Orthodoxy takes flight

This blog represents the thoughts of the author. While they may reflect the theological position of The Renewal Fellowship, they should not be seen as an official statement.

You don’t have to be an aircraft geek to appreciate the awe-inspiring majesty and power of a large passenger plane as it passes overhead on its final approach.

On Sept. 28 at approximately 9:15 a.m., I had just arrived at Vaughan Community Church and was standing near the entrance when one of these behemoths appeared in the sky. My FlightRadar24 app (yes, I’m a geek) revealed that it was an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. It was on its final approach, approximately 4,000 feet above me.

Even at 300 km/h, the beast appeared to be barely moving. It’s that big.

Someone living or working nearby might ask, “So what?” and point out that Emirates flight EK241 from Dubai to Pearson arrives just about every day of the week at the same time.

True. But the flight path isn’t exactly the same every time. Even if the same runway is used, the approach can be several hundred metres to the north or south. On that day – as participants in the first truly-national gathering of evangelicals in the PCC post-General Assembly were starting to arrive or making their own final approach – it was directly overhead.

I took it as a sign.

The gathering was named “A place to stand.” It could also have been called “A place to take a stand.”

Or perhaps a place to take flight.

As the summer of our theological discontent turned to autumn, we were standing and being counted. And we are finding our renewed wings.

At Vaughan Community Church on June 19 and Sept. 28 – as well as Etobicoke on July 22, Montreal on Aug. 5, Moncton on Sept. 21 and Kelowna on Oct. 18 – those who stand for orthodoxy showed up as a sign of solidarity. The group photo of those who attended VCC – see it at www.pccaplacetostand.com — reveals a glorious diversity: male, female, Anglo-Saxon, Francophone, Arabic, Korean, Hungarian and Chinese.

Although the action which unites them is about sexuality and the redefining of marriage, something deeper is at the core.

“This is not about sex, but a referendum on the Word of God . . . [whether we have] a high view of the Word of God,” one retired minister told the gathering. “This is the place to take a stand.”

And so they did – more than 250 participants representing dozens of presbyteries and congregations agreeing by consensus to allow the Presbytery of Eastern Han Ca to take the lead and outline “some next definitive steps” and work with a special committee “specifically charged with providing leadership to navigate the issue of human sexuality vis-a-vis our presbytery, denomination, and other traditional individuals, groups, churches, presbyteries who wish to work together as one united group.”

This blog represents the thoughts of the author, Andy Cornell. While they may reflect the theological position of The Renewal Fellowship, they should not be seen as an official statement.

It was a response to the many questions raised from the floor. How do we unite and work together? What does one voice mean? Do we need a new confession? What will we do to protect the orthodox voice if the remits are carried through the Barrier Act approval process? And what if the remits fail, then what? Will we gather once again in January?

While deliberations on these and other questions takes place, we continue to stand and be counted in our presbyteries. At writing, 6 out of 45 courts have voted on the remits, which propose to legalize lesbian-gay marriage and allow congregations to ordain elders and call ministers who are married to same-sex partners. Three are in favour, three opposed. Some results (“No” to both remits in Peace River and Kamloops, “yes” in Edmonton-Lakeland) were not a surprise. Others, such as London on Oct. 8 (27-4 in favour) and Montreal on Oct. 15 (two-thirds opposed) were closely watched.

Complete results are updated regularly on the Renewal Fellowship website.

It’s too early to see a trend, let alone predict the outcome. We’ll have a better idea by the end of November, when up to two-thirds of presbyteries may have voted. Even then, a good number of the larger presbyteries – Toronto East and West, Oak Ridges and Waterloo-Wellington – won’t be voting until the New Year.

Continue to pray that enough presbyters will see Scripture and reason and vote against the remits. Go to www.renewal-fellowship.ca and click on “Response to the Remits” for some encouragement.

Meanwhile, as presbyters discuss and vote, orthodoxy prepares its new wings.

Like the mega jet which passed over VCC, we may appear to be moving slowly, but up close, it’s a different story. At full throttle and filled with people from many nations, it’s a taste of the Kingdom to come. We are discussing, witnessing, working, and praying at whatever velocity the Holy Spirit chooses.

While aircraft may be marvels of aeronautical engineering, they still require trained and experienced pilots to fly. The church is the Body of Christ but requires anointed, knowledgeable, and faithful believers acting in obedience. No matter who’s in the church cockpit, the Holy Spirit needs to be in control, or it won’t leave the ground.

The airbus metaphor isn’t perfect. The A380 may be a perennial money loser and will cease production in 2021, to be replaced by makes and models that make more economic sense. But the concept remains: passenger flight isn’t about to die. The church continues to form and be reformed. Congregations are planted, they grow, mature, and die, then produce seeds for something new.

The Spirit of Christ has given the church its wings. Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His message – to admit to our sinful nature and surrender our entire beings to the Father’s loving, holy ways while loving one another – remains unchanged. This is orthodoxy.

Imagine all these post-Assembly gatherings of kindred souls throughout the nation as regional design teams who have united in submission to the chief engineer as we search for a common narrative, a new authentic confession.

Slow, steady, powerful and united – together, we will take flight. And it will be awe inspiring.