New Ideas #2: Markers for the Way Forward
This is the second in an ongoing series of “New Ideas” thought pieces. We want to explore these ideas together and solicit your feedback.
As we prepare for our August gathering, some additional thoughts on our denomination:
1) Signs of Terminal Illness
The denomination is indeed showing signs of terminal illness – that is for us non-negotiable as our reading of the state of affairs. Numerical decline and constant arguing over sexuality and Christology are for us signs of serious illness and obstacles to vital missional engagement.
Connectionalism is basic to our Presbyterian way. We evangelicals regret the ways in which the current spirit in our denomination has created a tendency among ourselves toward a non-Presbyterian “independentism,” where many of our congregations have been pretty much doing their own thing, basically ignoring the denominational ties as much as possible. This has been due to the fact that we have wanted to maintain health amidst the denominational illness – but it is time to recommit to connectionalism.
3) New Mode of Participation
A vital connectionalism under present circumstances is virtually impossible for us within the current denominational structures. We need a new mode of participation – preferably the formation of a synod along non-geographical lines. This will become an absolute necessity if the standards for ordination change.
4) A Continuing Presbyterian Church
We oppose schism. Whatever the configuration in our future as Presbyterians, it will be as a continuing Presbyterian church, maintaining fidelity to our Reformed confessional standards – calling others in our denomination to return to our doctrinal heritage and practice.
5) The Cause of Justice
We are firmly committed to the cause of social, political, and economic justice. We pledge to redouble our efforts in urban ministries, honoring God’s call to women and men to serve together in positions of leadership in church and society, the struggle against racism, and more visible ties to the global church, particularly the churches of the southern hemisphere.
6) Chastity Commitments
If the chastity requirement changes, we ask our sisters and brothers with whom we disagree on same-sex questions to pledge their continuing solidarity with us by:
a) committing to work with us in forming practical evangelistic and pastoral strategies to address the widespread promiscuity in our churches and in the larger culture, both heterosexual and homosexual.
b) committing to the protection of ecclesiastical and legal rights of those opposed to same-sex intimacy to teach and preach in conformity to the traditional Christian consensus regarding the Bible’s standards on such matters.
c) officially endorsing the formation of positive relations with churches more “conservative” than the PC(USA) as a necessary element in our denominational ecumenical outreach.