The PCUSA’s Heartland Presbytery recently passed several overtures having to do with gay marriage and ordination, sending them along to this summer’s General Assembly. Loren Golden of Overland Park, Kansas wrote to the Layman Online about them, and I found them on the Heartland Web site. One of them, seeking to amend G-6.0106b and G-14.0450 (on ordination and ordination preparation, respectively) caught my eye. The striking thing is in the rationale:
The opening paragraphs of the Form of Government are a powerful statement of the fundamental Christian and Reformed affirmation that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In support of this primary affirmation, Chapter I of the Form of Government calls Christians to attend to the Scriptures, insofar as they set forth “Christ’s will for the Church,” and Chapter II identifies the church’s confessions as its guides, subordinate to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in Scripture alone. Our church thus has bound itself to a hierarchy of authority in which we are to obey Jesus Christ its Head, and, the Scriptures as the authoritative witness to Him, and then the confessions, to the extent that they accurately bear witness to Christ’s will. This fundamental hierarchy of authority is accurately and eloquently reflected in the first three of the constitutional questions, the assent to which is required of each candidate for ordination and/or installation.
Although the hierarchy of the church’s authority is clear, it is subverted by the current language of G-6.0106b, which substitutes for our obedience to Christ two concepts that are foreign to Reformed understanding: “obedience” to Scripture and “conformity” to the confessions. We do not confess, “Scripture is Lord” nor “the Confessions are Lord.” Instead, we boldly confess that “Christ is Lord!” The proposed amendment would substitute new language, which (1) reflects the church’s historical understanding of where its authority is to be found, and (2) reaffirms the church’s reliance on the examination of candidates by its governing bodies as the principal means by which to ensure the commitment of its ordained officers to the duties of faith. The amendment additionally would insert appropriate language to ensure that each such examination would include discussion of the constitutional questions and the governing body’s determination of the candidate’s readiness to accept their principles and faithfully live by them to the extent any of us is able.
In order to be able to rely on Jesus Christ as its Head and as its chief guide in all of life, the church must shed any human-made, subordinate source of authority that would bind its ability to follow where our Savior leads. [Emphasis added.]
Translation: having fully embraced the Benny Hinn* model of revelation, Heartland Presbytery believes that both the Scriptures and the church’s confessions need to be “shed” or set aside so that they are free to make up any theological, ethical, or pastoral stuff they want, and be able to claim that they are doing so in order to “follow where our Savior leads,” even if the Bible, in particular, indicates that He would sooner throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple than march off the cliff the presbytery wants to plunge from.
*Benny Hinn, a Word of Faith preacher, has repeatedly claimed “revelation knowledge” that directly contradicts the witness of Scripture. For instance, he has claimed that each Person of the Holy Trinity has His own individual spirit, soul, and body, and that Jesus took on Satan’s nature when the sin of the world was placed on Him. Hinn and Heartland are talking about different issues, but the methodology is the same.