to keep an eye out for the aliens and their crop circles...