Sep 16th, 2006 · Categories: PCUSA · No Comments

PCUSA: The return of the Jedi

After blowing up the planet Alderon with his secret weapon, the Death Star, Emperor Palpatine believed he had crushed the Rebel Alliance and imposed peace on the Galactic Empire. From his capital in Coruscant, Palpatine deployed his vast army of storm troppers to root out the remnant of the Alliance and consolidate his iron-fisted rule. But the Alliance came back even stronger as Jedi knights – long suppressed, persecuted and sometimes compromised by the Empire – came forth in the power of their ancient faith and defeated the Empire.

Now Jedi-like presbyteries are striking back against Emperor Clifton* and the empire wannabes in his capital of Louisville. After blowing up the constitution with their secret weapon, a phony Authoritative Interpretation of G-6.0108, the PUP task force and a compliant GA thought they had imposed peace too.

Their ploy of evading the process for altering the constitution seemed to have circumvented the presbyteries altogether. Armed with a pair of lawyers, Emperor Clifton has set out consolidate the PCUSA empire by acquiring either the loyalty or the property of every church and member. But he didn’t count on Presbyterian knights of the ancient and orthodox faith to rise up to oppose him.

All along, there have been members, churches, and organizations that have resisted the worldly drift of the PCUSA. But for the first time that I know of, administrative bodies of the church itself are defying the denomination’s imperial directivesCentral Florida and Sacramento have done so. Others (Whitewater Valley, Pittsburgh, Mississippi, even San Francisco) are being asked to seriously consider defiance. Still others have taken different approaches to saying to the PCUSA “enough is enough!”

It’s encouraging to see that the PCUSA empire has some cracks in its fortress. Blowing up the constitution was not the clean kill that blowing up Alderon seemed to be. Both empires were wrong about where the heart of their opponents lay and from where they drew their strength. But when we ponder the future of the PCUSA, does the Star Wars metaphore hold up?

A different end for this empire

I don’t think so. Courageous presbyteries are to be admired and supported. They can slow the empire’s onslaught and ease the pain for Presbyterians who stay, if only for a while. But even if Kirkpatrick were to be removed, the rot and corruption in Louisville are pervasive. The power and influence of the modernists and humanists are greater than even what Kirkpatrick imagines he can wield.

There is a fundamental structural flaw in the PCUSA, a flaw that seems to be common among all constitutional democracies of any size, of which the PCUSA and USA are both examples. These polities contain the seed of their own destruction – a complacent citizenry (whether members of the PCUSA or voters in the USA) that allows power to escape from its hands into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats at the highest level. With their own vested interests in mind and with the power to implement their personal ideals (which are often lofty in their own way), these powerful insiders lose sight of the original mission of the entity they lead.

When that happens, the constitution that was created to further the original mission becomes a hindrance to the current one and must be circumvented in any way possible. As constitutional democracies, the PCUSA and the USA provide eerily parallel examples of this flaw. The difference, of course, is that the mission of the USA was not given us by God and we are not accountable to him for its completion. (Interestingly, of all the PCUSA renewal organizations and denominational branches, the NWAC is the only group that has addressed this flaw.)

The PCUSA cannot be saved by human effort. It appears to me that God has turned his attention to faithful Presbyterian churches in Asia and the Global South. He seems to have given the job of renewing the American church to denominations and independent churches that remain faithful to him. Those are the places faithful Christians should be laboring. We should be following God, not imploring him to follow us.

The end of the PCUSA empire is not in defeat but in departure.

* Some commentators have likened the Stated Clerk to a pope, but I didn’t want to risk offending our Catholic brothers and sisters. It’s been a long time since a pope in Rome has behaved as reprehensibly as our emperor in Louisville.

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 16th, 2006 at 10:53 am and is filed under PCUSA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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