ARPTalk – Issue 4 – Severing Fraternal Relationships with the PCUSA

 

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Welcome to the fourth edition of ARPTalk. Unlike the past three editions of ARPTalk, there are only two articles. The first article is the lead article. Since the ARPC has maintained various ties with the PC(USA) over the years, the recent actions of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) make it more than awkward to maintain those relationships. In past conversations with many of you, you have stated that if the PC(USA) ever permits the ordination of practicing homosexuals that is the time to sever all relationship with them. Well, the PC(USA) now permits the ordination of practicing homosexuals. Also, in recent conversations the question asked is how to frame a memorial to General Synod that will implement the severing of all relationship between the ARPC and the PC(USA). The lead article, “Proposed Memorial re the PC(USA)” gives commentary for and a template to be used for a memorial.

The second article is ATTACHED. Just before the meeting of General Synod this year a letter written by the Reverend Mark Wright, the Pastor of the Unity ARP Church in Second Presbytery, was circulated in First Presbytery and Second Presbytery (and perhaps in other places). That letter is a complaint regarding the Barthian bias of an ETS professor in a Th.M. course that he took. Copied with his permission is the letter he sent and the response he received. Interspersed are the comments and opinions of the editor of ARPTalk.

If you are new to ARPTalk, the purposes of ARPTalk are two-fold: (1) To inform you of the significant issues that are before ARPdom that are overlooked or ignored; and (2) To give voice to those who feel their voice has been taken away and they have been disenfranchised.

If you have thoughts, articles, reviews, criticisms, or news that is of interest to the ministers and laypersons of ARPdom, if you submit them, I will most likely publish them in ARPTalk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

* * * * * *

Proposed Memorial re the PC(USA)

By now, unless you have spent your summer at a desert retreat on Mars, you are aware of the actions of the General Assembly of the PC(USA). The drift of the PC(USA) into apostasy is vexing. It is painful to watch the theological disintegration and numerical decline of what we all acknowledge to be the “mother church” of American Presbyterianism. Incredibly the PC(USA) is losing 55,000 congregants a year!

In the past, my response has been to ask how can we in the ARPC aid the conservatives in the PC(USA). A few years ago, I framed a memorial to General Synod that would have set up a method for conservative, PC(USA) congregations to transfer to the ARPC. Over the years I have voiced opposition to breaking fraternal relationships with the PC(USA).

The theological and ecclesiastical climates have changed drastically since the General Assembly of 2008. The drift of the PC(USA) into apostasy is now an avalanche that, in my opinion, makes them a de facto pagan, fertility cult. Their willingness to embrace the ordination of practicing “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered” persons is an offense to both the light of nature and Holy Scripture. Moreover, this dramatic and wholesale departure from the teachings of the Bible and the historic consensus of the Christian tradition effectively places the PC(USA) as an organization outside the bounds of historic Christianity.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul writes “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Paul declares that homosexuality in its various forms is a sinful activity that requires redemption by the washing, sanctifying and justifying work of God that comes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. The PC(USA) institutionally has gutted the Bible by effectively declaring that homosexual activity is not a sin that requires repentance and redemption. What Paul and the clear witness of the Bible reprobates the PC(USA) institutionally approbates. In the PC(USA) homosexual sin in its various forms is now tolerated and, in many circles, celebrated as virtuous in the clergy. If this does not nullify the authority of the Bible as a whole and particularly in regards to sinful and condemned activities, what does? And one other question: If this is not the self-deception of which Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9, what would that self-deception look like?

I am certain that there are some who will say I am over-reacting. Some may even accuse me of homophobia. However, the lines have now been drawn very straight and the issues defined very clearly. Either the Word of God written is honored and obeyed or the word of man invented is idolatrously instituted in place of God’s Word.

Unless I am misunderstood, let me make it very clear that I am not saying that every member of a PC(USA) congregation and every minister in the PC(USA) are now outside the Christian faith. The point I am making involves institutional identity and the theological issues that determine ecclesiastical relationships.

Ecclesiastical relationships involve like-mindedness. The recent actions of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) are such that it makes it impossible for us, as Bible believing, to walk together in fraternal relationship.

I have talked with many of you regarding this matter. The question that is being asked is HOW DO WE FRAME A MEMORIAL FOR GENERAL SYNOD TO ADDRESS THIS MATTER? I do not presume to write a memorial that encompasses all your thoughts; however, below is a template that may be useful. If this isn’t the memorial that should be used, then something like this should be framed. A memorial such as this should be introduced to each of our Presbyteries for deliberation.

WHEREAS, for more than three decades the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been torn by controversy over the ordination of practicing “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered” persons; and

WHEREAS, the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), meeting in June 2008, issued an “authoritative interpretation” of their Book of Order that immediately allows for practicing “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered” candidates to object conscientiously to the existing standards that require candidates for ordination to live “either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage of a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness,” and that allows Presbyteries to approve the ordination of “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered” persons on a case-by-case basis; and

WHEREAS, this action is a highhanded rejection of the clear teaching of the Bible that our God-given gifts of sexuality are to be expressed in the context of covenant marriage between a man and a woman; and

WHEREAS, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in her long history has sought to maintain fraternal relations with like-minded Presbyterian and Reformed denominations; and

WHEREAS, the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church currently maintains a relationship of Fraternal Correspondence and other cooperative relationships with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and

WHEREAS, the recent actions by the Presbyterian Church (USA) make it impossible for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to walk together in obedience to God’s Word;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church immediately severs all relationships with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and that the Moderator of the General Synod be instructed to frame a lettter to the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) informing her or him of this action.

These are my thoughts,

Chuck

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