‘What then does it mean to be a Presbyterian?’ Posted Monday, November 7, 2011 in the Presbyterian Layman What does it now mean to be a Presbyterian? Every country club, civic association or condominium, for that matter, has rules of organization, statements of principle and codes of conduct to which members must adhere. Every religion has tenets of faith by which members define themselves and their beliefs in contrast to the values of other religions, cultures, governments and groups. Reading through the new Form of Government (FOG), I have to ask, what makes anything about the new PCUSA distinctly Presbyterian? When I was in seminary, aside from a basic adherence to the great confessions of the church, a partiality to Calvinism was part of the distinctiveness of Presbyterianism, in contrast to the doctrines of the Methodists, Catholics and Lutherans. But I think the new FOG is foggy to say the least. Take this section for example: In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, God unites persons through baptism regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, geography, or theological conviction. There is therefore no place in the life of the Church for discrimination against any person. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) … Read more
Illegal Immigration Myth – Jobs American’s Don’t Want While visiting Cape Cod last year, we were approached by an independent painting contractor. He asked if we had many illegal immigrants near Pittsburgh, PA where we live. I told him that we had very few and asked him “Why?” He said, “I am losing all my bids on house painting here because I charge a fair price, but I pay Social Security and Workman’s Comp for all my employees. But I’m losing all my bids to people who hire illegal immigrants and pay them under the table. I can’t make a decent living here… “ That one instance explodes several myths about illegal immigration: Myth#1 – Illegal immigrants only take the jobs that no one else wants. Truth: The hiring of illegal immigrants by business allows them to pay lower wages to undocumented workers, who cannot complain, and to pay wages that no US citizen can live with, especially when the US worker has to pay taxes, Social Security, Medicare tax, and workman’s comp. In truth, illegal immigrants lower the wages for all Americans by allowing businesses to hire under the table. There are plenty of workers who would be willing … Read more
Why do we call them “hookers and whores” When they take off their clothes behind closed doors, But call them actors and actresses when so brazenly They do the same for all the world to see? They say it is for their “Art” When we all know the better part It is a barter for their souls To be bought and sold With the same earthly treasure Spent to serve man’s pleasure Paid to those of a “profession” more despised On whom we look with downcast eyes They no more are artists than those who bump and grind And rub themselves upon a pole With deceitful eyes they gloat with pride To disguise the hole within their souls. These actresses reveal their flesh for men’s desire Just like the women who undress for hire They pretend to themselves with highfalutin words But calling it “Art” is more than they deserve.
What’s With Paul & Women? By Jon Zens 1 Timothy 2:11-12 has been used as a “clear” mandate to silence women in the church for over 1500 years. In What’s With Paul & Women? Jon Zens exposes the fallacies of this interpretation, and opens up the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 using insights gleaned from the Artemis-saturated Ephesian culture where Timothy was left to stand against false teaching (1:3). Going beyond 1 Timothy 2, this book covers the major issues in gender inequality with three Appendices: one on the Ephesian social world in which 1 Timothy was written, another on 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 and an extensive review of John Piper’s What’s the Difference? Manhood & Womanhood Defined According to the Bible. If 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 have puzzled you, What’s With Paul & Women? will help in your quest to discern the mind of the Lord as the gender debate continues. I was hoping this book would be better than it is. Jon Zens raises a lot of good points and issues, but makes a mess of his argument, relying too heavily on an untenable translation of the Greek verb tense as a pivotal point of his … Read more
Jeff Harris, a friend of mine and a former PC(USA) pastor who has started a new church in Butler, PA called Crossroad Community, did a very good summary of the problems with post-World War II churches trying to do outreach with 1950's methods in today's culture. There has been such a dramatic cultural shift in the United States that the culture no longer assumes or respects a Christian worldview. And also, the things that the current generation values are significantly different than the values produced by a corporate business model that was characteristic of the 1950's and 60's. This table below is a summary of the different values and shows the need to adjust our methodology of outreach and evangelism in order to reach the current generation. Those churches that rely upon the old models will be frustrated if not left behind. The methodology that worked in the 1940's and 50's will never work today. Old Church Model Core Values 1950-1960 Era New Church Model Core Values 2010-2020 Era Faith Fellowship Family Biblical Instruction (Faith) Prayer (Faith) Relational (Fellowship/Family) Caring Ministry (Family) Transformation (evangelism, spiritual formation) Old Cultural Setting New Cultural Setting External Culture External culture (society) … Read more
Come Out of Her – Leave the Dead to Bury Their Own Dead! 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 … Read more
What follows is my letter of resignation from the Presbyterian Church USA in 1990 over what I could see coming in the denomination. It was a prophetic vision anticipating the natural and the inevitable consequence when the opinions of men are elevated above the Word of God. That prophesy has come to full fruition 21 years later as this denomination has fallen into total apostasy with flagrant and boastful violation of the Word of God in sexual immorality. “By turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly…For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to … Read more
Hierarchical Model Nicolaitan Spirit – Nico = To Conquer/Laitan = the laity, the people. “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” Revelation 2:15, KJV. The error of the Nicolaitans was to teach that the priests were given secret and special knowledge not available to the people, and thus were also given the rights and privileges to administer the sacraments and operate in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, not available to the laity. This created a special holy, religious class of priests that were above the people and supposedly closer to God than ordinary Christians. It also created an unbiblical hierarchy where the only way to have access to God was through the priesthood and then the pope, thus putting a wall of separation between God and his people. This hierarchical structure also happens in independent, authoritarian churches and personality driven churches, where the pastor is seen as God’s voice to the people. That pyramid would be much simpler and would look something like this: But we have one High Priest, Jesus, who is the only Mediator between God and Man: “For there is one God, and one mediator between … Read more