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Jun 20, 2006

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Derek Simmons

Michael:
Would that there had been dissent; perhaps the descent into the chaos might have been avoided. I have been subjecting myself for the past hour to watching the proceedings on streaming video and knew it was all over when the GA voted down the motion to refer. May God shed His Common Grace on the "Apostates"--those who ride this ship to the bottom. I have a life-saver in the renunciation of jurisdiction.[G-10.0302 b(4)]
Derek Simmons

Michael Kruse

I went back and modified my header just in case my post was taken as a typo instead of a word play. The dissent I refer to is the success of the minority to accomplish their aim by fostering chaos what they could not achieve by sound process.

Quotidian Grace

What now? I'm just sick.

Michael Kruse

I think what should be clear now is the depth of dysfunction within the denomination that it can not establish and maintain boundaries. Rather than seeing boundaries as liberating tools that give us a healthy environment where minsitry can flourish, boundaries are viewed as evil limiters of ministry. I am dissappointed but not suprised by the outcome. What now indeed? I think that is question each of us needs to wrestle with.

Jon Thomasson

What to do? How long would you stay with your wife if she started sleeping with other men, then did it in front of the children, then wanted to take the children on trips with her and her boyfriends? You might justifiably believe that you were unequally yoked. In the same way, biblical Christians are unequally yoked with the apostate in the PC(USA). Time to follow Jesus and not a denominational structure that is in full-fledged rot. What the biblical believers need now is action from their pastors and sessions...not more talk and waiting. The longer the wait, the more the children (the flock) will be corrupted by the horrible influence of the ungodly.

Some (http://churchforstarvingartists.blogspot.com/) say that I sound "bitter" (and also that you sound "sad and frustrated"). I guess I don't mind condescension. What I do mind is those of us who eschew action in favor of peace where the gospel is at stake. We all need to care for the true church under our care. How can we stand before the Lord on that Day and say we were too scared and too cautious to do what was right?

It is time for the biblical churches to unhitch their cars from the PC(USA)'s misguided trainride to hell. If they don't, then many onboard will be pulled along to the final destination.

John Stuart

Heaven help us when we really have got something to whine about. Christians in India and China are dying for their faith, and we're upset in our cosy denominational world because we didn't win the debate!

Maybe we should make a two year mission trip compulsory for everyone who wants to join the church, just like the Mormons. Then we would perhaps see what's really real out there in the world.

Michael Kruse

Jon, I wouldn't get to worked up about this. I've read the end of the book and God accomplishes his purpose with or without the PCUSA. Each of us needs to determine where God has called us. It is certainly okay to feel sad, frustrated and angry but "don't give in to the dark side." *grin*

Michael Kruse

John S, "thank you" for your trivialization of the emotions many dedicated Presbyterians are feeling tonight.

Neil

Just don't tell me you're surprised by this outcome!

Jon Thomasson

Michael,
Your comments about the end of the story are right on. Jesus wins! And I'm not giving into the "dark side." (smile)

I left the PC(USA) late last year (after twenty years as a Presbyterian) when Hollywood Presbyterian Church was taken over by a bunch of non-believing mucky-mucks from the Presbytery of the Pacific. Now we're in a geat new non-denominational church that is growing every week (www.churchforthenations.org). God be praised!

I just saw too many Presbyterians at Hollywood Pres compromise their faith and stay at that massive edifice even when non-Christians were running it...and running it into a complacent unbiblical hole in the ground. Many in the congregation were so confused and discouraged by it all that they just stopped going to any church. That bothers me the most. We need to protect the flock.

David Walters

There is a way out of this situation. If one lonely commissioner can be found who is in remorse for having voted yes on the PUP Report, that person could wait to the end of business on the last day and make a motion to reconsider. At that point many of those who had voted yes will left to catch a plane, etc. Certainly, the ML, TAMFS crowd will not be hanging to organize to defeat a motion to reconsider. Think about. Go find a remorseful commissioner. It only takes one.
This tactic was actually about fifteen or so years ago.

Michael Kruse

Neil, I am not surprised. Just very disappointed. You don't fully experience the emotional impact of such decisions until the event actually happens. You know me. I am cheering for Team USA in the World Cup. How much more of an optimist can you be? *grin*

Michael Kruse

Good for you Jon. But my experience tells me "the dark side" may still be lurking. There is a great temptation to do things in the Church in an attempt to be contra-something-else in the Church. We allow ourselves to become defined by what we are opposed to or angry about rather than the pursuit of God's Kingdom. It is a very seductive temptation.

I don't mean to lecture. Just sharing some hard learned lessons.

Michael Kruse

David I suppose anything could happen but I think the body has expressed its will and if anything changes it should be the whole body. Sneaking something in at the last minute seems ... well...sneaky.

apostleJohn

At last night's press conference, we were told over and over "Our standards have not changed." More than that, when asked if this opened the door to ordaining gays, Kirkpatrick said "no." When asked if there was now a local option, he and the moderator said "no."

Michael Kruse

Our standards haven't changed. We have just redefined "standard" as something that applies only if a governing body thinks it is essential. We haven't opened the door to ordaining gays. We have have opened the door to ordaining persons who have scrupples against the G-1.0106B. We haven't granted local option. We have just granted each presbytery the right to determine what "essential tenents" means and thereby determine locally what is essential in the consitution. George Orwell would be impressed.

Jon

"We are to comply with optional standards discerned from non-existent essential tenets."
That pretty much sums up the situation as it stands now.

The PCUSA as an institution will continue for quite awhile. On the other hand, the PCUSA as a church is continuing her steady march to conform herself to this world. The PCUSA is basically following the Episcopal Church USA; it is just 10-15 years behind.

DaveRev789

Thanks, Michael, for your lucid analysis of GA, and of issues before GAC during your service on that body. I believe it was Charles Finney who once commented, "There is a jubilee in hell everytime the General Assembly meets". One wonders if there certainly may be such jubilee today! As a Pastor in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, I have a keen interest in the outcome of Overture 67 (non-geographic presbyteries and synods). Does anyone know the status of that overture?

Dan Anderson-Little

Mike,
Let me add to this important conversation a voice that is encouraged by this action of the General Assembly: what I find so compelling about this action is that it makes explicit what we have always known and practiced--that local governing bodies (sessions and presbyteries) are the ones who must discern whether a candidate for office meets the requirements for office. We have historically been reluctant to name "essentials" because we know we must always balance standards with the movement of the Holy Spirit which, in the case of ordination, we believe is expressed through the discernment of governing bodies. The PUP report (now AI) reasserts that responsbility and raises the level at which such governing bodies must now operate.

I have been concerned that many opponents of PUP have suggested that now anything goes because any candidate can now declare a scruple about anything. While it is true that a candidate can declare a scruple about anything, it doesn't mean the governing body has to accept the scruple. I can imagine many "scruples" that I wouldn't accept and vote for--although as a member of a governing body, I do have the responsibility to take each person's scruples seriously.

I am also concerned about some of the language that is being used even on your blog--that this decision is a division between the faithful and the apostate. I am both in support of the PUP report and I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I take the Bible as seriously as I know how and at the same know that now "I know only in part." I deeply respect those who opposed the report and do not imagine that they are any less (or more) faithful than I, but that we see things and interpret things differently. And my heart grieves that we have not yet found a way to move past our current conflict--God knows most of the world doesn't care a whit about our arguments and it sure takes up a lot of our time and energy!

I suppose that this action could cause us descend into further chaos, but I am not convinced that it will--in fact, I suspect that the opposite may be true. This will cause sessions and presbyteries to seriously wrestle with the question of what does it mean to be called to office? And in that context, what does the Lord require of us? And how do we know?

It is my prayer that as we move forward we do so with open hearts, minds, and ears--that we listen to each other and know that it is not our standards or polity that binds us together but the saving love of Jesus Christ.

Michael Kruse

Institutions rarely blow up or die quickly. Over the coming weeks and months some will say "See. No big deal. Nothing happened." I liken this to the kid who smokes five packs of cigarettes one day and says "See. I didn't get cancer. No big deal." And then goes on smoking them until the cumulative effects take him to an early grave.

You don’t bring health to a conflicted divided body by blurring boundaries. You do it by clarifying them, however painful that may be.

Michael Kruse

Hi Dan. Long time, no see.

I appreciate your view and I too think it VERY important that we be very careful making statements about the spiritual state of those who differ from us.

I agree with you that decisions about a whether candidates meet the MWS requirements for office is to be determined by presbyteries. Individual cases may require nuanced judgment about circumstances that place a candidate at the margins of constitutional boundaries. We already do this and I fully affirm that this is how it should be done.

I read the decision of the PUP report to change the rules of the game. The question now moves to asking if a requirement applies to a candidate. Instead of the candidate be examined the requirement itself becomes the focus of examination. This be slightly overstated but I don't think by much.

Mission can only be effective with clear boundaries. The Constitution is there to provide those boundaries. I am fully aware that not every scruple will be approved but nevertheless we are about to have 173 sets of essential standards for MWS and 11,000 for elders and deacons.

I too want us to be bound together in Jesus Christ (which we are whether we want to be or not) but "saving love" has to have content. The way we have chosen to agree on the content is through discernment by the body about common mission and boundaries. The standards are not limitations to the saving love of Jesus Christ but necessary boundaries that create wide open spaces for good things to run wild.

I truly hope I am way off base but everything in me tells me I am not.

Michael Kruse

Thanks for your affirmation Dave. A friend of mine and I once speculated that the theme verse for GAs should be Acts 19:32:

“The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” (NIV)

As to the geographic presbyteries, I know nothing.

Derek Simmons

Michael:

It's all of a piece. When we moved from "either/or" to "both/and" thinking, then we went from "either His Way or my way" to "both heresy and apostasy." Praise God it is as you said: we know the end of His Story.

Derek Simmons

Denis Hancock

As to the geographic presbyteries, I know nothing.

This seems to be item 5-23, if you are tracking it on Les, and the committee recommended disapproval by a vote of 46-0-1 and was scheduled for this morning's plenary meeting.

This link should take you to the tracking page:

http://les-pcusa.org/Item.aspx?IID=57&

John Stuart

I wrote this in my blog, way back in the beginning of May

Schism or Specialization?

Acts 5: 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."


There's a lot of talk right now about division and schism in the church. Mainline Protestant churches are declining by about 2% each year. Within a couple of generations, and certainly by the end of this century, the Church as we know it today, will be radically different from what we are currently experiencing. Some people are anxious about the future of our faith, whereas others don't want to see the changes coming. They are busying themselves into a frenzy of denial, which is equivalent to straightening up deck chairs on board the Titanic. The ship is sinking, but whilst we're afloat, we can always sit in the sun.

But our times are still in God's hands, and so, therefore, are all our churches. His Spirit has never left the earth and throughout the centuries, the Church has evolved into whatever God wants. Our whole history is full of separations, schisms and divisions, but they don't have to be thought of as negative. A schism could be God's way of getting His Church to specialize in different areas, different cultures, amongst different and diverse people.

One thing is for sure, and we only have to look at Gamaliel's words to recognize it: if these things are from God, then we will not be able to stop it, for we will only be fighting against God. Let's focus on discerning what He wants to do in the world, instead of what we want Him to do for our churches.

Prayer: Lord God, these are troubling times for the Church, but You've seen it all before. We tend to get caught up in our own world, instead of looking at the bigger picture of Your Everlasting Kingdom. Enable us to see the path that You want us to specialize in ministry and mission, so that no matter what division or schism may arise, Your work, Your word, and Your will shall triumph. In Jesus' Name, we pray Amen.

Michael Kruse

"One thing is for sure, and we only have to look at Gamaliel's words to recognize it: if these things are from God, then we will not be able to stop it, for we will only be fighting against God. Let's focus on discerning what He wants to do in the world, instead of what we want Him to do for our churches."

That Gamaliel sure had it together.

Thanks for sharing this John.

DaveRev789

Derek--

Thanks for the "heads up" on Item 05-23 (non-geographic presbyteris & synods). I tracked it down and see that it's now "in the FOG".
It was referred to the FOG Task Force for further review. We can only hope and pray that the unfortunate folks appointed to said Task Force can find their way out!

Here in Twin Cities Area Presbytery, I'm sure there is great rejoicing among the progressive/liberal groups. We appreciate prayers for us--as evangelical ministers and congregations we need to stand together as witnesses to the Truth.

In Christ's Peace & Hope,
David, Pastor,
Presbyterian Church of the Master

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