By the Rev. David W. Turner, Winds of Talahi blog.
There have been few times in my life when I have been truly soul sad. As a Pastor, I have stood by the bed of dying patients and encouraged them to hope in Heaven when earth offered them none. I have held the hands of mothers when their cries had no comfort, because the terminally ill child in their arms would be the pain of unfulfilled dreams. I have listened to the hurt of children betrayed, seen the terror of marriages destroyed by temptation, and cried when good people have made devastatingly bad choices. For these my soul has hurt, being soul sad is a state in which you mourn for something you have lost knowing it can never be replaced and its loss will change the very fiber of your life.
I was soul sad when my father died at the age of forty and left a thirteen year old son to make it on his own. I knew my life had changed and nothing in life would ever fill the void. Over the years I have missed so much in life he could have shared with me or taught me. When they closed the casket on my mother’s face my brother and I knew the family was forever changed and no matter what we taught our children they would never know the richness of the home we had once known. We were soul sad.
I felt the deep loss of being soul sad this past week when the belief and dedication to the Bible died in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The death had been coming for quite some time, but finally it came to a vote. A simple vote over whether the Bible was to be obeyed or whether we as a people could determine, apart from the scripture, what was right or wrong. The focal point was the amendment changing the definition of marriage. Jesus had declared marriage to be when a man left his father and mother and clung to his wife. The church now describes that as being any two consenting adults, traditionally a man and a woman.
Last week it became our Presbytery’s time to vote, not that our vote would matter, the manipulators and schemers had, during the General Assembly Meeting last July, already put into effect the Authoritative Interpretation that negated any real power to divert or correct the plunge of the Presbyterian Church (USA) into apostasy. However, it was the final shot we could fire in the war against those determined to steal the church, denying its history, and corrupting its faith. We had to try, but sadly when the time to fight came, only two pastors stood to raise the flag of objection. With a final vote of sixty favoring the amendment to change the definition of marriage, the faith and convictions of the forty-two commissioners voting against were discounted, no longer heeded as being valid or desired in the future of the progressive church. I knew then what I spoke on the floor of the Presbytery was a prophesy which will be fulfilled.
Very well stated article. I believe it sums up the feelings of many Presbyterians. I resigned my position in the Session last month. Now I am searching and listening for God’s direction to a new church home. My heart has been broken but God will renew it again and awaken it in my new church home. Thanks again for the article.
Excellent read. In the PCUSA, the Bible is well on its way to becoming Swiss Cheese – various parts no longer have meaning. The Bible will be nothing more than the tube of lipstick in a purse or the latest boy toy. Something one can draw upon to enhance ones current image of themselves.
We are now doomed to the cultural winds of each generation blowing through the pages of the Bible.
Again, do not despair. We serve a great and mighty God who always, always sees his people though both good and bad times. Our God is far bigger, far greater than the emasculated, bloodless, god of the PCUSA. A god that cannot save, a god that this is simply too small.
Good grief! This guy compares marriage equality on a per congregation basis to young children dying? Get a grip! He speaks longingly of the “Southern Presbyterian Church” that used Scripture to rationalize slavery and subjugation of women? Good riddance, honestly.
Thanks Rev. Turner for demonstrating to me the right spirit as I too depart.
Anne, I get the impression from some of your post that you don’t care who leaves as long as they leave the door keys and bank account numbers. Besides gay marriage is not on the same level as womens ordination or slavery, and nor should it be.
You are right, people in the south did use scripture wrongly to perpuate injustices, this brought about much hurt, however, the Bible is still the only rule of faith and practice the Church has. Our misuse of it does not lessen its truth or our obligation to obey what God teaches us through it. People are the ones at fault, people like you and me, who are often tempted to only see the Bible as a tool for the justification or condemnation of what they want or desire. I think this is the very problem, we are talking, but not listening to God and what the Word says. I once was told I was as prejudiced against those who I saw as prejudiced as they were. Maybe so, but maybe you are too. God bless you.
actually, the approach to scripture that lead to ending racism in the church, and to the ordination of women will lead, logically (and appropriately) to GLBT ordination and GLBT equality. That is not just a liberal/progressive opinion. Dr. Al Mohler of the flagship Southern Baptist Seminary has said as much, as have many conservatives.
the issues are related.
And Annes comments about his comparisons are totally apt.
Anne, yes, this piece definitely has the feel of a “you kids get off my lawn” personality. Somehow the recent vote in his presbytery meant that “the faith and convictions of the forty-two commissioners voting against were discounted.” Most likely he is just projecting his own feelings, and that when a couple years ago his presbytery voted no on 10-a, this is exactly how he felt about those who fell short in voting the other way: that HE could then discount THEIR faith and convictions. He seemingly cannot imagine that anyone else has a different mindset that does he. And in his world the 61% of GA who voted in favor of the authoritative interpretation were “manipulators and schemers” unjustly unwilling to allow the 39% who felt differently to continue to deny the legitimacy of the relationships of some in our churches. And now with the votes on 14-f it is the 2/3 who “steal” the church from the 1/3 he apparently considers have some right of ownership.
WOW pres,Anne,and Gene You all seem kind of bitter, and you all know the AI vote was illegal, the only part of the book of order your side recognizes is the trust clause page. As far stealing churches, your side has perfected the art of living off dead people’s money and real estate transactions. The only way for the far left churches to make it is to take church property from the people who actually paid for it, or financially rape them to keep it.
I will predict this, the pcusa will look like ecusa within 5 years, and the only way that they have been able to make it work is off dead people’s money, and suing departing churches, oh yeah, that looks like a great future, don’t you think?
The Layman staff needs to be careful here. There is sometimes a fine line between a person who brings a thoughtful argument that counters a Layman article, and a troll. A number of trolls have been posting multiple comments on virtually every recent article on this web site. This can only discourage long-time readers of The Layman from continuing to visit the site. Trolling is a problem that has to be dealt with eventually; The Layman has reached that point.
An individual (person) is one thing and behavior is another. To me the amendment asks, if through a marriage, a teaching elder can ask for God’s blessing for a man to have intimate relations with a man and a woman to have intimate relations with a woman. That is behavior – not personhood.
Now the question becomes, how did we get to the point where we cannot tell the difference between a person and a behavior? To be against a behavior all of a sudden becomes an attack on a person? To where does that logic lead?
Funny use of the term “bitter.” The Layman here reposts an angry diatribe from someone whose presbytery along with the GA voted a way he did not like, so now he does some serious ad hominem on those with whom he disagrees (those people are schemers, apostates, manipulators, on and on…). With a presbytery vote that did not go his way, it is time to call people names and head out the door. Anne points this out, and SHE is the one who is “bitter.” I suspect that Anne is one of many people who for many years saw votes that did not go the way she wanted, but she did not see that as reason to pick up her toys and leave because she just was not going to play any more. hmmmm
It really isn’t about the vote. The majority can be wrong, without a doubt.
Is the term apostate the wrong term? Why or why not?
The approach to scripture, as you so aptly put it, used to be that Scripture alone is Lord of the conscience.
As many learned biblical scholars, some of which are pro-gay, say there is no Scriptural support for same sex marriage, then it logically leads that the correct interpretation of Scripture is to deny such marriages.
However, considering that even when such scholars say this, these opinions are given short shrift with the usual reasoning “well that’s your interpretation”.
However, when such beliefs are expressed, those who hold them are called on the wrong side of ‘history’, or worse.
Dr. Mohler said that because of the interpretation of Scripture allowing for women’s ordination it was a logical leap to allow same sex marriage. While I respect Dr. Mohler’s thoughts on many things he’s coming from a Souther Baptist (albeit Reformed) point of view. Scripture gives many examples of women who led and taught, both in the Old and New Testaments. I can respect those who do not see the Scriptural support, as it can be ambiguous. There are conservative Presbyterian denominations that see it one way or the other, and a few who see it as non-essential.
There is no ambiguity in Scripture when it comes to homosexuality. Dr. Mohler’s thoughts were if a denomination could easily justify women’s ordination with loose interpretations of Scripture, it could easily justify same sex marriage. He’s right, insofar as the entirety of Scripture must be ignored in order to justify such marriage. That is something that many who are leaving the PC(USA) can no longer abide.
I don’t believe he was talking about the 61% who voted at GA were schemers, but those who were pushing the AI, even when it was shown that the original ACC advice was that the AI was unconstitutional, and that it should have been ruled out of order.
Frankly .. I did not see anger in the original post, but extreme sadness that a once great, Biblically faithful denomination is heading down a path that many can no longer follow.
Don, it leads to people being called ‘bigot’, ‘hater’, ‘homophobe’, or worse; just because one condemns the behavior of some and calls it sin.
As to the parsing of internal personhood and external personal behavior. Christ in his ministry never assumed that one can make a dichotomy between the two. He rejected the classical Greek notion that the soul and flesh were somehow divorced from one another. One’s behavior flowed out of the condition of one’s spirit and soul (personhood). He never assumed that the soul of an individual could be regenerated or saved apart from transformation of personhood. Paul picked up the theme in his discourse of the fruits of the Spirit.
Peter more than once tried to make that distinction when he asked to stay on the mount of transfiguration and wanted to erect tents of worship, so he never had to wrestle with the difficult and demands of total submission of flesh, will and spirit to Christ. The Lord had a retort for him. “get thee behind me Satan”. No exactly words of comfort or affirmation.
The unsaved mind is like the unsaved spirit or soul. Never seeking to offend, never seeking to make a difference. Always being “nice” and affirming to all. While at the same time their souls are dead as a doornail.
Don … its a fine line between prohibiting trolls, and censorship. I know of some sites that have banned people who present logical, cogent arguments and avoid flaming those who flame them, just because they are being reasonable in their arguments, and the only thing brought against them is ad hominems.
Pres, you have some kind of severely dysfunctional outlook on life and reality if you can honestly and sincerely describe “Being Soul Sad…” as an “angry diatribe”! That is completely and totally bizarre. It is a poignant and carefully written piece that PERFECTLY captures what has happened and how many of us feel…..exactly. My thanks to the author of the piece….and my pity on someone so messed up in their thought process to characterize the piece as you did.
I agree, it’s a judgment call and can be tricky. In some cases, though, it’s not difficult. And of course The Layman has the right to delete any comments, including mine, if they feel it’s appropriate to do so.
Progressives forget that there is the possibility that these sexual sins might lead to spiritual death of the person. If true, and I believe it is in some cases where the person reject God’s ways, then speaking out against such behavior is a loving act. Everything is turned up side down in the PCUSA.
It is this acceptance of wrong behavior from this vote that is heart saddening .
I thank all of you for your comments. As I think on it I believe I have chosen well my words. When I was a commissioner to the General Assembly I was brought to the realization people had to scheme and manipulate the system to be heard or to advance any agenda. It is only a fool who thinks that is not the method used. Those are not inaccurate words. Do I think the church has been stolen, Yes, I do because I believe the Church must be based on scriptural truth and to take that away is to destroy the very foundation of what the Church is about. I have been labeled as bitter, well that is a matter for discussion isn’t it? At this point I would say I am more resigned to the enevitability of the departure of the Spirit of God from the PCUSA. I am sad for that as “reformed Catholic” has noted. I am sad for children who dying for they have not known the joy of living in Jesus, and I am sad for people who should be living in Jesus but choose to live in sin. So yes I am sad, why aren’t you?
Do you all think John Witherspoon is spinning in his grave?