Presbyterian pastors across the country are taking to the pulpit and using the power of the pen to share the lament of their hearts at the action of their denomination’s General Assembly.
Jason Whitener (41), whose grandfather was a Presbyterian minister, preached with clarity, conviction and compassion and then determined that in good conscience he can no longer serve in the PCUSA. You can hear his sermon here.
James Edwards, esteemed professor at Whitworth College and longtime leader in Presbyterians for Renewal and Theology Matters, demitted his ordination. Saying in part:
In condoning same-sex marriage and redefining marriage the General Assembly of the PCUSA has heard another voice regarding gender and marriage than the univocal voice of Scripture and tradition, and in its decision to embrace that voice it has chosen to follow another lord than the one and only Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. An ecclesial body that turns from its orthodox heritage and teaches its members to do the same can no longer command, nor does it deserve, allegiance from the faithful. What the Apostle Peter said to the Sanhedrin I must say to a denomination that has substituted an alien anthropology for a Biblical and Christian anthropology: ‘I must obey God rather than man’ (Acts 5:29).
Dan McMillan, who has pastored faithfully for in the denomination for decades, wrote to his congregation:
A nation that no longer recognizes and defends its sovereign boundaries is no longer a nation.
A church that no longer recognizes and defends moral boundaries is no longer a church.
We are living in catastrophic times. It may not seem like it. Folks still go to work, fight traffic jams, take vacations, work hard to keep the house and lawn looking great, gather for family meals, go to sporting events….
It all seems normal where we live. But the world has changed disastrously right under our noses.
Proof? The nation will not defend its borders. It is being overwhelmed with children refugees and criminal elements from Central America and the Middle East.
Our national leaders’ response? Calls for compassionate care of the children, billions proposed to beef up an overloaded system of adjudication, requests to house the children in detention centers at military installations, extra funds for border patrol agents to baby-sit our new guests.
Some of our leaders propose securing the borders. But how? All of our leaders equivocate about closing the borders through use of arms and surveillance measures. Those who propose harsh measures for rounding up our illegal guests and transporting them home are called names like “racists” and “hate-mongers”
No, we no longer are citizens of a sovereign nation. State militias and private citizens are volunteering to close the borders themselves. They are trying to enforce federal law that national leaders refuse to enforce. They are accused of being lawless, taking the law into their own hands.
And what about a church without defined and defended boundaries?
I haven’t the space to explain. Two examples will suffice. First, an overture from Green Hill and approved by our Presbytery was voted on at General Assembly last month. Our proposal to the church at large was to simply study for two years the plight of unwanted children, both the born and unborn. It was a call to the church to open its collective eyes. It went down in flames, overwhelmingly defeated in committee and in the Assembly plenary session.
Our denomination won’t spend the time and effort to evaluate sacred boundaries of life created in the image of God. Think about that!
How can an individual believer in Christ, much less an entire congregation like Green Hill, contribute one penny to an enterprise that wilfully remains blind to camps of death where children are considered to be blobs of tissue or somehow less than human? If we remain silent we should be forced one day to apologize to the silent Germans of the 1930’s and 40’s.
Our denomination will not defend biblical holiness, but neither will it defend its own order and constitutional law. The worship directory in the current Book of Order clearly spells out that marriage is between a man and a woman. Blindly and foolishly the General Assembly voted to clarify the forever understanding of marriage and its own constitution by creating a new moral right of ministers to marry persons of the same gender in states that allow it.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is no longer a church. It cannot abide by its own Constitution, much less God’s covenant law regarding human relationships. Churches like Green Hill have been cast aside. Our mission partners in foreign lands are aghast at a once great missionary-minded and bible-believing denomination.
What are we to do now that the boundaries have been removed?
Let us be like Joshua who declared the truth of God to ancient Israel. He not only declared the truth, but He took a firm non-negotiable stand when he said “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
The time has come to declare the boundaries; but not only to declare them; we must take a stand as a church to defend them no matter what the cost.
A Spiritual Descendant of Joshua,
A pastor who served as a commissioner to the GA informed his congregation that if the amendment to formally redefine marriage in the Book of Order Directory for Worship were to achieve the necessary votes in the presbyteries then he would, in good conscience, have to retire at that time. The response from his presbytery has been to mobilize the Committee on Ministry to remove him now, charging that his statement was somehow designed to distance the congregation from the prevailing direction of the denomination.
Even institutional insiders like the former head of the denomination’s Office of Theology and Worship, Joe Small, sees problems with the procedures followed by the Assembly that led to its flawed decisions.
Of course, that is not the whole story.
While these grieve, others celebrate. You can read the reflections of pro-LGBTQ activists here:
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians
While some grieve and some rejoice, others are not yet satisfied. Threats to the so-called protection of conscience clause that was added to the amendment that is now before presbyteries for a vote, galls some for whom the LGBTQ agenda is genuinely a justice issue. Justice advocates are not satisfied with freedom of conscience for all. They are not satisfied until all agree with them.
Expect to hear arguments on the floor of your presbytery that feature the points made by Donna Riley who laments what she calls “heteronormative” language in the Book of Order.
Where will this all end? Good question. What we know is that the next year in the life of the PCUSA promises to be tumultuous.
Carmen, is Pastor Dan the one for whom the COM is being formed? That would be a complete shame if that is the case. He (along with a few others) has been a strong voice of reason down here in the Presbytery of South Alabama.
Any pastors leaving the PCUSA want to come to our little PCUSA church first and lead our congregation out? When your interim pastor is a pro-gay liberal but the congregation is Bible-believing, there’s a certain feeling of helplessness.
I strongly encourage everyone to listen to Dr. Whitener’s sermon (link above in the article). It is very powerful. The sermon text of 2 Timothy 3:14 ff. is absolutely the perfect foundation for his message.
Here’s a link to a news story about his subsequent resignation:
Good point. My experience has been the interims are sent to shake up and change their church. This is the period during which many members leave. So many faithful, decent pcusa members who have tried to stick with them have had their faith played with, shaken, and mocked. The only safe place is OUT.
“safe” is the word for it.
one of the worst things i read on here recently was about a group of church leaders in a national meeting being ‘forced’/asked to say a pledge, an oath, to a new liberal order, without any advance notice. this is the equivalent of pledging one’s soul to a someone/something other than the triune God. the person writing the post said he saw it for what it was and stopped speaking, while many just went along with it, blindly saying the words.
if this oath is mandated at a local level, a member could easily find himself one Sunday reciting a pledge without even realizing it. at that point it would be exceedingly difficult to reverse the damage, the moral equivalent of reversing a marriage vow.
i spoke with a close friend yesterday who is an elder in a PCUSA church. he told me they haven’t even been informed about what’s going on. granted it’s partly his responsibility to find out, but interesting that nothing apparently is being discussed, and i’ve read that from others here as well. it’s a very liberal church he’s involved with. they could easily be trying to keep the sheep in the dark, to avoid losing consersative members, etc.
it’s not clear to me that it’s appropriate to be trusting the leaders of PCUSA, any of them, at this time. at the end of the day, as with many other issues, a lot of well meaning Christians may side with their bank accounts. it’s very difficult to predict which ministers/leaders are going to be willing to walk away from income, assets, real estate, housing, pension, medical, other benefits. based on my experience, several decades in the business world, people will say and do just about anything to preserve a paycheck, other forms of financial security.
Related to the end of your comment, can anyone spell IDOLATRY? Wasn’t it Calvin who said our minds are idol-making factories?? But then again, Calvin? Who’s that?
I phoned my friend that attends Dr. Whitener’s church. I was hoping to hear he was going to start a new church locally… and my family of 5 would surely follow. Sadly, she thinks he will be leaving the area. Bravo to a man that stands up for his beliefs. I am so disgusted with the leadership… who will “go along to get along”… Oh wait, that’s “peace and unity”. We have sold our souls to the devil.
“A nation that no longer recognizes and defends its sovereign boundaries is no longer a nation.
A church that no longer recognizes and defends moral boundaries is no longer a church.”
As the church goes, so goes the nation.
Dr. Jason Whitener is great leader. I am a member of his church in Dunwoody, Georgia and served God as one of his Deacons in St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church. I am a follower of history and have studied President George Washington’s life. I place Jason Whitener right after George Washington as two of the greatest leaders of our Nation. I thank God for having the opportunity to work with and observe Jason for three years–as a Deacon. Best regards, Tom McKinney, Dunwoody (Atlanta), Georgia
Tom, is there any word regarding where Dr. Whitener will go? Or is he leaving without yet knowing what his next step will be?
Who is Calvin? Ask Servetus.
Pray for those pastors who are bold to take a stand and speak honestly to their congregations.
Pray for those who stand up and walk out of the denomination and even now are in
the process of discernment with their Presbytery. Pray for gracious separation within (the fellowship) and with out (leaving) the denomination. Romans 1 paints a picture that the penality of disobedience to God’s way is that
God gives them up to more disobedience and lawlwssness. This denomination will reap the results of their disobedience and it will be more, more, sin and denying God His place as creator and savior.. one day they will regret these actions as they are taken over,
It Is not just about losing members it is about letting lawlessness prevail that will in the end be horrific
and the denomination faces the penality of saying yes to flagrant disregard to Scripture.
But for those who still hear and listen to His voice and Word, you will find safety and a way forward (in or out), but you must learn to use the spiritual weapons effectively.
Pray for those who stand up and are being “persecuted” for Christ’s sake. Pray for the little ones in the faith who are being led astray. Pray that God would raise up speakers of truth to lead the believers
out of this chaos. This isn’t about our denomination, our property, our rights, but it is about GOD’S WILL.
Pray like your only safety out of this is dependant on GOD and He will show you the way.
Separate from the Apostasy taking your money with you, and let the dead tree be thrown into the fire as will the PCUSA be thrown into the Lake of Fire, Rev. 20 and 21.
@ Carmen. A word of appreciation for the quality of your writings and especially this one! It reflects the best practices in bringing dynamic news to people. You have done it, you have done it very well. The pen is mightier than the sword is now outdated. Your column displays an excellent example of tying in ‘the pen’ with other media avenues.
This incredible minister baptized my first born child in Columbia when he was an associate minister at Eastminster Presbyterian. I saw greatness in him then and a wisdom and maturity beyond his years. I not surprised that this greatness in him has led him to make such a bold and sacrificial decision on behalf of God. During our time at Eastminster, he and his wife became great friends of ours. I have never been more proud to know this man than now. Like Peter, he stepped out of the boat in faith and followed God’s will no matter what it cost him … his beloved church, his income, his career! Both his grandfather and father were PCUSA ministers which made it even harder to leave the PCUSA denomination, I’m sure. We left our PCUSA church in Greenville, SC last October knowing this General Assembly decision was coming and there would be no way to stop it. We are now at an incredible Southern Baptist church here in Greenville and are so happy. We haven’t looked back! Not only is the PCUSA church losing great ministers like Jason, they are losing great members who really live the word! I feel sorry for the PCUSA church (although they brought it upon themselves – some because they support it, others because they’ve done nothing to stop it!) because I see this GA decision as the death null. PCUSA will start to deteriorate quickly. So sad!
It was heartening to see the speed and purposefulness that GA-221 acted on behalf of the LGBT community in the areas of marriage. Like it or not, same sex marriage is legal in a number of states and is on the way to nationwide legalization in the next few years. The clarity provided by GA-221 to ministers who wish to conduct a SSM is quite usefull and does not force any minister who dos not wish to perform a SSM to do so. This harms no one, but only expands the definition of marriage – as it has been expanded to include rich marrying poor, black marrying white in the past. I remember when 10-A was modified a few years back, some in our mostly moderate congregation was disappointed, but not ready to jump up and leave. The actions of GA-221 barely even warranted any conversation in this same congregation. I figure that is progress and I am proud the PCUSA is leading the way for once on these matters – as the Episcopal Church is still dithering.
I suppose there are all sorts of “perversions” of God’s original intent of our sexuality in this sin-filled world. Just consider the internet and what anyone, even children can access. But I also believe that the evil one has closed the eyes and ears of many in the churches of what is morally acceptable in God’s eyes. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) are words that you will not find in your Bible… but the concepts are there if you had eyes to see and ears to listen to God’s Word. This sinful world has surrendered to their own passions and perversions… and called it “good” because of the simple fact that they believe that they are more compassionate, more loving, even more intelligent than God’s Word. In regard to not being “of” this world, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” You can call it whatever you wish… that is your choice… but sin is still defined by God’s Word as “SIN”. Try re-reading the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome… or have you removed that chapter from your Bible?
Thank you Linda Lee. I respect your beliefs. Best regards, to McKinney
As you say, same sex marriage is legal in a number of states, but the Bible is very clear on marriage. Tilt against windmills if you must, but in the end God’s law will be sovereign as it is now regardless of any GA actions.