Heard & Seen
From the Charlotte Observer:
In a close vote that reflected deep division, Presbyterian church leaders representing the Charlotte area signaled their support Saturday for ending their denomination's longstanding ban on gays and lesbians becoming pastors and elders.
In past years, the Charlotte Presbytery - the fourth largest in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - had backed the prohibition. But after a spirited, civil debate in the chapel at Johnson C. Smith University, the presbytery voted 133-124, with one abstention, to reverse itself.
That means that the seven-county Charlotte Presbytery is now on record as backing a proposed amendment to the denomination's constitution that would open the door to - though not automatically guarantee - ordination of homosexuals.
In a bit of irony, the paper quotes a female Assistant Pastor in opposition to the move:
"It was the right thing for the presbytery to do," said the Rev. Tom Tate of Charlotte's Plaza Presbyterian, one of four pastors - two on each side - who addressed the gathering. "While I am glad for those affected, I am sad that the close vote says the church may be so divided."
The proposed amendment weakens "The Fidelity and Chastity" section (G-6.0106b) governing the moral conduct of church officers. The task force's recommendation, report and rationale are available here.
The revised section deletes the following language:
Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
While retaining the language below:
Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.
It's not at all clear to me how an ordained minister can pledge to live a life obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge or repent of extramarital, pre-marital, or homosexual sin.
But then again, the task force arrived at this recommendation by allowing each individual uninterrupted and unlimited time to state their opinion and desired outcomes. What emerged, in their opinion, was "a Spirit filled revelation of persons, including a broadly diverse viewpoints and positions, that was received by the group with respect and awe. The very simply process of self declaration without interruption was profound, validated persons and led to an ethos of mutual respect even though those declarations were very different."
A "revelation of persons" that "validated persons" is bound to lead to plain contradictions of the word of God and rebellion against the Head of the Church.
Last week, the Lord granted me the privilege to attend the Worship God '08 conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries and Bob Kauflin. The conference was wonderfully cross-centered, full of joy, and instructive. I appreciate those brothers making the time beneficial to music neophytes like myself. The conference audio is posted here.
And I'd especially like to draw your attention to David Powlison's sermon, "Enduring Hardship with the Psalmist." I'm familiar with Powlison's very helpful written works, but this was the first time I've heard him speak. In the very laid back (he effortlessly preached in a Hawaiin shirt and sandals; not even the guy from Cayman could pull that off!), calm, and instructive tone I imagine from his books, he led us through an overview of many psalms and their relation to one another, opened up Psalm 28 in detail, and showed us Christ throughout. If folks are thinking about suffering, trying to comfort someone who is suffering, or simply want to understand many of the Psalms better, this is a great talk. Highly recommend it.
Recently, I read a lamentable statement from the leader of African-American pastors inside the PCUSA. It was lamentable because it made the gospel and the spiritual mission of the church secondary to social and political concerns.
This morning I came across this video of African American pastors inside the PCA. The video highlights the work of these pastors at church planting and spreading the Good News of Christ. As a Baptist, I rejoice at the faithful labors of these men because we have everything in common and share a spiritual mission and history far more important than social causes and concerns.
One man I respect in the faith was Presbyterian pastor Dr. Frances J. Grimke. He pastored 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. for 55 years! An African American, he was committed to the gospel and the word of God as the inerring truth of God. One is left to ask: which pastoral fraternity would Grimke join?