Observation: There is at present no clear desire in some of the courts of the PCC to uphold current biblical, doctrinal, and moral standards.
If we are unwilling at General Assembly and presbytery levels to address the contrast between practice and God’s Word, why bother to propose new legislation that will also not be upheld? Can a denomination reflect the church of Christ without discipline? Scripture is clear. We are to love one another, but we are also not to accept in our midst those who cause division by teaching unsound doctrine. (see 2 Timothy 4:3; 3:5; 1 Timothy 1:3,10; 3:10; Judges 2:2-3; 2 John 9-10.)
Is it a good thing that some courts of the PCC don’t uphold our current national doctrinal and biblical standards in matters of human sexuality? (see bulletin #2) It makes them appear more welcoming and inclusive, but when our national church standards, which we have historically covenanted to accept together, are disregarded, then our unity is diminished. A recent comment received by Psalt suggests that our disunity is caused by “people who decide for themselves what it means to be Presbyterian rather than submitting to what the Presbyterian community says it means to be Presbyterian.”
Unity starts with common interests and connections, upon which it can be enlarged. Families and hobby clubs, for example, start this way. Unity in the PCC can start with the diversity of just whoever shows up for church services — but it cannot end there. Church attendance is “first base”, but it is not “home plate”. Just as a healthy family grows towards that deeper unity found in love for one another, so, too, we in the church must all grow into an increasing love for the truth of God’s Word so that Christ will rule our hearts. And if that uniting love for God’s Word and for Christ is jeopardized, do we hold our convictions strongly enough to ensure that this unity is not lost? Can unity, based on the truth of God’s Word, be possible without taking steps to preserve it? Ravi Zacharias says, in effect, “No”: “It is impossible to sustain truth without excluding falsehood.” (Why Jesus? p.258)
It’s easy to skip quickly over the last few verses of the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:11-14. A party crasher is thrown out because he didn’t come “dressed properly” — he had probably “decided for himself what it meant to be Presbyterian” so as to be there. But he had somehow upset a unity in the feast. So, we must ask ourselves, “Why am I here in the PCC? Am I wanting to define it around me? Perhaps there is another place more suited to my desires.” This writer once observed the elderly senior pastor of a Chinese church graciously greeting presbyters as they arrived for Synod at his church. In the narthex, he put a fatherly arm around one of them to lead him right back to the entrance door. Pointing to his still-lit cigarette, he said, “You can stay, but that has to go.” A church needs to be able to articulate, with discipline if necessary, “a theology that embraces all people but not all behaviours”, as Carmen Laberge of the PCUSA reminded us at the Psalt conference two years ago. Our biblically based PCC doctrinal and moral standards are like highway signs ensuring that everyone who desires has a chance to get past “first base”, because to get to “home plate” requires that we come to God on His terms.
Acts 15 tells us how the early church resolved a great schism in theology and practice, and preserved the church during a time when immorality was rife. Paul and Timothy went out and “delivered to the believers the rules decided upon by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, and they told them to obey those rules. So the churches were made stronger in the faith and grew in numbers every day.” (Acts 16:4-5 GNT)