Saturday, January 23, 2010

Remembering Egypt

I've been interacting with my dear friend and sister in Christ, Viola Larson, at her blog. She broke the heart-wrenching news that heresiarch John Shuck has been named interim campus minister at ETSU's Presbyterian Student Fellowship (PSF).

It breaks my heart with the irony. PSF was an outgrowth of the college ministry that First Presbyterian Church undertook to college students way back when my mom was on campus (and it was called ETSC)! When I went to ETSU, I didn't even know that my parents had been Presbyterians! (Dad wanted to go to the Methodist church of his boyhood, and that's what was happening by the time I came on the scene.)

Later, it was at PSF that my sense of Christian community had been restored. (After wandering in the wilderness, I was trying to have a go at "lone ranger" self-styled Christianity - which was a mess!) There, I experienced a call to gospel ministry. There, I participated in faith-community leadership. There, I met my wife and made friends. There, I learned and taught the faith found in the Scriptures and articulated in the Creeds and Catechisms and Confessions of the Reformed Churches.

The irony comes because it was my presbytery's impotence (juridically and personally with the elders) to act when faced with someone who is undeniably a heretic in the ministerial office that drove me out of the PCUSA. At that moment, I recognized that my presbytery was not a true local expression of the Christian Church - even if there were true individual churches within it. (Ordination is granted by the presbytery, and ministers are members of the presbytery - not an individual church.) That left me with two options: moving to another presbytery for relief of conscience, or leaving the PCUSA for a true Church. I opted for the latter, as there are virtually no presbyteries that take an interest in doctrinal rigor (even the so-called conservative ones, who year after year feign ignorance or disinterest in what happens around them).

I'm glad to be out of Egypt, though her fleshpots are still remembered. I'm also glad that there are still people like Viola, Toby, Dave, and many others who soldier on in enemy territory. God speed to them. We are united by something far deeper than a denomination or distinctive. We share the faith once delivered in the Scriptures and expressed in the catholic creeds and definitions.

And that makes all the difference in this world, and the next.

1 comment:

Viola Larson said...

Chris,
I never realized that what I was posting was reaching so deeply into your past. Thanks for all the words and work of standing for the faith at my blog. Christ is truly with you.