The leaders of the New Wineskins Association have responded to the events of the 218th PCUSA General Assembly, and needless to say they aren’t impressed. Their statement deserves to be quoted in full:
Theologically unhinged – The 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has become theologically unhinged from our Biblical and Reformation foundation. The actions of this assembly are schismatic. They foster division within our denomination and threaten the sundering of the denomination from the world Church of Jesus Christ.
· The assembly recommends re-writing the historic Heidelberg Catechism by truncating a quotation from Scripture (1 Cor. 6:9) in order to remove reference to homosexual behavior as sinful.
· The assembly has asked the church once again to overturn historic, Biblical standards of sexual holiness for those being ordained. Previous authoritative interpretations about sexuality and ordination standards have been rendered void. Presbyteries will be asked to delete the “fidelity in marriage, chastity in singleness” clause of G-6.0106b.
· The assembly has authorized creating a special fund to battle in civil courts congregations which cannot in good conscience continue to stay in the PC(USA). Such legal action includes not only disputes over property but, as in the Londonderry case, litigation against elders. Donations will be sought. However, we are hopeful that the General Assembly’s strong approval of a resolution encouraging presbyteries to initiate and communicate a gracious process for dismissal will decrease a rush to civil court on all sides.
· The assembly has misunderstood and disrespected all three religions in its resolutions about Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The assembly calls upon these religions to celebrate religious holidays together: as if a good Muslim could celebrate the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ at Christmas, as if a good Jew could look to the crucifixion on Good Friday for atonement, as if a good Christian could consecrate himself or herself during Ramadan to a Unitarian God who is not the gracious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Triune God.
· The assembly declined asking the church to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman (Mt. 19: 4-5). Nevertheless, a civil marriage between 2 men was performed by a PC(USA) minister at the More Light General Assembly gathering. Those charged with defending our constitution have remained silent on this breach of ordination vows.
We find these actions repugnant and call upon the denomination to reject them heartily.
Meanwhile, the New Wineskins Association of Churches continues to hold to a vision of a church grounded in:
· shared, clear essential theological tenets based on historic Biblical faith
· shared ethical imperatives derived from Scripture
· relationships of mutual accountability and support
· a polity designed for missional service.
Seeing this reminded me that I missed the Heidelberg Catechism story amid everything else going on this week. For a good wrap-up on that one, see Classical Presbyterian and the official news story. The NWA summary is a good one, though it could be a lot longer (calling for “investigation” of the EPC, endorsing the Amman Call, brushing aside calls for balance on abortion, etc.). But I think they hit the nail on the head in a most succinct way in summing up this GA: “theologically unhinged.”
(Hat tip: Steve Bryant.)