I retired four years ago after 39 years as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC). This naturally put me out of the loop for a while with much of what goes on nationally in our church. But my vantage point has improved due to a year of frequent online meetings with more than a dozen PCC ministers from British Columbia to the Maritimes. We are part of the recently formed PSALT organization. The acronym stands for "Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth". I am deeply concerned for the church that we share in common, and I hope that you are, too. If not, this article will further your awareness of developments within the PCC.
Since the 1980s, a persistent group within the PCC has continued to lobby for the acceptance, promotion, and celebration of homosexuality at the level of marriage and ordination. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it is now coming to a head in the PCC. Having only organized in the fall of 2015, PSALT is late in engaging this issue. PSALT is a national group which aims at building the Presbyterian Church into a thoroughly biblical and reformed expression of our Christian discipleship and witness. We seek to preserve the biblical, doctrinal, and personal unity that we all once valued in the PCC. We have designated representatives in most presbyteries and it is a growing movement.
If you disagree with me on this issue, God will be the final judge between us, and I'm good with that. My friendship and respect for you will remain, but this article reflects how I am compelled to act out my faith in Christ.
What have I seen as I look at the culture's impact on our church?
The initial issue of homosexual ordination/marriage within society has become obsolete. It has morphed into one of "identity" which is now being reworked into a militant promotion of "gender neutrality", the obliteration of the personally obvious and doctrinally critical biblical identities of male and female. Something is broken.
For the PCC to accede to the demands that the culture is placing upon it would require our setting aside Scripture as the sole authority for faith and life, for the Bible nowhere endorses homosexual activity – nor lying, greed, adultery, etc., for that matter – but clearly condemns all. If the PCC decides to endorse and celebrate the phenomenon of the sexual confusion now so rampant in our culture, it would separate us from Scripture, and it is our adherence to Scripture that defines where and what the church is. We would also be set adrift from our biblically-based doctrinal standards such as the Westminster Confession and Living Faith, and alienate us from our international sister church partners.
What kind of responses have I seen and heard this past year from individuals and sessions regarding the leadership of PSALT in the PCC? There is anger at PSALT: "Why would you oppose what is so obviously acceptable?" There is bewilderment: "We are okay here at St. Andrew's, and we don't wish to deal with this." There is hope: "Can't we all just get along together?" There is sacrifice: "I will be (or my congregation will be) leaving the PCC if this passes General Assembly." And there is also relief: "I am so glad PSALT is there."
It would be naive of us to think that the systemic brokenness that has befallen the United Church, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church could not happen to us. Even a small split in our now precarious national church would have a serious impact on Presbyterians Sharing, the Pension Plan, and Church Offices at 50 Wynford Drive. It will affect your congregation. I want to make you aware of the threat to your church, to encourage your prayers for the PCC, and to motivate you to take appropriate personal action as the Spirit leads you. Yes, I'll even come and speak at your church or else find someone closer to go.
Our role as Canadian Presbyterians is not to be as so many churches have become – "chaplains to the culture" – but to be fearless, prophetic voices proclaiming the good news of new life and eternal life through Jesus Christ as Lord. Scripture teaches us that our true identity is found when we are in Christ, and when it is, we experience what I have personally experienced and seen in so many others, and of which Paul writes so much: the Christian life is transformational.
Peachland, British Columbia
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Sure, I'll come and speak at your church – or find someone closer to come.