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RELIGION: Presbyterian Church in danger of extinction

Letter by James H. Seely, Lakebay on April 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm with 45 Comments »
April 30, 2012 1:35 pm

While the Friday front-page article, headlined “Presbytery dismisses 4 churches in gay spat,” was quite informative and accurate, I take exception to the misleading, trivializing and inaccurate headline.

The problem within the Presbyterian Church (USA) centers on the fact that the General Assembly (the governing body) has governed against the will of a vast majority of the Worshiping Body for over 30 years. They are now “winning by attrition.”

In the very near future, issues of redefining marriage and questioning the Christology of Jesus Christ will also come up for a vote. Unless the PC (USA) can be reformed, it will also end up on the ash heap of history.

Leave a comment Comments → 45
  1. By popular vote, the Southern Baptists stood up for slavery, oppression and demonization of a group of people and thereby saved its denomination.

    If you are talking about the popularity of standing up for the demonization of gay people, then your denomination can also be saved by going the popular route instead of the way Christ would actually have us act.

    Christ didn’t ask for a popular vote when He ordered us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

  2. aislander says:

    The mainline churches of all denominations (save the Catholic Church) are in trouble for the very reasons you cite. Churches that demand more from their congregants are growing…

  3. At least the PC (Politically correct) Church USA won’t have to change it’s abbreviation when it goes extinct.

  4. aislander says:

    It amazes me, tuds, that you can always find reasons to condemn democracy (the voting kind, that is, not the equality kind–but that is a different discussion, and one I would LOVE to have sometime)…

  5. aislander, we in the South voted for slavery, voted for denhying integration, voted for denying interrackial couples the right to amrry and all jsutified by the Bible.

    Some things are truths and some things can be voted on. Basic human rights cannot be voted on legitimately and the words and examples of Christ cannot be voted on legitimately. Either you believe in Christ or you don’t. If you say you do and then do things that go totally against His words and examples then you are either a liar or a hypocrite, not a Christian.

  6. All “justified by the Bible”? I think not.

    In any case, race is a different category than sex—just as apples are in a different category than oranges.

    You can’t justify same-sex marriage by reference to racial history any more than you can justify apple pie made from Floria oranges.

  7. velmak, many Christians still use the Bible to justify segregation and the hatred of God for blacks. They were wrong before and they are wrong now, just like anyone who tries to justify any treatment of gays using Christ’s example and words falls totally flat on their face.

    Now, if those Presbyterian Churches who broke away would acknowledge that they are not Christian, but Old Testament God of Vengeance Paulist churches, then I’d cut them some slack. They could try stoning divorcees, too, as necessary according to the requirements of the Bible, OT version.

  8. Tuddo, I dispute your assertion that “many Christians still use the Bible to justify segregation and the hatred of God for blacks.” I know of no such “Christians” and certainly of no such justification in the bible.

    You assert that the churches that resigned from PCUSA are not Christian. That, my friend is a most arrogant statement. Visit Chapel Hill Pres in Gig Harbor and get back to me. I think you may want to recant.

  9. vemak, explore the South, It is full of such churches. The KKK is a Christian organization that uses the Bible to support what it believes.
    Go back to Texas with me and I will introduce you to over 100 of my relatives at a family reunion. You could have a lovely time exploring their belief in the Bible’s requirement to separate the races.

    If you want to read a series of books that explore this (up to 1998) showing racism still rampant in the views of many Christians, Price’s Race, Religion and Racism, in 3 volumes is very good. Vol. 2: Perverting the Gospel to Subjugate a People gets to the heart of the matter, using the KJV’s misguided translations to give a blessing to slavery, separation of the races and other issues.

    The KJV does the same with its passages on homosexuality, omitting by design that the OT as well as Paul was concerned about sex practices in pagan temples that had crept into Christian worship. Placing idolatry and worship of other Gods before Jehovah was the real target of those passages most used to denounce gays.

    To me, a church can’t believe in the words and example of Christ if they use being gay to keep someone from being a preacher. They sound Paulist to me. Paulists raise the words of Paul over the words of Christ, and Old Testament religions boost the OT over the words of Christ.

    If Chapel Hill Pres allows gays, blacks all people to be ministers and leaders, allows women to hold all offices of the church, blesses gay marriages, then I may recant. Otherwise, no thanks, their Paulist, not Christian.

  10. averageJoseph says:

    Save us the trouble Tuddo… provide an accurate link to a church (other than the muslim ones) that resemble what you claim.

  11. I tend to agree with tuddo, in principle. churches can call themselves Christian but that doesn’t mean they are. I am almost embarrassed to call myself Christian because of the new fangled mega churches and their bastardization of the Gospels, for example. What they preach ain’t Christianity to me. It is the continuation of the meteoric rise of American Fundamentalism and any way one slices or spells it, it adds up to S – C – A – R – Y.

    Just like I say to the ELCA churches who left over gay ordination, don’t let the door hit you on the way out to those leaving the Presbyterian Church. God Bless ya, but go your own way.

  12. took14theteam says:

    I think Tuddo is the companion resident racist with short bread. Dude get real. Stop living in the past. Wait, that is what happens with Alzheimer’s. You live in the past and forget the presence. From what I read of Tuddo’s comments, that fits the bill.

  13. took14theteam says:

    A new shortbread Mr Tate?

  14. RLangdon says:

    “the Christology of Jesus Christ”

    INTERESTING WORD – Christology!

    If one limits one’s religious views to those covered under the Christology of Jesus Christ, then one can and must ignore the rest of The Bible that does not specifically relate to Jesus. Thusly, no Bible verse condemning gays can be found in The Bible’s related Christology texts.

    Christology – noun
    the branch of Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ.

    If that were the case, the Presbytery could NOT have logically found any fault with gay marriage and consequently not ousted 4 of its churches on those grounds.

  15. Nobody was “ousted.” There’s a lot of faulty presumptions being made here. Perhaps people should get educated about what’s been going on in this denomination before speaking out. A strange concept, I know, but worthy of consideration.

    tuddo, you speak as if Christ condoned everything. Where do you get such an absurd notion? If he did not speak directly to the issue of homosexual conduct, and notice I’m not talking about one’s desires, innate or otherwise but about one’s conduct… it’s probably because it was assumed by everyone at that time that a Jewish rabbi would condemn a man lying with another man And again, for what seems like the thousandth time, the treatment of blacks by SOME Christians and non-Christians was reprehensible, but there is not a legitimate parallel here no matter how hard you attempt to create one.

  16. aislander says:

    The KKK is hardly a “Christian organization” with its wizards and dragons, which are certainly not found in Christian terminology. The only Christian imagery is the cross, which is scarcely treated respectfully…

  17. Here’s a question for those of you who think we should model our behavior after Christ. When he saved the life of the adultress, what did he say to her in parting? He did not say, “Go and carry on as usual,” but “Go and sin no more.” He taught us to extend grace and love which we most certainly should do and can do WITHOUT blessing or condoning every choice an individual makes.

  18. bobcat1a says:

    Well sozo, congrats on turning Christ into the original slave to PC: “it was assumed by everyone at that time that a Jewish rabbi would condemn a man lying with another man.” Jesus behaved the way the pharisees expected????
    And all this time I have read the gospels as describing a man who didn’t mind offending contemporary belief in aid of spreading love.

  19. RLangdon says:

    Well sozo, you are not actually correct when you say nobody was “outed” by the Presbytery.

    drive out or expel (someone) from a position or place : he ousted a long-term incumbent by only 500 votes.

    Perhaps the 4 churches were “ousted” at their own request, but they were ousted nonetheless, and that’s a fact.

  20. OK, I enjoyed my little pretend rant and the predictable reactions (except one -racist? – for pointing out there are still racists who call themselves Christian? – I’ll never understand that one, but, whatever).

    What I really believe is much duller. Churches are man-made entities (no matter what the Pope says) and suffer the imperfections of all humans. They will decay and die, but the message that Christ brought will survive. Part of that message was to rebel from those things that cause you to do wrong to others, look at all people as your brothers and sisters and try to become more perfect every day by following a righteous path.

    However you follow Christ, if you believe you are a Christian, who am I to question that. Only God can judge.

  21. Frankenchrist says:

    Religion is myth and superstition; there is no invisible superhero living in the sky, no life after death, and the universe is indifferent to you and me. Religion exists to allay the natural fear of death and to provide psychological succor to those who worry about that which they cannot change.

    However, all civilizations have their myths and superstitions and ours is no different. Numerous other religions existed long before Christianity and others will exist long after Christianity is extinct. Religion evolves on concert with its associated culture. Most accept that fact; reactionaries attempt to stem the change, which always ends in failure.

  22. “However you follow Christ, if you believe you are a Christian, who am I to question that. Only God can judge.”

    On this we absolutely agree, tuddo. And I will add that I know I may be wrong about how I understand certain things at this moment in time. We are all, I would hope, willing to have God enlighten and change us as we go.

    I’m afraid you misunderstood what I said btw bobcat. Jesus most assuredly confronted the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, but he grew up a faithful Jew whose family appeared to be faithful to Jewish teachings. He read from scripture in the synagogue, etc. It is NOT unreasonable to presume he found same sex unions wrong in the same way he saw adultery as wrong. He extended grace to to the adultress and extends grace to each of us in our brokenness BUT he admonishes us to “sin no more.”

  23. “Paulists raise the words of Paul over the words of Christ, and Old Testament religions boost the OT over the words of Christ.”

    Tuddo, do you really believe that what Jesus said exhausts the universe of moral discourse? If so, all ethics curricula are superfluous. I don’t think he expressed an opinion on legalizing marijuana. Can you infer what he would have said about that from the Sermon on the Mount? I suggest that God gave us brains to think with rather than maxims fitting every conceivable circumstance. I think same-sex marriage is a perversion of the word “marriage.” If you approve of it, then find your own word. The one you prefer has been taken for millenia.

  24. FC. I assume you know there is no life after death, because you died and lived to tell about it. Your faith that there is nothing beyond what you can see and know is truly remarkable–a credit to any religion, past present or future.

  25. Aislander – ‘kkk not chrisitan’ They consider themselves to be Christian.

    Sozo – the bible says, but not all follow.

    Frank – what people believe to be true is often more powerful than what is actually true.

    Some say you have to adhere to both.

    ‘life after death’ but not here and not now.

  26. velmak, no I like the real, standard word “marriage”. No need to invent another word. It includes all the elements that is needed for gay marriage. We’ve been changing the definition for millenia, no time to stop tweaking it now.

    Now, if you would like a separate religious definition of marriage that fits your brand of Christianity, I suggest you come up with another word. I don’t know what denomination you are, but in some churches, it would be a man-gets-to-rule-over-woman union. Perhaps those churches would like “Mandomony” for the word.

    Some denominations it would be men-and-women-are-equal marriage (equaliage?)

    I don’t know of any female-dominant religions now, I think even Wicca says there is fundamental equality of men and women, even though they worship a goddess. But perhaps “Femdomony” would work for couples who choose that route.

    In my church, as in many other Christian churches, gay marriages can even be sanctified and blessed as a religious rite. We like the word marriage just fine.

  27. velmak says:

    Yes, Tuddo, I’m sure “marriage” includes all the requisite ingredients for gays. It just doesn’t include the requirement that it be between a man and a woman. That hoary old notion is my idea of marriage. I expect you could come up with a cute neologism for the gay version if you really tried.

  28. velmak says:

    xring, if there is life after death, I truly prefer that it be not here and not now.

  29. velmak, the point is that you get to keep your version of marriage however you define it, and any version I mentioned can be called “marriage”, too, even though it wouldn’t meet certain people’s definition.

    That’s the beauty of equal rights under the law without other people’s religion intruding into our personal lives. We all get to have exactly the same playing field and make life what we want.

  30. notimetobleed says:

    Good for the Presbyterians, they will thrive and be just fine now and for eternity. Rather than focus on 6-7 rather vague passages that really don’t address the issue, they wish to actually model their church along the lines of the main message of the bible, things like love, acceptance, and peace.

    The cast away churches are the ones that will actually be the ones that will be losing members thought attrition since most of young people don’t see the problem with accepting gays.

    Now that these other congregations are no longer getting funding from the main church, they could save money by just shortening their bibles to just include the following passages since this seems to be their main message anyway.

    Genesis 2:21-26
    Genesis 19:1-14
    Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
    Romans 1:26-27
    1 Corinthians 6:9
    1 Timothy 1:10

  31. velmak says:

    Tuddo, I really appreciate that new-found freedom to define marriage however I like. I always wanted another spouse. I like the one I have, but I have my eye on another one who makes more money. I figure I can just marry him too and have the best of all possible worlds. After all, monogamy is old hat now, as is same-sex marriage. Thanks for helping me see the error of my ways. Now all we have to do is convince all those old fogies in the state and federal government to change all the laws prohibiting polygamy and polyandry. Maybe we’ll just start a riot like all those fine folks in Seattle. See you there?

  32. velmak, yep, that’s all you have to do, convince people that bigamy does not harm anybody, doesn’t harm the country and doesn’t harm the people involved and get the legislature to vote your way and then get a majority to vote your way. That’s what 30+ states did to remove the part of their traditional definition of marriage that said same race only. Other sstates have enacted legislation to either instil bans on close relatives or remove redefine ages where marriage is allowed.

    In Texas and some other states, you just get to call yourself married, live together and you are married. No license required, no messy paperwork, but the divorce procedings are rough and tumble.

    Polygamy is actually more traditional and more supported through the Bible than gay marriage, so you just might have a chance.

    Good luck.

  33. LornaDoone says:

    From one of “those” churches….

    Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in. And you say, ‘Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.’

    from the good pastor Sean Harris of North Carolina

  34. LornaDoone says:

    “aislander says:
    April 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm The KKK is hardly a “Christian organization” with its wizards and dragons, which are certainly not found in Christian terminology. The only Christian imagery is the cross, which is scarcely treated respectfully… ”

    Aislander thinks that the KKK is the only organization that attaches itself to Christianity and idolatry. Ignorance IS bliss If the only Christian imagery is the cross, the Catholic Church is way off.

    Someone advise the KKK that they are not Christian.

  35. Tuddo you insist on analogizing with race. You’ll have to show that race and sex are sufficiently similar to make that stick. Would you insist that men and women share the same restroom as you would blacks and whites? Just asking, because I really wanat to make a case for my new defintion of marriage. Now I’m thinking about marrying a thoroughbred from Kentucky. That Triple Crown could make me a very wealthy women.

  36. Lorna, it would be pretty funny to see what would happen if Pastor Harris tried to slap around some of the gay marine and army officers who spoke out against don’t ask, don’t tell.

    Its also pretty funny to watch limp-wristed and lisping heterosexual preachers telling guys to butch it up.

  37. velmak, my arguments have always been that the civil rights of humans are the same. I use the Supreme Court case on interracial marriage because it is the most recent case, and it so clearly stated the basic civil right to marry and that people have a right to choose whom they marry. I’ve never said race and sexuality are exactly the same, but there are cerain legal principles that apply to both, and to other situations.

    Removing the ban on interracial marriages also shows the statement that we have never changed the definition of marriage in the last one thousand years as totally ridiculous. Virginia tried using that argument about interracial marriage and was shot down completely.

    There have been several Supreme Court cases that help sum up my view of Constitutional support for gay marriage. They all involve the question, can a state restrict certain marriages. The anser is yes, to some, no to others.

    Yes, a state may restrict or prohibit certain marriages (with my own inarticulate summary of the court’s reasoning):

    marriage between close relatives – it causes harm to offspring and to family relationships and inherentance laws. (distant relatives can marry, and several states had to narrow their restrictions based on the ruling)

    age restrictions – yes, each party must be of age to understand and comply with the marriage contract and be legally able to enter into a contract, but it cannot be arbitrarily high or be based on voting rights, military service, or other unrelated issues. (several states had to lower or raise their age of marriage because of this)

    polygamy – it harms family units, inheritance rights and democracy

    state license required (versus common law) – states may require a license only to show that parties meet marriage law requirements, not to otherwise restrict marriage, but each state gets to decide whether a license is required.

    No, a state may not restrict marriages:

    interracial marriage – nuff said;

    persons with a disability – each party must be mentally competent to enter into a contract, but other restrictions are not allowed

    status of incarceration – no, a state may not restrict an inmate from marrying another inmate or a civilian, saying “the decision to marry is a fundamental right”, and “the decision to marry (apart from the logistics of the wedding ceremony) is a completely private one”.

    So, in these cases the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown that a state cannot restrict contracting in a marriage unless there is harm to people in the marriage, harm to other people or harm to our democracy. They said it was up to the state to provide such proof of harm, not the people wanting to get married to provide proof of no harm.

    So, to repeat what I have said for over ten years now, show me harm or inability to make a contract and I will listen to your arguments against gay marriage.

    Use arguments that the Supreme Court has already said do not apply to marriage, (and that includes religious arguments) and I will object.

    If you can find a state that has contract law allowing horses to sign contracts, and find a horse that can communicate that he or she is able to understand and comply with a marriage contract, and can sign or mark it, and the state cannot present reasonable arguments that a horse/human marriage might harm anyone, then go for it.

  38. Tuddo, what I contest is not so much what the person or horse can legally do as your attempt to change the definition of marriage. Yes, the definition has been changed in the sense that persons of different races can marry. What has not (so far) been changed (broadly) is the requirement that the partners be of opposite sexes.

    Before I can marry a Triple Crown Winner, the definition of marriage must include the species Equus ferus caballus. I see necessary logical impediment to that–especially if I marry a male horse. That the horse is not of the species homo sapiens strikes me as a completely arbitrary and narrow-minded reason for excluding it from the definition of marriage. Same goes for your peevish legal distinctions re signing contracts. You have no right to intefere with horses’ God-given rights to equality with all his creatures. You, Sir, are an anachronism, a retrograde speciesist of the worst sort. No doubt you kick your dog too. Outrageous.

  39. velmak, that’s the difference between my arguments and the arguments of the anti-gay marriage people. My arguments are logical, use facts and legal precedents and make sense. No one has refuted them or answered them with reasonable, rational debate.

    Your horse argument is a waste of good manure.

    If you were a white woman wanting to marry a black man in most states in the late 1800’s, then the definition of marriage would not have included your situation. Society thought it was one of the most outrageous and disgusting thing imaginable, and most people said the Bible prohibited it.

    State by state it was changed, society changed its views little by little, jsut like now. The same states that were progressive then about interracial amrriage are progressive about gay amrriage today,a nd the same sattes that said the definition of marriage could not ever include inerracial amrriage are the same states that are clinging to bigotry.

    It took the US Supreme Court to change that fundamental definition that had always been there. We have come such a long way from that thought so that now you think it was a minor little tweak. That just proves how wrong are those who deny gay marriage for the same reasons they denied interracial marriage – hate and bigotry- and how harshly society will judge such thoughts in the future.

  40. velmak says:

    Tuddo, you dismiss my “horse” argument without refuting it’s logic. Today’s speciesism is tomorrow’s “hate and bigotry.” How harshly society will judge you in the future.

  41. velmak there is no logic to your argument. Contracts are between sentinent beings only. Logic? I got a charley horse and became horse from laughing so much over that!

    As I said, show me a horse that can understand a contract, is old enough to get married (a 16 year old horse is getting up there) meet its contractual obligations and sign on the dotted line, and then we can talk.

    I wish I could be around when arguments are flying about alien+human marriages.

  42. spotted1 says:

    I look at this thread and can only say one thing, “Huh?”

    Churches that choose to follow their beliefs and separate from the church can and are much Christian as those who choose not to separate. Both sides pull out the Bible, whip it open, and throw down scripture to support their arguement.

    Yet, when it comes down to it, the arguements from the “non-christian” public are always not biblically based.

    If you had done any research into what the PCUSA is actually dealing with and why the split, you would know that the issue of homosexuality IN THEIT PASTORS is only one small issue of much larger issues that are occurring. No one ever said that they would not allow gay and lesbian couples into the church. Nor did the mention of shunning gays and lesbians every come up. That has been a public assumption. The issue, though it is a small one in the scheme of things, is the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors.

    If you did your research, you would know that why the split is occurring is far more than just the issue of homosexuality. But, since you are all intelligent people, you can seek it out for yourselves after you have finished arguing the finer points of abnormal human/non-human marriages.

  43. velmak says:

    Horse feathers, Tuddo. Many human beings don’t understand marriage contracts as shown by the fact that they try to get out of them shortly after they enter into them. As for abiding by the terms of the contract, that’s good for a real horse laugh. As for being able to sign a contract, a horse can make an “X” as well as any illiterate human. So, my last word on the subject to you is don’t be a horse’s patootie.

  44. velmak, I have often said that if Christians were so bent on defending marriage, they would be spending energy to get rid of allowing people to divorce, not creating barriers to people trying to get married. Jesus did have things to say about divorce, unlike gay marriage, and he was totally against it.

    So how come divorced people get to be ministers in Presbyterian and other Christian churches if Jesus was so against it?

    spotted1, I, for one, am very familiar with the issues surrounding the discussion in the Presbyterian church. They are very similar to the discussions held before the Civil War. Southern Presbyterians split from the PCUSA, forming the PCCSA in 1861, which became the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

    Both sides said they held the true understanding of the Bible and Christ’s teachings. The slavery issue was just one of many that created tension in the church at that time, but it was the one that caused the split.

    The same is true for ordination of gays today. The other issues are ever present, (I remember some conventions discussing these back in 1988 and before), but it is the ordination of gays that is finally causing churches to leave, so that is the issue that gains the most attention.

    Pick and choose, that’s what Christians do. They swim with the tide and show their hypocrisy. I really don’t care what churches decide or not, that is up to them and their members. It is fun, however, to watch those who say they are clinging to the Bible and tradition and fighting progressive views that corrupt the church, bristle when likened to the pro-slavery factions that used the exact same arguments.

    I predict that there will be a future re-merger of Presbyterians after the issue is decided that yes, gays are humans after all, no more or less sinful than any other human, like was decided about blacks and caused the re-merger of the split denominations.

  45. aislander says:

    I thought I was implying that the only Christian imagery used by the KKK was the cross. I didn’t say it was the only Christian imagery there IS!

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