Skip to comments.Presbyterian leaders in Pittsburgh reeling from latest exodus from denomination
Posted on 12/12/2012 10:31:59 PM PST by Cronos
Members of Pittsburgh Presbytery expressed grief and frustration with three churches that recently voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) without going through the constitutional process for doing so, while the church's national moderator, who coincidentally was at their regular meeting Thursday, said he had offered to meet with leaders of those churches and two others that are pursuing the formal process for leaving.
Representatives from only one of the five, later identified as Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Oakland, agreed to meet with the Rev. Neal Presa. About 140 churches are in the countywide presbytery.
Recently, Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Township and the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown voted to secede without going through nine to 18 months of discussions with presbytery officials or negotiations over property. They joined the more theologically conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
At least 200 other churches have similarly left the 1.9 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) since 2007. The most prominent issue was acceptance of local option on gay ordination, but those departing say that changing sexual standards reflect a broader disregard for the biblical authority. Defenders of the changes compare them to earlier reinterpretations of scripture involving women's ordination, divorce and slavery.
Rev. Sorge said he didn't believe that most members of the departing congregations understood that they were voting to violate the church constitution. He is sending letters to explain why the presbytery still maintains jurisdiction and will be sending a commission to work toward an acceptable departure under church law.
"Our effort is not to try to stop them from leaving the PCUSA but to do it in a way that is in conformity with our constitution. We aren't trying to blockade anybody," he said.
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
hello -- women's ordination is not condoned by scripture or tradition and is wrong, as is divorce
Slavery, the Bible talks of freeing slaves after a period of time and Jesus says all men are brothers -- so the slave owner and the slave too. That meaning has never changed.
Not to be too argumentative but . .
Junia in Romans is called an apostle by Paul and she was most definitely female. Do a little research on your own remembering that there are no male nor female in Christ. We Christians are all equal in all aspects of what that means.
Please do not take this as an argument one way or the other. I come from a very traditional and evangelical background but . . . well check it out as it is controversial.
Women as priestesses, sorry, no, not for their lack of pastoral ability or preaching ability or fervor or holiness, not from a lack of any holiness, but from the point of view of the participation in the Eucharist -- a Holy Tradition that Christ inaugurated with the Last Supper
With this, as I said -- a woman preacher etc. I see no issue with so in your case none at all
It’s a stretch to call PCUSA a church anymore. Social club. Progressive meeting hall. Liberalism with old hymns.
Not sure who it was on this forum, but someone stated the same thing. It was about six months ago or so. I spend a good two weeks going through the scriptures and historical background of the issue.
Like you, I was raised with the same concepts and teachings for most of my life. I even was ordained as a minister but found it was not my calling. It is a controversy (did not seem to be in the early church where women were actually preachers spreading the word starting from the day of Pentecost). It does not appear to be a problem until the actual organization of the church and the various councils gathered to put some order in the movement (we all know the Council of Nicea). Then (apparently because the church leaders were from cultures that held women in low regard) the concept we were taught was implemented. My traditional upbringing and experiences is with the Restoration Movement in the US prior to the Civil War. The movement pretty much rejects the various councils and works to restore the church to what one finds in the early churches. The Holy Tradition that Christ . . . did not become the HOLY TRADITION until implemented by one of the councils (as per the teachings of the Restoration Movement of Campbell, Stone and others).
If one reads the Scriptures, one finds that the early church members met on the first day of the week and broke bread in remembrance of Christ’s Last Supper. The Christian Jews also attended the Sabbath Services on Saturday as well. No HOLY WRIT or show of great celebration - just met together and humbly carried out the traditions you speak of with little fanfare.
The participation in any “ritual” almost makes the concept meaningless and the ritual taking the place of the meaning (not meant to be argumentative just practical). The all-men ministers was very much part of the tradition of the Restoration Movement but probably as a tradition and not Biblical. When one says we are all equal spiritually, one really cannot say “equal except . . “ We either are or we are not. As Christians we share in the spiritual feast of our Lord without exceptions. That is the final personal argument that changed my mind along with those two weeks of intense research. Junia was an apostle with all that this term implies. Apostles carried out all the leadership functions without exception prior to any council or writ saying who could and who could not. Phoebe was a deaconess with everything that term implies as well.
I came to his conclusion with much research, thought and prayer. It is controversial and IMHO, one may want to be so positive in one’s belief on such controversial and none salvation related issues. I have changed my mind on a lot of the traditions and customs I was taught and believed over the years. Of course, I find it interesting that so many of the “liberal Christian congregations” are losing huge numbers of their members and the ministers cannot seem to figure out why. See http://dmergent.org/ for a good example of the liberal Christian view.
I am sickened by much of what some of these ministers write in regard to homosexuality and other things and their rationalization of what the Scriptures actually teach. Why would anyone attend such an organization when they can just join the local golf club or other social organization and get the same hugs and pats on the head. I think we both know why they are losing membership - they have ceased to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Just saying there is a valid argument to be made on the issue.
You don’t understand the first thing about the ‘tradition of the Church’, which is why you believe this argument is reasonable.
No, it’s not, and this argument is the same, old, weak argument from before that unless women can be priests that women are somehow inferior. Would you say that a man is inferior because a man cannot have children?
The issue here is the acceptance of homosexuals to be ministers. Any such acceptance of homosexuality is the work of Satan. The Catholic Church has had their fill of damage from homosexual priests preying on young boys. This is how Satan wants to destroys Christ’s church and separate people from their vehicle to salvation.
That is why they call us protestants because we do not buy into the Catholic doctrines established by man. These doctrines have absolutely nothing to do with my salvation nor my personal relationship with Christ.
No, Paul says Junia was noted by all the Apostles. And while male and female are equal in Christ with regard to salvation, each have their own roles. That a Priest or Pastor is to be a male is made very clear in 1 Timothy and Titus (the pastoral epistles)
That is an interesting interpretation but then why would it be a controversy if such were correct?
Some argue that Junia was a male while acknowledging him as an apostle. No such male name known in Greek so if only acknowledged by the apostles, why make him into a male? Do believe she is actually called an apostle in the Greek, otherwise, no controversy among the church historians. All the sources I found acknowledge Junia’s apostleship. Interesting though, isn’t it.
Not to worry as it will continue as a controversy among Greek and Church historians alike for years to come. Did not mean to argue, just sayin . .
Back to the issue at hand - early church leaders considered the act of homosexuality to be sinful. The Scriptures have a lot to say about such sins and one would have to be a pretzel to rationalize what is stated. I see many liberal Christian ministers pretzelizing the Scriptures. Most people I know who take their Christian faith seriously are sickened by this whole mess the country is now in.
Or on other words PCUSA wants these churches' money and property...that's what this is all about, just like in the Episcopal Church.
Money: the same reason why the ELCA (the apostate Lutherans who are now in concordance with the Episcopalians) still bothers with lying to the remaining little old ladies who desperately want to believe their church hasn't been taken over by homosexuals and leftists.
Biblical authority has been undermined for almost 200 years by the liberal church. The issue of homosexuality is a symptom, not the disease.
Read Machen's book titled "Christianity and Liberalism." It is prophetic in the sense of what he saw happening in the church then and where we are now.
I think it's interesting that the early Church --- amidst controversy, it's true --- did find slaves and gentiles qualified for ordained ministry, and this with Paul's strong leadership on the question. Note that in his letter to Philemon, Paul even hints --- in his very tactful and diplomatic way --that he would want the slave Onesimus to be freed so he could serve in the Church, as part of Paul's own ministry.
And yet while Paul calls the woman Junia an apostle, he also, elsewhere, expressed the contrasting view: that women are not to exercise authority over men in the Church.
Clearly Paul was not a man to shrink back from public opinion or cultural constraints when it came to slaves and gentiles. But sexual identity really is a different category. Slaves and freemen, Gentiles and Jews differ from each other in ways that really are socially changeable. But men and women differ from each other in ways that are in-built, and intended by the Creator: "male and female He created them."
This hints that, while men and women are equal, it might not be right to treat them as if they were interchangeable and identical.
There's more to be said on this on both sides, of course!
Incidentally, while I'm firmly convinced that women cannot be admitted to Holy Orders as ordained deacons, priests, and bishops, I see not reason why women should not serve in all non-ordained ministries, every (lay) level of leadership, including the top ones.
So maybe my thoughts are not relevant to the Presbyterian situation at all, since (as I understand it) you do not have "Holy Orders"--- priesthood--- as Catholics would understand the term.
Does that make sense?
Junia in Romans is called an apostle by Paul and she was most definitely female. Do a little research on your own remembering that there are no male nor female in Christ. We Christians are all equal in all aspects of what that means.
Yes, we are all the same as far as our salvation is concerned.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
Oops -— I posted mine before I read yours. But we seem to be making the same points. Great minds... :o)
Wonderfully written and with an obvious Christian spirit. As is often the case of many evangelicals and conservative Christians, I was taught that the Catholic church was . . . . (you can supply whatever bad word you want). As I matured in Christ and observed with mature eyes, I realized that the people are the church and not the building or the organization running the building. We all share the same salvation in Christ.
I now have a new found respect for the Catholic Church as an institution as it stands against many of the things so terribly wrong in America today. The murder of our most innocent humans and the secular approach to so many Important things in our society. The Catholic Church’s clear stand on abortion and clear stand against homosexuality brings joy to my heart as many a liberal church have fallen for the lies and deception of human secularism. Standing tall for Christianity when so many have thrown in the towel is inspiring.
As to Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthians about the place of women in the Christian society, many scholars believe that the women, having found true freedom in this new Christian society, were pushing the bounds of this freedom in such a way that was detrimental to the growth and well being of the church. The culture of the society in Corinth was metropolitan but most definitely a man’s world where women were either looked upon a chattel or at best second class citizens. To see these Christian women enjoying the same freedom as their male counterparts caused too many problems and probably made them some very powerful hostile enemies. Makes sense to me. Would Paul write the same to churches in a country like the US where women are equal in all respects? Who knows.
Thank you for your post, it did my heart good.
If you talk with a supporter of women priestesses for long, you’ll come to see that their argument is not based upon concepts of holiness but on power and the equal access to it. They see the priest as being a position of power and they covet that power.
hello — women’s ordination is not condoned by scripture or tradition and is wrong, as is divorce
Maybe they believe Women Church leaders and homosexual marriages will bring them in more members which will bring them more money.
Any one who believes the Gospel could not possibly be involved in one of these clubs on their race toward hell.
The Bible indicates to me that if i miss hell it will just be by the skin of my teeth and i believe.
How can those people even claim to believe?
You wrote: “..early church leaders considered the act of homosexuality to be sinful. The Scriptures have a lot to say about such sins and one would have to be a pretzel to rationalize what is stated. ...”
Here are a couple of articles you might find enlightening:
Dennis Prager: “...Indeed, Judaism may be said to have invented the notion of homosexuality, for in the ancient world sexuality was not divided between heterosexuality and homosexuality. ...”
Dennis Prager: “ The only holy sex in Judeo-Christian religions is between a husband and wife. All other sex is unholy. But not necessarily immoral. ....many religious people blur the distinction by labeling unholy actions immoral actions. And that has often given religion a bad name because thinking secular people know that some actions called immoral by the religious are not necessarily immoral.”
People who do not believe in God or religion can surely lead ethical lives. But they cannot lead holy lives. By definition, the ideal of the holy, as understood by Judaism and Christianity and that unique amalgam known as Judeo-Christian values, needs God and religion.
Here is the best way I know of to explain holiness in Judeo-Christian religions: There is a continuum from the profane to the holy that coincides with the dual bases of human creation — the animal and the divine.
The human being can be said to be created in the image of God and in the image of animals. We are biologically animals, and we are spiritually, morally and theologically God-like (at least in our potential). God is the most holy; and animals, as helpful, loyal and lovable as many are, are at the opposite end of the holiness continuum. This is in no way an insult to animals. Saying dogs and lions are not holy is no more degrading to them than saying men are not women or women are not men. That is how they are created.
There is actually a secular way to understand this. If we saw a person eating food with his face in a bowl, we would think, “He eats like a pig” or “He eats like an animal.” That is an insult to a person — because humans are supposed to elevate their behavior above the animal (this is a goal of Judeo-Christian and just about every other major religious tradition). But it is no insult to an animal. When an animal eats face-first out of a bowl, we hardly think ill of it; but when a person mimics animal behavior, we do think lower of that person. So, even non-religious society has imbibed some of the view that acting like an animal is not how a human being should generally act.
Now, to better understand this, one needs to appreciate that holiness is not a moral category. There is nothing immoral in eating with one’s face inside a bowl. It is unholy to do so, but not immoral or unethical.
It is crucial to understand the difference between the moral and the holy.
Even many religious people blur the distinction by labeling unholy actions immoral actions. And that has often given religion a bad name because thinking secular people know that some actions called immoral by the religious are not necessarily immoral.
This is particularly true in the sexual arena, where many religious people characterize unholy behavior as immoral behavior — so much so that the very word “immoral” has come to be equated with sexual sin.
Much consensual adult behavior that Judeo-Christian values would prohibit is unholy rather than immoral. For example, non-marital sex between consenting adults violates the Judeo-Christian code of holiness, but not necessarily its code of morality (if there were coercion or trickery, it would, of course, be immoral). The only holy sex in Judeo-Christian religions is between a husband and wife. All other sex is unholy. But not necessarily immoral.
All immoral actions — such as stealing and murder — are, of course, unholy. But not all unholy actions (like eating with one’s face in a bowl) are immoral.
Nevertheless, just because holy and moral are not identical does not mean the holy is not monumentally significant. Elevating human behavior above the animal and toward the divine is one of the greatest achievements humans can accomplish. If we really did behave like animals in the sexual arena (like the famous bunny rabbit, for example), society would eventually collapse.
Speech is another example. In our increasingly secular world, fewer and fewer attempts are made by people to elevate their speech. That is why public cursing is now much more prevalent. In most ballparks and stadiums, one hears language shouted out that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. Sanctifying speech is another religious value; it is not a secular value. Whenever I see a vehicle with an obscene bumper sticker, I am sure of only one thing: The owner of that vehicle does not regularly attend religious services.
The consequences of the death of the holy are ubiquitous. Secular Europe is far readier to feature nudity on public television than is Judeo-Christian America, and it is far more accepting of people walking around nude in public at beaches. The Judeo-Christian problem with public nudity among consenting adults at a beach or even at a nudist colony is not that these people are necessarily acting immorally (they may not be touching one another or even sexually arousing each other); it is that they are acting like animals. Clothing gives human beings dignity; it elevates them above the animals whose genitals are always uncovered (the first thing God made for man and woman is clothing).
And that is what the Judeo-Christian value system ultimately yearns for — the elevation of human conduct to the God-like, rather than allowing us to behave like fellow animals.
typically churches that accept female pastors are like salmon who have made their run and laid their eggs. the only thing they have left to do is die.
Sounds harsh but these churches never attract real men—as in guy guys. the males who are there have already checked out in more ways than one.
You don’t really follow scripture, except where it agrees with you. Which is unfortunate. Scripture is pretty clear on this that women cannot and should not be priests.
If that is the case, any position in the Presbyterian church would be open to women, inasmuch as it is a lay position.
The Catholic church has hordes of women in similar (lay) leadership positions: DRE's, prayer group and Bible study leaders, parish administrators, canon lawyers, diocesan chancellors, Vatican ambassadors, maybe even judges on canonical tribunes if I'm not mistaken.
[Off topic, but I wonder, even, if women could not be Cardinals. At present all Cardinals are Bishops, but the office of Cardinal is not, strictly speaking, defined in the NT, nor is it some function of the priesthood: so is there any reason women could not be electors in a papal conclave??]
In any case, not priests. That's something else.
We left the PCUSA after the local pastor passed out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with the words changed to: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlepeople.”
You’re incorrect here. Presbyterians interpret the same passage we use to refer to priests in reference to their pastors. Elders as overseers/Bishops.
At least as I understand it, it's priesthood --- not leadership per se --- that is a distinctively male charism.
My own hunch (and this is not Catholic Doctrine, it's from Mrs. Don-o's Big Bag o'Hunches) is that women don't function optimally in a hierarchical structure, whether it be the Church, the military, a business hierarchy, or any other. Women's strengths aren't along the lines of the priestly and hierarchical, but rather along the lines of the mystical and prophetic.
All of our illustrious female Doctors of the Church are mystics.
BTW, that same issue overlays everything, including marriage. We are not far from protestants in general not having their marriages recognized by the Catholic church. Taking out the concept of Marriage as a sacrament has some pretty serious consequences for their organization as a whole.
That church is apostate...
That church is apostate...
They arrive at conclusion #1 by interpreting Scriptures independently of what Church Fathers have taught through the centuries (this they reject as mere "tradition"); and they arrive at conclusion #2 by saying Sola Fide--- faith only, relying on God's superabundant clemency, and independent of "works" and personal "righteousness."
Mouse around to "Gay Christian" websites like this one (Link), and you will see a host of arguments for the moral OKness of "gay marriage," many of them based on the assertion that such Greek NT words as arsenokoitai and malakoi do not refer to all same-sex relations per se, but only to temple prostitution, servile pederasty and the like.
You may want to jump up, arms waving, to tell me that this is all balderdash, but I know very well that it's balderdash. But that's because I am convinced that the correct interpretation of Scripture is securely established by (1) Sacred Tradition (the writings of the earliest Fathers of the Church) and (2) Natural Law, as interpreted by (3) the formal teaching authority of the successors of the Apostles.
Even highly intelligent and very faithful pastors cannot refute the "gay theology" people convincingly on the basis of Scripture alone.
Why? Because they can't exclude other, ostensibly "scholarly" interpretations.
The "gay" advocates are adept at using "Sola Scriptura," "Sola Gratia," and "Sola Christus" and "Sola Fides" theology to reach the conclusions they want.
I would love to be proved wrong about this.
Can you, or anybody, steer me to a website, say, where the gay exegetes are refuted point by point, and without reliance on Natural Law, Sacred Tradition, Magisterial authority, or any resources other than the Bible itself?
It's really hard to read much into that.
As for homosexuality the scriptures are abundantly clear. I can understand these churches leaving rather than having an unrepentant sinner leading them in mock worship.
Indeed. I am wondering when these so called wanna-be “priestesses” are going to sign up to preach the gospel in an Islamic or communist nation and possibly be martyred for the faith.
How many do you want? Here's one:
I’ve only read some of his work but Dr. Robert Gagnon’s work would probably be a good place to start:
I would have this question for those who try to say Scripture condones homosexual activity: would the original audience the books of the Bible were initially written for have believed homosexual behavior was acceptable from these documents?
Singing to the choir and doing a good job of it.
As stated it remains controversial except for the fact that there is no Junia in Greek for a male. It is a female name only, but then that does not change the controversy, does it?
I’m sorry, JCB, but inthai is not advocating priestesses but pastoresses. That is completely different
Actually, I do not advocate anything, just trying to understand for myself concerning the concept of women in the ministry. I used to hold to the traditional concept of males only but . . . well, I would have no trouble attending a service where women preach and hold positions of authority.
I have come a long way since my ordination one hundred years or so ago :-)
Junia in Romans is called an apostle by Paul and she was most definitely female.
In actuality she/he isn't called an apostle. Paul states that she/he is WELL-KNOWN (or of note) to the apostles.
Thanks very much for these resources! I will check them out — and also google the authors to find what else they might have online. I appreciate your assistance in this matter.
The actual text is best rendered as “sodomite” and “catamite”, “pitchers and catchers”.
Can’t one say that about anyone who dare disagree with one’s own “judgement?” I did not say I was right, I simply shared that which I have learned over a lifetime of research, pray and human understanding. If you think that is not good enough for you to make a decision, well, you have the right to base your opinions on whatever you choose. No argument from me.