In a debate, if we do not agree on what is truth or how to discover truth and how to determine what truth is, how can we ever decide who is right and who is wrong? If I say, “Truth derives from God’s revealed Word,” but you say, “All truths are relative and depend upon the individual… whatever a person believes is true for them,” then how can we ever agree on anything? Will we not be talking past one another?
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3, NKJV.
“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities,” Revelation 18:4, 5, NRSV.
There are many Presbyterian pastors, churches, and laity who are now wondering what they should do. The confessing church, made up of the conservative and biblically faithful believers, has been filled with grief, disbelief, and dismay. They finally lost the majority vote over acceptance and ordination of homosexuals, bisexuals, trans-genders, adulterers and fornicators into offices of ministry in the denomination. The truth is they lost this argument years ago by accepting principles of authority that predetermined this outcome. By staying and fighting they will accomplish nothing. They have been outwitted and out-maneuvered and have lost ground they will never regain. They can never win or reform the institution, and I will explain why it is better to leave than to try.
The liberal mantra of the “progressive and open minded” pastors, bureaucrats, and left wing of the PC(USA) goes something like this: “Let us all agree to disagree and still remain in unity, and thus to show Christian charity by remaining in fellowship. We can all disagree and still get along.” Tolerance and “open-mindedness” is the key Christian virtue in this mantra, and the greater sin is division. However these same “liberal” voices would be aghast if you said something like, “I personally don’t believe in abusing women, but I think it is perfectly okay to invite wife beaters and rapists into the church and ordain them,” or, “I personally don’t believe in slavery, but its okay if you want to own slaves. I don’t think we should divide the denomination over issues like that.” Tolerance is a virtue to the liberal as long as you share liberal values and politically correct thinking, but the liberal is no more tolerant of divergent beliefs than the conservative is; it just depends upon what those beliefs are. So to assume the liberal wing of the PC(USA) is more tolerant and open-minded, and therefore more “Christian,” is a lie of intimidation and an insinuation that anyone who holds a different view is less enlightened, less tolerant, less loving, and therefore less Christian.
“For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” 1 Corinthians 11:18, 19, RSV.
You see, the liberal loses nothing by compromise, because to compromise means that you are willing play on his terms. You agree with him that what you believe is not that important. The issue is not so important to you that you would die for it, fight for it, or even leave the denomination over it. You will surrender whatever you believe for the greater good of “Christian unity, the denomination, and the values of tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness.” And you thereby agree that these liberal values better express the true meaning of Christian love and charity than whatever things you believe. You also, by agreeing to this compromise, agree with them that what you believe is not essential to faith, or to righteousness, or morals, or obedience to Christ.
Like those who want all religions to deny their claims to ultimate truth and so make peace by agreeing to all get along, so the liberal wants you to get along by denying your deeply held convictions as essentials of the faith: calling them instead merely your personal opinions about truth. In essence, you have agreed with the liberal that your beliefs are not the only truth, or even the majority truth. You have become a liberal. And you have not compromised your essential beliefs – you have surrendered them.
The problem Bible believing Christians now face in the PC(USA) – and in the other denominations going through similar changes like the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, etc. - is that the liberals and the conservatives are not playing by the same rules. They are not even playing the same game. The liberals have home field advantage, and have drawn up the all lines on the football field, but the conservatives come out expecting to play baseball. The umpire is a football official, and the liberal team demands that you play this game on their field. The liberal field is the belief in relativism. As soon as you step on the field, you have consented to be governed by their rules, and that means that all your beliefs are relative, not the only truth, but merely one truth among others. In order to try and hold the denomination together and maintain a majority, you have been asked to surrender your commitment to the scriptures as the Word of God and the only standard for faith, life, and practice.
In a nutshell, that is what is happening when the conservative Christians try to argue for righteousness in the denomination. The conservatives appeal to the Scriptures, but the liberals do not accept God’s Word as a standard, much less as THE standard, for faith, life, and practice. They do not believe that the Bible is actually God’s unchanging Word, but merely a document written by men, who lacked present day knowledge. Instead of being revealed truth, the Bible is subject to reinterpretation because of the more enlightened, scientific, and tolerant age in which we now live. You are arguing apples and they are arguing oranges.
For liberals, the truth is whatever the democratic majority says. For the conservative, no truth is decided by majority vote, but by God alone, through the Holy Spirit, written in the revealed Word of God. There is no authority for the liberal, so when the conservative appeals to the Word of God for a decision, the liberal feels free to ignore it. That is not the umpire on their field. The Word of God and the arguments for it, carry no weight at all. It is as if the conservative says, “you struck out,” but the liberal says, “no one strikes out in this game, everyone gets a touchdown.” And the liberal ignores your cries of “foul!” It is meaningless to him.
Thus the liberal can rejoice when the majority votes in his favor, because that means he wins. Truth is decided by men, not by God. With this disagreement on sources of authority and ultimate truth, there is no way to win a debate with a liberal or come to agreement on essential principles. You cannot even agree about the meaning of truth. And so, it means that by agreeing to stay within the denominational structure of the PC(USA), you have surrendered to their rules, their game, their concept of authority, and you have renounced your own. You will never be able to convince those who do not accept the Bible as God’s revealed Word that it is the source of ultimate truth. You are trying to stop a rising tide on the beach with a sand castle wall.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret,” Ephesians 5:11, 12, NKJV.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals,’” 1 Corinthians 15:33, RSV.
You are compromised even by your continued association with the immoral. You have several problems.
Why would the Lord bring new Christians into a house of perversion? It would be like giving your children to a pedophile to babysit them. The Lord will not bless this work or entrust his newborn children to this demonic, apostate system. It would be child abuse.
Will you not leave because of pensions, property, or endowments? It is a great evil that the Presbyterian Church in the USA was set up as the owner of the properties of the local church. It gutted the local congregations of the courage to leave years ago when this all began to unravel. And now it is too late. You must leave and be willing to leave your property behind as a witness and a testimony.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24, RSV.
Are you so comfortable in your current position that you will not trust the Lord and risk it all for righteousness sake? Are you faithless and unbelieving, or worse, a coward?
“My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38, RSV.
First of all, let me tell you, your pension is kept for you even after you leave, for I still have mine and I left 21 years ago. But yes, to leave may require a sacrifice of security, income, comfort, and the certainty of your future calling. But what testimony will you give on judgment day, when you say to God, “I knew the denomination was wrong, but I was afraid I’d lose my life of secure comfort”?
What I can say to you is that there is life after the denomination. I had to work odd jobs for a few years. I was a salesman, a laborer, a web designer, but through it all, the Lord provided and I learned more about the world and what it means to minister to those who struggle in the marketplace.
Maybe you and your whole church will have courage and leave. I have a suggestion for you: give all your endowments away to valid missions and ministries, indebt your buildings, and then see if the presbytery still wants them. Walk away if they do. Start from scratch with an uncompromised people who will follow God no matter what the cost. Then you will have agreement on righteousness and truth, morals and faith, and your prayers will be those of agreement, not of compromise. Your conscience will be clear and you will be able to look to your God with hope and faith.