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The Liberal Takeover of American Protestanism
Crossed Fingers: How Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church ^ | 1996 | Gary North

Posted on 08/11/2003 10:17:50 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen

In the wake of the apostasy of a majority of the Episcopalian leadership I have been posting small portions of this book here and there. I thought a longer excerpt might be in order.

What follows is an excerpt from Gary North's "Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Took Over the Northern Presbyterian Church."

This book draws a critical conclusion - that a similar strategy was used in the left's hostile takeover of every major Protestant denomination, and every major American cultural institution. America's worldview made a catastrophic shift from Judeo-Christian to evolutionary by the mid-20th century.

He also argues (and I agree) that liberals never take over a denomination and raise it to new heights of evangelism, discipleship, and acts of service. They take over a denomination and run it into the ground. The membership rolls tell the story. God sends the people where the truth is proclaimed with great faith and fervor.

I cannot endorse all of Gary North's theology, but the research is good and the analysis is excellent.

*****EXCERPT BEGINS HERE*****

NOTE TO THE READER

The history of the rise, progress, and peculiar character of American Presbyterianism, has for some time been considered a great desideratum by many of the members of our denomination. There is certainly no other religious community, embracing such numbers and being so long in existence, who are exposed to the imputation of having practised such gross negligence in failing to preserve authentic documents of their proceedings, and who still remain in such entire ignorance respecting their own history, and the founders and fathers of their church. - William Hill (1839)

Rev. Hill's lament is more valid today than it was then, since an additional century and a half have passed by. We still need a comprehensive multi-volume history of mainline American Presbyterianism and its numerous spin-off denominations. I use the word "we" advisedly. The market does not want it, no matter how much "we" need it. So, "we" are unlikely to get it. Yet we are fast approaching the fourth century of American Presbyterianism. Something is wrong.

The last major scholarly history of American Presbyterianism was written by Charles Hodge. His two-volume Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church (1839) remains the most detailed history of eighteenth-century American Presbyterianism. It was as a challenge to that book that Rev. Hill wrote his 224-page response. Hodge correctly insisted that the Constitutional History was not a comprehensive history of the Church; it was a history of the national Synod. Church historian George Hutchinson relates that Hodge told his son A. A. Hodge that writing that book was the most difficult project of his career. No other scholar has attempted to write an equally comprehensive, heavily footnoted follow-up volume that picks up the story where Hodge left off: 1788, the revision of the Westminster Confession. There were several popular Presbyterian histories written in the late nineteenth century, but no scholarly history.(2) The closest thing to a critical history is Robert Ellis Thompson's history, published in 1895: exactly one century ago.

Pamphlets for Pastors

Rev. Hutchinson is the author of a detailed history of a denomination that no longer exists, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES). That small denomination merged in 1982 with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Hutchinson wants to write a scholarly history of the PCA. In his unsuccessful attempt to raise funds for this project, one pastor told him: "If you can boil the story down into a pamphlet, I'll read it." Such is the present intellectual condition of American Presbyterianism, which a century ago was known as the most intellectually militant Protestant denomination. Presbyterianism has fallen on soft times.

I did not write this book for that anonymous pastor or his sleepwalking peers. Any pastor who cares so little about the history of the Church to which he is covenanted by ministerial oath must believe that, to the extent that he is representative of other men of his caliber and commitment, he will not be remembered. His work on earth will leave no earthly trace, and even if it does, no one like him will ever read about it. He who ignores the past expects to be ignored in the future. He is therefore unlikely to commit the personal resources necessary to have a significant effect on the future.

Crossed Fingers is a monograph, fat though it is. It is not a history of Presbyterianism; it is a study of how the liberals captured one Presbyterian denomination: the main one. The story I have written here has not previously been told. There are books on the Presbyterian conflict. There are doctoral dissertations on it. But chronicles are not enough: to know that the liberals captured the Northern Presbyterian Church. Something was missing: a detailed study of how the liberals did it.

This book partially fills the gap. It was a large gap; that is why this is a very large book. Yet this book only touches the highlights. Furthermore, there is no comparable book for any of the other mainline Protestant denominations, most of which have succumbed to the liberals' strategy of subversion. This void points to the present intellectual condition of American Protestantism. One thing is sure: conservative American Protestantism is not future-oriented. In this sense, it is lower class.(3) Lower-class people and movements do not shape history; they are carried along in the back of the bus in order to be milked by those future-oriented people and movements that do shape history.

I wrote this book for Christians who are tired of being milked, bilked, and forced to ride silently in the back of humanism's bus. If this is you, keep reading. Understand, however, that you are part of a small remnant: a person who is willing to pick up a book about one aspect of Presbyterian Church history. The final remnant will be even smaller: those who finish reading this book. Few are called; even fewer are chosen. But cheer up; there are words of comfort available: "Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! . . . . The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction" (Jer. 15:10a-11).

FOREWORD

Almost every contemporary proposal to bring freedom into the church is simply a proposal to bring tyranny into the world. For freeing the church now does not mean freeing it in all directions. It means freeing that peculiar set of dogmas called scientific, dogmas of monism, of pantheism, or of Arianism, or of necessity. And every one of these . . . can be shown to be the natural ally of oppression. - G. K. Chesterton (1924)

In 1924, Chesterton converted to Roman Catholicism and wrote Orthodoxy, which was his testimony against modernism. He understood that the most dangerous of modernism's heresies are to a great extent merely extensions of heretical theologies that were rejected long ago by the early Church. Chesterton's insight here was that theology has implications for society. Heretical theology leads to political tyranny. Bad theology produces political oppression. The twentieth century stands as evidence of his contention.

Modernism is another gospel. This was Chesterton's contention; it was also the contention of his Protestant contemporary, John Gresham(2) Machen.(3) Both of them did their best to challenge modernism. Both of them wrote popular books for Christians in the pews. They died within a few months of each other. Chesterton did not live long enough to see the Roman Church engulfed by modernism; Vatican II began a quarter century after his death. Machen, however, did see modernism triumphant in his denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Seven months before he died, modernists persuaded the broad evangelical majority of that denomination that Machen had become disobedient to Church authority, and that for the sake of the peace, he should be removed from office.

'Twas a Famous Victory

Modernism has achieved a comprehensive cultural victory in our day. This has been a barren victory. Modernism has pushed the West to its moral and epistemological limits, especially the former. The crucial divisive issues in a civilization are ethical: right vs. wrong. Man's primary problems are moral, not intellectual. While it is no doubt true that the modern world is in a flight from truth,(4) this is because it is in a flight from God, His permanent law, and, above all, His permanent negative sanctions: hell and the lake of fire.

Modernism seeks solutions to man's ethical problems apart from an appeal to an authoritative God who has revealed Himself in the Bible in such a way that this revelation can be authoritatively assembled by men in terms of propositional truths. Without a permanent God to provide permanent standards, whirl becomes king. Modernism faithfully serves this king, though usually in the name of evolving linear progress. But in seeking historical progress autonomously, modern man has achieved its inversion, alienation.(5)

Because modernism has invaded every area of life, including the churches, whirl's dry rot of relativism has undermined those institutions that might otherwise act to prevent the looming crisis. This book is the story of how modernism invaded and then captured one denomination: the Northern Presbyterian Church.

An Old Problem\

What Christians should recognize is that this has happened before, though in slow motion: the breakdown of classical civilization. The heresies that plagued the early Church were extensions of ancient Greek philosophy.(6) As faith in Greek moral philosophy steadily broke down, so did the civilization that had been constructed in terms of its categories.(7) The Roman world was viewed by its intellectuals as the product of either godless impersonal fate or godless impersonal chance, i.e., fatalism or anarchy.(8) The only way out of this philosophical dilemma seemed to be the assertion of an eternal tension between them: part fate, part chance, no final resolution. This tension we call dualism or dialecticism. It undermined Greek philosophy as thoroughly as it has now undermined modernism. The pantheistic monism of Greek continuity--the great chain of being(9)--was offset philosophically by the futile Greek dialecticism of form (idea) vs. matter. Similarly, modernism's materialistic monism--the world as mere matter in motion--is offset philosophically by the equally futile dialecticism of Kant's phenomenal/noumenal (science/freedom) dialecticism.(10) Matter vs. mind, fate vs. chance, law vs. change, necessity vs. freedom, science vs. personality, determinism vs. responsibility: modern man's updated versions of ancient Greek antinomies plague him every bit as much as they plagued the ancients. The relativist historian Carl Becker raised the issue in a rhetorical statement that was really not all that rhetorical: "What is man that the electron should be mindful of him!"(11) When men seek freedom and meaning in anything but the self-revelation of God in the Bible, they hit philosophical brick walls. And every once in a while, the crash takes down a whole civilization. Ours may be one of them. We are now facing a potential breakdown of monumental proportions.(12)

The answer to Greek rationalism is also the answer to modern rationalism: the biblical doctrines of the Trinity, the Creator/creature distinction, the bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ in history, and God's declaration of "Not guilty!" to His people on the judicial basis of this death and resurrection. This is the Bible's theme of creation-fall-redemption. Here is the answer presented in the creeds and councils of the early Church. God is in control, not man. God has sent a redeemer in history. This redeemer is not the State.

What Happened to Presbyterianism?

In 1924, the year Orthodoxy appeared, the conservatives' candidate won the Moderatorship of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church for the first and last time during what has come to be called the Presbyterian conflict. That conflict ended in June of 1936 with the defeat of the conservatives. On June 15, for the last time, an article on the Presbyterian conflict appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The headline announced: "Barring of 3 Philadelphia Pastors Brings Walkout by Presbyterians." The same page announced: "G. K. Chesterton, Noted Author, Dies." Somehow, these parallels seem fitting.

Move ahead two decades. In 1955, a book was published with the title, What Presbyterians Believe. I can think of no book with a more misleading title, given its date of its publication. It was a study of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647). It was written by a Calvinist minister, theologian, and philosopher, Gordon H. Clark. Clark was a member of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, which three years later would merge with the far larger mainline denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), at which time Clark left the denomination. The United Presbyterian Church in 1955 was drifting into liberalism. It had been dabbling with liberalism for a quarter of a century. It had initiated discussions on a possible merger with the larger denomination in 1930, but then had voted not to follow through after the PCUSA voted for the plan in 1934. It was obvious in 1930 that the PCUSA's liberals had brought the conservatives under control. Nevertheless, from 1948 to 1958, Clark subordinated himself to the jurisdiction of men who did not believe in Calvinism, and who proved it in 1958 when they voted to join the PCUSA. Had Clark been more honest in selecting a title for his book, he would have called it What a Handful of Presbyterians Believe, or What Presbyterian Officers Swear They Believe, But Rarely Do, or even What Presbyterians Believe in the Small Denomination I Abandoned as Hopeless in 1948 When I Joined This One.(13) But he didn't. Instead, he pretended in public that he was not a minority voice, that he was not under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Presbyterians who did not believe. In this, he was not alone.

Today, there are millions of confessionally faithful but ecclesiastically compromised Church members and thousands of compromised pastors who are in a condition similar to Clark's in 1955. If anything, they are in a much worse condition: the mainline Protestant churches have become much more liberal since 1955. So has the Roman Catholic Church. Only the Southern Baptist Convention has reversed course: the most remarkable ecclesiastical reversal of the past three centuries.(14)

Church Government and Theology

America in the twentieth century has offered a three-fold ecclesiastical development.

1. Theologically conservative, creedal, hierarchical denominations grow more liberal as they grow larger and wealthier, thereby attracting the services of pastors who have been educated in state-funded and state-accredited colleges and universities.

2. Theologically liberal hierarchical denominations grow smaller as their members discover what their well-educated pastors actually believe.

3. Theologically conservative, non-creedal, non-hierarchical churches enjoy most of the growth. Their lack of formal academic requirements for the ministry inoculates them against the worst features of liberalism. Their freedom from hierarchical control allows the members to fund the theology they prefer, which is rarely liberal.

This has created an institutional dilemma for the leaders of theologically conservative, creedal, hierarchical churches. To grow, they apparently have only three choices: to go soft creedally, to go independent, or both. They must position themselves creedally somewhere in between Cotton Mather and The Christian Century. In no denomination has this dilemma been revealed more clearly than in American Presbyterianism, but it has happened in all of the large Protestant denominations.

Are you a well-catechized Presbyterian? If so, you are the member of a tiny minority group. People such as you have been in one of the following situations since 1960: (1) members of a large, wealthy, but shrinking denomination that has been taken over by liberals; (2) members of a medium-sized, officially Calvinistic, and growing denomination that has been taken over at the top by people who are more concerned with Church growth than theology, and who do not make it sufficiently difficult to penetrate by Arminians, neo-evangelicals, Scofieldians, and Baptists who happen to sprinkle babies and who want in on the deal;(15) (3) members of a tiny, hard-pressed Calvinist denomination that Arminians and liberals do not regard as worth the effort to take over. Putting it graphically, you're governed by ministers who believe the editorials in (1) The Christian Century, (2) Christianity Today, or (3) a denominational magazine printed on non-slick paper with no color pictures inside. It boils down to this: you've been sold out to liberals; you're being sold out to neo-evangelicals who will later sell you out to liberals; or you're not yet worth buying.

What you need is membership in a large and rapidly growing Presbyterian Church that is so costly to penetrate by neo-evangelicals that the liberals might as well concentrate on taking over the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.(16) Sorry; this ecclesiastical product is not only not available at the present time, it is not even in the early prototype stage.

What should a Presbyterian prototype look like? You cannot begin to answer this until you know what it had better not look like: the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., in 1920.(17)

Rotten Wood

This book is about a conflict between two mighty religions, Christianity and humanism. It is also about a third religious tradition that was caught in the middle, whose adherents were forced by circumstances to decide which side to support: experientialism-pietism. Some of them were Christians; others were humanists. This book is about a number of confusions, both theological and institutional, and their subsequent clarification. It discusses heroes and villains, and it acknowledges that the vast majority of the participants were somewhere in between. This is true of every turning point in history except the rebellion of Adam and Eve, in which there were no innocent bystanders. It is the story of a turning point in the history of the United States.

This is a history of the liberals' strategy of infiltration and conquest of the Northern Presbyterian Church. A similar strategy was carried out in the public schools, the judiciary, the colleges, and the media, but this ecclesiastical battle was the most important battle of the war. It had to be won. Why? Because the fundamental covenantal issues of life are always at bottom theological, not political, educational, or economic. The public testimony of the Presbyterian Church was by far the most theologically rigorous testimony in the country--indeed, in the world. Humanists had to silence this denomination, for it was too influential. The capture of the most theologically articulate large conservative Protestant denomination in the United States was modernism's best-publicized success story of the era. The strategy the modernists used to take over the Presbyterians was used, with modifications, to capture the other large denominations.

This book is more than a history; it is a study in sociological patterns: how institutions and groups adjust in order to survive through history. This is why I focus on a few representative figures. I agree with C. Wright Mills: "No social study that does not come back to the problems of biography, of history and their intersections within a society has completed its intellectual journey."(18)

This book is also a study in what could be called ecclesiastical entomology: bugs. Specifically, it is a study of ecclesiastical termites: liberals. By 1921, these voracious termites had eaten away so much of the Presbyterian Church that Princeton Seminary's greatest living theologian, Warfield, on his deathbed called the entire denomination rotten wood.(19)

Beyond Presbyterianism

I wrote this book to be more than a monograph on one denomination's history. It is a representative case study of a much wider phenomenon. It provides an introduction to the whole question of theological liberalism in the churches, and how this came about. Church historian William Hutchison has described well the subject matter of this book: the presence and then the triumph of theological liberals in a denomination in which a large majority of the members did not regard themselves as liberals. Hutchison writes:

The Protestant establishment can in fact be understood as a "broad church" that held together, and exercised whatever cultural authority it did enjoy, precisely because it retained the adherence, at all levels, of many besides liberals. While it is probably true that few who called themselves fundamentalists were able to remain comfortably in these churches after about 1930, all the evidence indicates that "liberal" was rarely a preferred term outside the theological seminaries and the more sophisticated periodicals. (During the time of neo-orthodox reaction against conventional liberalism--that is, between 1930 and 1960--such terminology was a bit suspect in those precincts as well.) Most establishment leaders and people, if forced to use limiting terms, were likely to designate their own positions as evangelical, confessional, progressive, or--calling on that all-time favorite among weasel words--moderate.(20)

I write for those Christians who fully recognize that in this, the final decade of the second millennium after the birth of Jesus Christ, His Church is in a full-scale war against an implacable enemy: humanism. There can be no permanent cease-fire. This book is written for those Christians who understand this and who are ready to act accordingly. Any other reader is entitled to come along for the ride, but he is not my target. Ethically self-conscious Christians are my targeted audience. Their needs and, more to the point, their vulnerability are my concern. There are still conservative Protestant denominations, and similar liberal strategies are still in effect. The problem is, the conservatives, then as now, have had no strategy.

This book is a strategy manual. It is a manual tracing how an earlier institutional battle was lost. It is not written in the spirit of detached academic inquiry. It is written in the spirit of institutional conquest: to recapture lost ground from the spiritual heirs of the invaders. When the invaders surrender cultural territory, we will regain it--not inside the four walls of liberal churches but in the culture at large. As for liberal churches today, let the dead bury the dead. Large brick churches in declining sections of town are not worth re-capturing. The heating and cooling bills alone would strap us.

Had it not been for the defection of earlier generations of Christians, we would not be in the place we are today: looking in from the outside on institutions that once belonged to God and His people rather than to the covenant-breakers who now occupy positions of institutional authority. But their authority is now fading. The flow of funds--a primary mark of authority--has begun to flow elsewhere.

So has political power. From the foundation of the Federal (later National) Council of Churches in 1908, theological liberals exhorted theological conservatives to get involved in social action and politics. Now that conservatives have begun to do this, great is the anguish inside the hallowed halls of liberalism. God has granted the liberals their request, and like the Israelites after the quail feast in the wilderness (Num. 11), the liberals are now paying dearly for it. They do not have the votes. The Christian Right has the votes. The action today is in places like Colorado Springs and Orlando, not 475 Riverside Drive, New York City.

Liberals committed their strategic resources to capturing mainline Protestant churches at the peak of these churches' influence, 1920 to 1940. They have seen this influence wither away since 1960. They bought close to the top of the market and are now hanging on for eternal life to their portfolio, hoping against hope for a recovery. It has been a primary bear market for a generation, and today looks weaker than ever. The Protestant Establishment peaked with Dwight Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles (d. 1959). It has been all downhill since then.

Liberals still seek to recoup their losses however they can. If your church has assets, it is a potential target. If it also has the same judicial and educational structure that the Presbyterian Church had in 1869, it is surely a target. Your denomination has a large neon sign flashing brightly: "Come and get us!" Somebody will. In all likelihood, the subversion is already in progress.

I know, I know: "It can't happen to us." That's what they all say.

What Reading This Book Can Do for You

Do you want to recognize well in advance the tell-tale signs that your Church is moving away from orthodoxy toward theological liberalism? This book provides you with guide markers.

Do you want to find out what the most vulnerable and undefended parts of your Church are? This book identifies them.

Do you want to know how to patch up these undefended parts? This book shows you both how and how not to do this.

Do you want to spot the catch phrases of those who are actively infiltrating your Church or selling it out? This book provides them.

Do you want to understand the strategy of subversion that proved successful in the most spectacular Protestant takeover in modern American history? This book explains it in detail.

Do you want to know how those accomplices outside the Presbyterian Church cooperated with infiltrators inside to undermine and then capture the Church? This book reveals this mystery.

Do you want to identify the bait which the subversives used to hook the Presbyterian Church? This book shows you what to look for in your own denomination.

Do you want to know which deeply rooted Presbyterian ideals led to the institutional defeat of those who held them? This book identifies them.

Do you want to know what never works in any program to reform a Church's hierarchy? This book shows you how to avoid volunteering for a suicide mission.

Do you want to know what terrifies the infiltrators in the early stages of their invasion? This book shows you.

Do you want to know what terrifies them after they have completed the take-over at the top? Learn the secret in this book.

Do you want to know why the liberals' strategy of subversion always backfires on them in the next generation, or even sooner? This book shows you.

Do you want to learn the details of the strategy used by the conservatives who recaptured the Southern Baptist Convention, 1977-1990? (For that, you're going to have to pay more. There are limits on my generosity.)(21)

Do you know why liberals and their queasy conservative allies will give this book bad reviews or no reviews at all? (You do unless you have an IQ lower than Forrest Gump's.)

Conclusion

Unread diet books on the shelf will not help a person to lose weight. Neither will a diet book that he reads while munching Fritos with bean dip. So, before you proceed any further, let me warn you:

No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply [it happen], after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30).

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass [mirror]: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was (James 1:22-24).

Now, get out your yellow highlighter, your pen, and some note cards. It is time to begin stage one: reconnaissance. It will take you about 50 hours to complete this initial mission. That is a lot of time, and time is money. Not many people will make this large an investment. The problem is, whenever good people refuse to prepare themselves for the ecclesiastical battles that lie ahead, righteousness loses by default. This book offers a lot of evidence to prove this statement.

When you have finished, start thinking about what a revamped ecclesiastical prototype should look like. That will take you a lot more than 50 hours. Should some faithful Presbyterian tell you that no revamped prototype is necessary, ask him to sketch his plan for retrofitting one of the three existing Presbyterian models: liberal, neo-evangelical, or culturally invisible.

(Excerpt) Read more at freebooks.com ...


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This is long, but I believe worth it. The bold sections are my additions. I left out some parts of the Foreward. I did not include the footnotes as that would have made a lengthy post truly mammoth. The book is free, and I would recommend that everyone follow the link and read it fo themselves.

It is my hope that the above excerpt from Dr. North's excellent book will spark discussion on the current state of the American Church.

Currently, the only Protestant denomination that has successfully turned itself from the left to the right are the Southern Baptists. I think this is because of their non-heirarchical nature. Though they pool missions dollars and money for seminaries, the hiring of staff and pastors is completely controlled by the local bodies. Therefore the grassroots stayed conservative even as the leadership trended left. This made it possible for the grassroots to take back the convention.

This last Sunday my family and I attended a Bible Church. Bible Churches are a relatively new phenomenon in American Protestanism: completely unaffiliated autonomous churches who have no denominational connection whatsoever. They are essentially a response to the liberalization of the Protestant church.

It occurred to me that these churches may have the best answer to liberalism. Since they fund their own missionaries and works of good service, liberals cannot take them over from the top down. In order for liberals to take over Bible churches they would have to do so one at a time, and that is virtually impossible.

What are your thoughts about this excerpt?

1 posted on 08/11/2003 10:17:50 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
bookmark for later reading
2 posted on 08/11/2003 10:21:17 AM PDT by ibheath (Born-again and grateful to God for it.)
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To: ibheath
bump.

3 posted on 08/11/2003 10:27:33 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
I have no time to read the excerpt but I belong to an evangelical Presbyterian Church and while I love the place and the pastoral staff is clearly Bible-focused and conservative on the right things I still have some concerns.

For example, they are pro-environment and think that buying a small car is a moral act.

They are a reflection of their generation but I think that some of these theological seminaries are on the liberal side, also.

4 posted on 08/11/2003 10:30:06 AM PDT by tom h
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To: Zack Nguyen
Francis Schaeffer was also concerned about this.

/http://www.rationalpi.com/theshelter/

http://www.francis-schaeffer.com/

5 posted on 08/11/2003 10:30:58 AM PDT by Fitzcarraldo
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To: Zack Nguyen
Thanks for posting this. Very interesting read.

Left the PCUSA many years ago, despite a good local congregation. Couldn't continue to have them taking our hard-earned tithes to "re-imagine God" in their own image. We have not returned to a denominational church since. Despite the protests of RC's and others, I have no reason to believe that the first church of Christians was anything other than non-denominational.

Having said that, I wish you the best in finding your new church home.

6 posted on 08/11/2003 10:30:59 AM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: tom h
I do not know where "pro-environment" would fall on Biblical orthodoxy, unless of course your pastor starts talking about "Mother Earth." It sounds like this is not the case.

You are probably right about the seminaries. I have been told that there are only 10 seminaries left in America that teach the Bible as fundamentally inerrant.
7 posted on 08/11/2003 10:38:16 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Fitzcarraldo
Yes he was! I have his "Complete Works" on my bookshelf, and have been slowly going through them.
8 posted on 08/11/2003 10:39:10 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: anniegetyourgun
Thank you very much! Is RC an Orthodox Presbyterian?
9 posted on 08/11/2003 10:39:57 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: anniegetyourgun
I'm an Elder at my church (PCUSA) and about a year ago we joined the confessing church movement, which is a move toward more traditional, conservative theology. The liberalization of PCUSA is not reflected in many congregations.
10 posted on 08/11/2003 10:41:15 AM PDT by doc30
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To: doc30
Does the confessing church movement send their $'s to the PCUSA still? Or do you line item certain areas? Or is it working from within to change the PCUSA?
11 posted on 08/11/2003 10:44:42 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
I am a confirmed catholic who has been attending a Presbyterian Church for a couple of years. My wife grew up in a Presbyterian church. I am thinking of joining, but I just have not committed to taking that leap. Perhaps I have been concerned that I do not really know what it is that I am joining.

I will read this book. Thanks.
12 posted on 08/11/2003 10:51:18 AM PDT by frithguild (Better living through technology)
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To: frithguild
I am a confirmed catholic who has been attending a Presbyterian Church for a couple of years... I am thinking of joining...

Why?

You'd give up the Eucharist -- the true Body and Blood of Christ -- for a mere “memorial”?

No Eucharist, no Jesus. No Jesus, no point in going to church. Any Catholic who doesn't believe in the Real Presence might as well sleep in on Sunday.

Praying for you,

13 posted on 08/11/2003 10:58:03 AM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: frithguild
This book can give you a macro historical view of the denomination, but only you can judge your individual congregation. I am glad to hear that you are attending church. Simply ask yourself if correct doctrine is being preached, if your money goes to reputable ministries, if the pastor and staff live morally upright lives and believe what they say. Finally, observe how/if God is working in your church. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you worship. As someone once said, find out where God is working and jump in.
14 posted on 08/11/2003 11:06:30 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
This is a problem I am dealing with as a member of PCUSA. We have a conservative, older pastor who is a good leader. I am scared to death as to what we will get from Columbia or Princeton when he retires in the next few years.

I wouldn't say that the church has become more liberal, I am just troubled by the cultural aspects it has absorbed- casual dress, contemporary music and a much more evangelical and emotional religious experience rather than a traditional intellegent approach to God.

As PCUSA luminaries like Frank Harrington and his contemporaries gradually die out and retire, it is apparent that those who replace them are very different in the pulpit. The seminaries are giving us New Coke instead of Coke, and the results have been negative in some of the denominations' largest churches.

Go to the PCUSA website where they keep the attendance records for Peachtree Presbyterian Church. After Dr. Harrington died, attendance dropped way off, followed by a steep decline in membership. This was one of the largest congregations in the nation.

http://apps.pcusa.org/chstats/index.html?ch_pin=22087

PCUSA is actually trying to allow God to reach everyone, in the tradition of John Knox. This includes all sinners, no matter what the sin. At the same time the church is sacrificing Knox's respect for and fear of God for greater mass appeal by allowing solemn tradition to be replaced by pop culture like casual dress, newer, hipper music and patently inoffensive sermons full of meaningless props.

Newer preachers generally tend to ignore or indirectly address the complex moral issues of today's society for fear of being offensive. That religion has become a reflection of culture in many ways in order to reach more souls is an interesting paradox. I think it has hurt the spread of Chrisianity more than it has helped.

This is my experience in Metro Atlanta. It is not limited to just the Presbyterian church. All of the newer mainline churches seem to have identical services and theology, with the execption being Roman Catholic, some newer PCA and EPC preachers(Presbyterian demoninations), and Southern Baptists. Any one else have any experiences to share?
15 posted on 08/11/2003 11:16:26 AM PDT by ruppertdog
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To: Zack Nguyen
"I do not know where "pro-environment" would fall on Biblical orthodoxy"

Check Genesis 2 (3?) where God declares that man is to be a steward of the earth's plenty. We are obligated to not waste the resources, as God's steward. And, our stewardship is not more important than countless other God-ordained laws.

Here's where the paradox begins:

Do I buy a small car to save fuel or a large car to protect my family? My family is more important than inert oil in the ground.

Do I purchase organically-grown food or that done by agribusiness? Well, the agribusiness food is far cheaper and less prone to spoilage (especially after irradiation). It will cure hunger in the third world far faster than liberals ever will.

Etc., etc. Being a good steward does not mean toeing the liberal line on the environment.

16 posted on 08/11/2003 11:16:30 AM PDT by tom h
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To: Zack Nguyen
My father in-law fell into liberalism due to his church hook line and sinker. I have noticed that he has partially removed his head out of the sand due to the war and liberals stand on homosexuality.
Before the war the local leader of the United Methodist Church in his city declared that he was a citizen of the world and had nothing against Iraq. That is a pretty bold statement for Socialism.
This statement made my father in-law open his eyes a bit as to just what what was going on within his own Church.
He has also noticed that liberals are full steam ahead with a lot of issues that he personally considers immoral.
The marriage of liberals and protestants is at a definite crossroads at this time.
17 posted on 08/11/2003 11:23:54 AM PDT by armymarinemom
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To: frithguild
Whatever congregation you choose, remember: The Church is the "body of christ', and christ has only one body. You are either a believer or you are not. Sadly, many "churches" are run by those that who are not by any scriptural definition christian. If you concentrate on scripture, you will find that it has the ability to self correct bad theology. The basic question that you must ask yourself is "Is the Bible truly the word of God?" Then find a church that teaches the word, not the opinions of men.
18 posted on 08/11/2003 11:23:55 AM PDT by D Rider
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To: Zack Nguyen
There are at least four seminaries in the Dallas - Fort Worth area that hold to inerrancy: Dallas Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Criswell College, and Christ For the Nations Institute. You could count the Southern Baptist seminaries in Kentucky and North Carolina in the inerrancy column. Ditto for the conservative Presbyterian seminaries, such as Covenant (St. Louis), Knox (Orlando, Florida), Greenville (South Carolina), Westminster (Pennsylvania and California), and Reformed (Mississippi). Also, there are conservative independent seminaries such as Denver Seminary ans seminaries run by denominaitons such as the Assemblies of God and the Nazarenes.
19 posted on 08/11/2003 11:26:09 AM PDT by Wallace T.
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To: CCWoody; RnMomof7; drstevej; Jean Chauvin; CARepubGal; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; nobdysfool; ...
Interesting read ping.
20 posted on 08/11/2003 11:27:12 AM PDT by Wrigley
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To: Wallace T.
I don't think Criswell or CFNI are seminaries. Rather I think they are just colleges. SWBTS and DTS are excellent, though. Thanks for bringing up the others as I know little of them.
21 posted on 08/11/2003 11:38:09 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: tom h
Excellent summation. Thanks for the info.
22 posted on 08/11/2003 11:38:44 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: armymarinemom
I hope he learns to stand agains thte culture rather than allow it to change him.
23 posted on 08/11/2003 11:39:30 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?

REG: F- off!

BRIAN: What?

REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.

FRANCIS: Wankers.

BRIAN: Can I... join your group?

REG: No. Piss off.

BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.

PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.

REG: Schtum.

JUDITH: Are you sure?

BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.

REG: Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you'd have to really hate the Romans.

BRIAN: I do!

REG: Oh, yeah? How much?

BRIAN: A lot!

REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f - ing Judean People's Front.

P.F.J.: Yeah...

JUDITH: Splitters.

P.F.J.: Splitters...

FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front.

P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...

LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea.

P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...

REG: What?

LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.

REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!

LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

REG: People's Front! C-huh.

FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

REG: He's over there.

P.F.J.: Splitter!
24 posted on 08/11/2003 11:39:53 AM PDT by WhiteGuy (Deficit $455,000,000,000 + MY VOTE IS FOR SALE)
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To: Zack Nguyen
here is an interesting site for "progressive" Presbyterians:
http://www.witherspoonsociety.org/index.html

Here is a general article on the greening of the church:
http://www.worldwatch.org/press/news/2003/04/08/

Religious Environmentalism Blooms on Earth Day

Washington, D.C.— Spring trees in bloom aren’t the only things turning green these days. So are religious groups of all stripes. People of faith are giving a boost to the environmental movement, offering a spiritual dimension to Earth Day.

"Passover and Easter both celebrate life and its renewal, as does Earth Day," says Gary Gardner, author of Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World. "The coincidence of these religious and secular events is symbolic of the increasing collaboration among the religious and sustainability communities."

This collaboration, says Gardner, is founded on complementary strengths. Environmentalists have a strong grounding in science. Religious institutions enjoy moral authority and a grassroots presence that shape the worldviews and lifestyles of billions. As these groups meld their strengths, they are successfully addressing issues from sustainable consumption in Sri Lanka to green investing by stockholders in New York.

In the United States, 3,500 Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and Quaker congregations have committed to purchasing fairly-traded, shade-grown, often organic coffee. Just five years old, the Interfaith Coffee Program now supplies about one percent of the country’s congregations and is the fastest-growing source of revenue for the Equal Exchange Coffee Company, the program’s sponsor. (Excerpted from article.)

Here is an article on eclesiastical green theory: http://www.commonlawreview.com/review/environmentalism.htm

Here is an article about Paul Gorman - Executive Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, an alliance of American faith communities served by the Coalition on Environment and Jewish life, the Evangelical Environmental Network, the National Council of Churches of Christ, and the U.S. Catholic Conference. http://www.thegoodsteward.com/article.php3?articleID=507

25 posted on 08/11/2003 11:41:21 AM PDT by marsh2
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To: Wrigley; Frumanchu
Interesting read, indeed! Thanks!
26 posted on 08/11/2003 12:56:17 PM PDT by nobdysfool (Let God be true, and every man a liar...)
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To: Zack Nguyen
RC = roman catholic
27 posted on 08/11/2003 1:01:18 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: doc30
Yes, I am well aware of the movement and have many friends hanging on. However, sin a head tax is involved and headquarters has a long history of misspending tithes and offerings (dating back to support for the communist, Angela Davis), we could not continue. Especially since we (both myself and spouse were elders) could get no assurances from higher ups that they wouldn't do such things in the future.

I do, however miss the order and style. I suppose we could go for OPC, but there isn't really a good option of such within 10 miles of here.

My best to you and your efforts. After reading the transcripts from the "Reimagining Conference" from years ago (supported in large part by PCUSA dollars), we felt that the Lord could not bless it any longer. That, coupled with too many inside the G.A. who "waver between two opinions" when it comes to the very thing the Episcopalian church has just done, made us very uncomfortable.

28 posted on 08/11/2003 1:06:48 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
bump.
29 posted on 08/11/2003 2:05:52 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen; scripter
Bump & Ping

read later...
30 posted on 08/11/2003 2:18:44 PM PDT by EdReform (Support Free Republic - Become a Monthly Donor)
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To: Zack Nguyen
My congregation is extrordinarily solid and it is growing, which we know bucks the trend. I have never wanted to learn about scripture until attending these services. I have raised money in public service for the first time in my life. Pastor is quite impressive.
31 posted on 08/11/2003 3:05:02 PM PDT by frithguild (Better living through technology)
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To: frithguild
I am glad to hear that! You want to learn about the Bible because the Holy Spirit is prompting you to learn His Word. You are good to obey His prompting. Let me encourage you in this - there is no substitute for spending time in God's Word.

What do you mean by "raised money in public"?
32 posted on 08/11/2003 3:18:36 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
Bump
33 posted on 08/11/2003 3:32:50 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7
bump.
34 posted on 08/11/2003 6:57:33 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: ruppertdog
I grew up in a PCUSA church with a godly pastor, and an ungodly session. But my understanding of the denomination grew when a former PCUSA pastor shared with me why he left National Capital Presbytery -- the rejection of a ministerial candidate because he believed in Christ was born of a virgin.
35 posted on 08/11/2003 7:01:59 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
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To: Zack Nguyen
Yikes! Poorly worded message "Raised money in public service" = "Raised money in connection with my service to the public."

Our pastor introduced our congregation to a local youth ministry that focuses on introducing Jesus to at risk children. I live in the shadow of a once thriving seaside resort, which now includes areas of abject desperation within walking distance of areas of great affluence. I raised a couple of hundred dollars in pledges from lawyers in my firm for a 2 1/2 mile walk through town. I spent the morning with my eight year old daugter mostly pointing to the buildings and telling old stories of what this town was like in its heyday. This particular fund raiser was for a summer trip where the teens go in ministry go to Hati, which I have been told is quite transforming.
36 posted on 08/11/2003 7:39:30 PM PDT by frithguild (Better living through technology)
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To: B-Chan
Very Catholic reply.

I thank you for your prayers.
37 posted on 08/11/2003 7:41:52 PM PDT by frithguild (Better living through technology)
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To: Zack Nguyen
bump
38 posted on 08/11/2003 8:00:24 PM PDT by foreverfree
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To: ibheath
read later
39 posted on 08/11/2003 9:22:28 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: frithguild
I spent the morning with my eight year old daugter mostly pointing to the buildings and telling old stories of what this town was like in its heyday.

That sounds great.

40 posted on 08/12/2003 7:10:40 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
bump.
41 posted on 08/12/2003 10:24:16 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: anniegetyourgun
I have been struggling with this dilemna for some time now and have been sorely tempted to leave my local Presbyterian church. If I were to do so it would be in deep trouble financially since my efforts add about 20-25% of its income.

It has served me well personnally having married me, baptisized my sons and buried my precious wife so the emotional tie is very strong. But I grieve over the denomination's national leadership.
42 posted on 08/12/2003 10:44:52 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit
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To: justshutupandtakeit
That is a tough thing for you and your family. Are your ministers Bible-believing conservatives? ARe they concerned about the denomination? Do they have a financial stake in the denomination?
43 posted on 08/12/2003 10:51:31 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: justshutupandtakeit
I understand your dilemna since several families left at the same time we did - taking 4 deacons and 3 elders in the process. Since it is the leadership that typically tithes (and significantly offers), it was a significant financial hit as well. It was also there that my children were baptized and where we were married. Tough decision, to be sure. I'll send up a prayer for yours.
44 posted on 08/12/2003 11:06:39 AM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: Zack Nguyen
We haven't had an actual minister for about three years. The interim seems to have his head screwed on relatively straight.

It is very difficult for such a small congregation to survive in Chicago and pay a living wage to a minister. When the job is adverised 80% of the applicants sent by the Presbytery are liberal women. So far I have prevented their hiring.
45 posted on 08/12/2003 11:07:30 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (America's Enemies foreign and domestic agree. Bush must be destroyed.)
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To: anniegetyourgun
Thank you, it will help. I rotate off the session this year though they seem to finagle a way to get me back on, would still handle the investments. In the past bequests of stocks had just gone into a black hole no one knew what we had or what to do with them. I determined all our holdings and had them placed within a brokerage firm where they can be tracked. You wouldn't believe the difficulty in gathering the information about what the church actually had in terms of stocks. No records, no one remembered doodley, just a nightmare.
46 posted on 08/12/2003 11:13:03 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (America's Enemies foreign and domestic agree. Bush must be destroyed.)
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To: justshutupandtakeit
When the job is adverised 80% of the applicants sent by the Presbytery are liberal women. So far I have prevented their hiring.

Wow. "Woman" and "liberal" are two big problems.

But what is more concerning is that you have to "prevent their hiring." Are others at your fellowship very liberal?

47 posted on 08/12/2003 11:51:53 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
Not really but it is an ancient membership unaware of the whiles of the Left.
48 posted on 08/13/2003 7:25:41 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (America's Enemies foreign and domestic agree. Bush must be destroyed.)
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To: justshutupandtakeit
Reminds me of the old joke about Presbyterians - that they are just (Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, you fill-in-the-blank) whose investments went well!
49 posted on 08/13/2003 7:38:12 AM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: anniegetyourgun
bump.
50 posted on 08/13/2003 10:31:27 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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