Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Submission to Lordship Means Actually Obeying Specific Commands and Following Specific Guidelines

Night before last, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) amended its constitution to omit language requiring clergy to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” This previous language has been substituted with a phrase ostensibly affirming "the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life" and asserting "Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.” Lest anyone should imagine that nothing has really changed, the Office of the General Assembly for the PCUSA issued a churchwide letter that stated, in part, "persons in a same-gender relationship may be considered for ordination and/or installation as deacons, elders, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament within the PC(USA)." But later this same letter asserted, "It is Jesus Christ who calls individuals to ordained ministries, and all those who are called to ordained office continue to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all and Head of the church."

Notice the highly confused nature of these "progressive" changes.

The PCUSA wants to affirm that Jesus is "Lord of all and Head of the church." But Jesus exercises His authority over the Church by prescribing in Scripture points of doctrine, the pattern of government, principles of gathered worship, and procedures for church discipline to be followed in the local congregations. In allowing and approving members, and even clergy, who live in "same-gender [sexual] relationship[s]" the PCUSA is refusing to exercise church discipline, thus short-circuiting the authority of Jesus and rebelling against His headship over the church. As Southern Baptist theologian John L. Dagg famously noted, "when discipline leaves a church, Christ leaves with it;" Dagg said this because those congregations that refuse to practice church discipline are regularly grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and thus cutting off their communion with Christ. No matter what the PCUSA claims, if they will not call sinners to repentance, they do not have Christ as their Head.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given, through His apostles, very specific guidelines for selecting the leadership of His Church (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). The "husband of one wife" and "above reproach" statements in these verses, along with other New Testament principles and examples, led directly to the old PCUSA requirement that clergy must be required to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” The PCUSA has now rejected this language, yet they affirm "It is Jesus Christ who calls individuals to ordained ministries." But how will the PCUSA determine if a person has indeed been called to ministry by Jesus if they ignore the guidelines Jesus has established for recognizing shepherds of the flock?

The experience of the PCUSA should provide a warning for all congregations. Most people reading this probably go to conservative churches that would never think of ordaining people to clergy who acknowledge living in "same-gender [sexual] relationship[s]," but how many of our churches fail to practice church discipline? How many of our churches, when choosing leadership, barely consider the guidelines in the New Testament? Do our churches claim that Jesus is "Head over the church," yet fail to submit to His authority?



Blogger Whitehawk said...

Ah, it pains me to see this formerly respectable denomination embrace such a harmful practice. When a church embraces a harmful practice it has surely left the One whose whole purpose for coming was to save us from such harm.

Yes, it is true we don't practice church discipline enough for there are other harmful practices that go unaddressed and so by negligence people go on harming themselves, others and the cause of Christ.

12:46 AM  

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