Aug 29th, 2008 · Categories: PCUSA, Personal · 2 Comments

PCUSA: Why I want out

It seems to me that God tolerates institutional divisions in the church (otherwise known as denominations) for two possible reasons:

1. Doctrinal unity. None of us understands God’s theology. We struggle to grasp the principles that underlie his redemptive plan and our place in it, but we come to different understandings. Rather than watch us waste time endlessly debating our differences, God graciously allows us to join together with like-minded believers. This enables us to teach one another, admonish one another, encourage one another, hold one another accountable, and grow in faith together as we believe Scripture leads us.

2. Working together. Denominations provide a way for roughly a billion Christians to subdivide into smaller and smaller groups yet remain in fellowship with a larger body. This enables us to carry out our collective mission in ways that single churches or even churches in a single community might be unable to do.

The PCUSA fails on both counts.

1. There is no doctrinal unity in the PCUSA. We have no non-negotiables (sometimes called “essential tenets”) in the PCUSA. Our denomination gags on the idea of non-negotiables because to identify them would bring about the horrors of “subscriptionism” – we might require officers of the church to “subscribe” to the beliefs that are embodied in the essentials. This, in turn, would violate the consciences of candidates who don’t hold those beliefs.

This claim, of course, is a red herring. Nobody would be required to subscribe to anything. Any candidate for any office is always free to believe anything he or she wishes. The church would simply say to some candidates, “we respect your right to hold to your beliefs and we certainly don’t want you to change them in order to get a job. We just can’t give you this job.”

In a denomination that has made individual conscience its new god, subscriptionism is the greatest heresy. Oh, wait; the PCUSA isn’t sure there is such a thing as heresy any more. OK, in the PCUSA, subscriptionism is just a Really Bad Thing.

Where there are no non-negotiables, everything is negotiable.

2. As for working together, simply consider the resources God has given us to proclaim and win souls for his kingdom that we in the PCUSA have squandered fighting over number 1. Some of us try to achieve doctrinal unity while others try to convince us that doctrinal unity doesn’t matter. Either way, we don’t work together nearly as well as we could if we had number 1.

We are, as noted by J. Gresham Machen and Parker Williamson nearly a century apart, two different faiths occupying one institution. One of those competing faiths has captured the institutional apparatus and now – proudly, vindictively, greedily, deceptively – tries to hold the other in chains. It is not altogether surprising that those who worship the god of conscience resolutely refuse to honor the consciences of those who can no longer stomach the PCUSA’s apostasy.

Before long, I will “officially” leave the PCUSA – with or without my church – because this earthly institution has departed from the body of Christ. The reality is that leaving the PCUSA is a mere formality because the PCUSA has already left me.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008 at 12:41 pm and is filed under PCUSA, Personal. 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.

2 Responses to “PCUSA: Why I want out”

  1. Red_Cleric Says:

    August 29th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Just goes to prove that no matter what they SAY Theology DOESN’T Matter.


  2. Tithing | The Curmudgeon's Progress Says:

    May 29th, 2018 at 11:01 am

    […] Before we continue to the other two possible answers, we need to look at what the word “tithe” means. In both the Old and New Testaments, it is nearly synonymous with “one tenth”. So to tithe means for God’s people to set aside 10% for God’s use by whatever person or organization he has designated. In the Old Testament, it was the Levitical priesthood; in the New Testament, it is the Church Universal and its surrogates – local congregations and/or denominations (Denominations? I think so – see the first two paragraphs in this post about the PCUSA). […]

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