Many things are being said about the PC(USA) that are simply not true.
Jack Haberer, editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, has said, “If the kinds of things that are said about us, with not having the authority of scripture, and said about Jesus Christ not being unique, if those were the case I’d be gone already.”
I would be gone too.
But these things that are being said are not true for me, and they are not true for the PC(USA). Even those whom Trinity’s leadership would point to as having “drifted,” hold firm to the authority of scripture and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Reverend Amy Loving is a PC(USA) pastor in New York who has responded to such accusations made by The Layman and The Presbyterian Lay Committee in a blog post titled, “A Response To Those Who Think They Know Me.” Contrary to the caricature described in The Layman, and being presented to us at Trinity, Amy writes,
“This is not the first time that lines have been drawn or judgments made about the suspected non-Christianity of those Presbyterians who disagree with the Presbyterian Lay Committee, and I’m sadly convinced that it will not be the last. But I do not appreciate people accusing me and others of not being faithful Christians simply because we do not talk about God in the same way or take stands on the same theological issues in the same ways.”
Amy then goes on to clearly articulate her firm commitment to the authority of scripture and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Still, the misunderstanding persists that there are large ranks in the denomination denying the Lordship of Christ, a misunderstanding that is perpetuated by careless and misleading statements. The fallacy of two such statements is demonstrated below.
Misleading Statement – The call for the Church to “present the claims of Jesus Christ, leading persons to repentance and acceptance of him as Lord and Savior” was removed from the PC(USA) Book of Order
In a panel discussion held earlier this year at Trinity for members of Los Ranchos Presbytery, Dana Allin, ECO Presbyterian synod executive, made a comment that two years ago the PC(USA) General Assembly removed the call from the Book of Order for the Church to “present the claims of Jesus Christ, leading persons to repentance and acceptance of him as Lord and Savior.”
Jack Haberer, editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, responded to Dana’s comment saying he could not speak to that specific reference but lots of things were removed when we went to the shorter form of the the Book of Order simply because they are redundancies.
And then Laird Stuart, retired PC(USA) pastor and interim president at San Francisco Theological Seminary, made a very helpful comment saying, “it is so helpful, instead of simply sighting what happened, to be willing to ask, why did it happen?”
You can watch this dialogue below
It could be that redundancies were removed from the previous Book of Order as Jack suggests, but our current Book of Order 2013-2015 still clearly states in F-1.0302d,
“The Church seeks to present the claims of Jesus Christ, leading persons to repentance, acceptance of Christ alone as Savior and Lord, and new life as his disciples.”
The exact call to the Church Dana said was removed from the Book of Order a couple of years ago is actually still there.
Misleading Statement – The PC(USA) Book of Order no longer states Jesus is the only Lord and Savior
Comments about the erosion of the centrality of Jesus in the PC(USA) are being made at Trinity too. Trinity members were told during our annual congregational meeting this November that the PC(USA) Book of Order no longer claims Jesus Christ is the only Savior. My own quick check of the Book of Order suggests this may be true, but, in the very same reference cited above, the Book of Order does say the Church is called to lead persons to the acceptance of Christ alone as Savior and Lord.
Clearly our Book of Order still affirms Jesus Christ alone (only) as Savior and Lord.
I am deeply concerned misleading statements like these are what led Trinity’s Strategic Futures Task Force to recommend dismissal from the PC(USA) to the session.
Trinity, let’s stay PC(USA)