Saturday, February 2, 2008

Presbyterian Layman

Dear Elders,

Some of you likely receive The Layman as I do.

I have read it for years, carefully noting their work since the early 70s, sometimes agreeing with their theology but always saddened by their rhetoric and their deep-seated desire to leave the Presbyterian Church and form their own group.

In spite of their repeated protests about staying in the denomination and changing it from within, I always felt a deeper current heading toward disassociation.

With the formation now of the non-geographical New Wine Skins Presbytery affiliated with the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church), their long-standing wish is being realized. They’ve come out of the closet!

I’m writing to you after carefully reading the latest issue of the Layman. I could hardly manage it; such is my disappointment and sadness.

As I read, I had the feeling I was eavesdropping on a terrorist conclave exulting in its latest suicide bombing. On every page, delight in our woes and a sense of self-righteousness that I find disturbingly inconsistent with the Christ they claim to know so much better than I do.

Their claims to know Christ better, their claims to have a clearer grasp of Scripture, their claims to have the theological high ground on homosexuality, marriage and issues of choice, leave little room for conversation. Like radical terrorists, they have labeled folks like me apostate, thus negating the need and the possibility of conversation. After all, why waste time chatting with a servant of Satan?

I write with a heavy heart, encouraging you as Elders to be all the more thoughtful about your faith, and deeply grateful for our Presbyterian Church (USA) identity. This is the church of my ordination; I signed on the dotted line, and so did the pastors and elders who have left to form their own group in affiliation with the EPC. My loyalties run deep and my commitment remains.

I wish my angry friends could take a deep breath and see how graciously our LORD is at work in our fields, and I wish they could find in their hearts the gospel truths of fellowship and love.

I pray for them and wish them well, though I suspect what history amply reveals will be their story: schismatic groups carry a soul-wound that never heals – the need to justify an action condemned by their own conscience.

The volume of their rhetoric leads me to think: “thou dost protest too much,” as if repeating the same arguments and declaring them all the more loudly could make them right.

Just some thoughts on a Saturday morning.

Blessings and Joy, and all the Grace you can use, and then some.

February 2, 2008