Troubling Times Among Presbyterians
|We live in spiritually
troubling times, but because of this, facts must be faced. The former
Protestant churches now often have become fully secular with liberal
pastors. We should not give up on
such churches because greater is He that is within us, than he that is
in the world. (I John 4:4) Redress is
only a matter of time. The pendulum is swinging to the Biblical and
Apostolic side in world Christianity
and away from our provincial liberalism.
Our present need is to rescue the faithful who now find themselves spiritually imprisoned in new liberal and secular churches that were once far nearer to the Apostolic Biblical faith. The faithful still among their members are pastored by patronizing liberals who, being the product of liberal seminaries, generally hold conservative religion or Biblicism in complete contempt. The faith that once their fathers held in these churches is now no more there. It is not a matter of people deserting the church. Far more, it is an organized church deserted by the pastors gone chasing after the golden calf of liberalism.
However, many are now recognizing that the Apostolic faith of experience and belief is not compatible with a liberal religion that denies the existence of a personal God, that a Spirit that is God exists, that the religious interpretation of a dream (common in the Bible) is not applicable to life. (It was in a dream the Holy Family was warned to flee into Egypt--Matthew 1: 20). Generally liberal pastors look down on all experiences of God acting directly or indirectly. In other words the plum fruit of the New Testament has been withered by liberal skepticism into a prune dried out with non-belief. The liberal has little faith. Liberals exist on being skeptical about God and in all things. But while we may be skeptical on some things, we cannot be skeptical and negative on all things about God as most liberals seem to be. To be patronized by the liberal intelligentsia, refer to the Bible. To be mocked by them, read the Bible.
But there is more at stake than belief. This liberalism involves action. When visiting a church in a small town in South Carolina I was told the minister was divorced, his new wife was divorced, and the two of them had his children, her children and their children in the Hollywood way. The excuse given for this was that such behavior is common today. This means simply: instead of Christianity changing the world, the rules of the world have now changed Christianity. While sometimes I recognize the need for change, I do not see that changing the church to fit the common practices of the world is a satisfactory reason to change. The rule now seems to be: degrading films first, degraded faith follows.
How did this happen? I can tell you of the Presbyterian Church USA. Originally the Presbyteries that are the dioceses of Presbyterian government voted at Presbytery meetings. Whoever had the majority of the voters won. The voters were made up of congregational representatives to the Presbytery meetings and then the ministers of churches. The ministers tended to vote liberal because they had been graduated from ever increasingly liberal seminaries and trained therein to be liberal and skeptical first. But the original majority of voters at Presbytery were the church elders and congregational representatives who tended to be conservative. Therefore for many years the Presbyterian Church remained conservative and somewhat Biblical.
However, the situation of conservative rule widely angered the liberal ministers. Their problem basically was how to get more liberal ministers in the Presbyteries to vote against the conservative laymenís rule. The liberals found a way. A large number of liberal graduates of seminaries began to pack the Presbyteries. These liberal ministers did not always serve churches, but had other fringe jobs in the community such as teachers, college administrators and many other occupations. They usually, but not always voted and viewed the religious world as liberals.
The new result was Presbyteries were now purposely gerrymandered to include more liberals. Liberals began to win the majority of voting contests. This was in spite of the fact most Presbyterians were usually conservative in theology. But the liberal Presbyterian Church USA merged with the rapidly becoming liberal Presbyterian Church US by liberal victories through voter gerrymandered presbyteries. Or so it seemed to many. The union formed the present excessively liberal main line denomination, the USA Church whose membership majority is conservative theologically, but whose liberal leadership minority is very liberal in my view. The liberals entirely run the show with, I suggest, a remarkable insensitivity.
However the ultimate fault lay in the seminaries that uniformly propagandized the young Presbyterian ministerial students into liberals. So the Presbyterian Church USA is now ruled by an elite liberal minority of ministers who have most of the bureaucratic offices and most of the organizational machinery behind them. One thing they do not have is all the Presbyterians behind them. I think they do not have a near majority of Presbyterians behind them. In fact it has been my experience that the majority of Presbyterians privately abhor their professional denominational organization and the bureaucracies that run it. Many members have left the denomination, but other members have stayed on, to be martyred Sunday after Sunday out of duty to a larger calling, to a vision of a church beyond and above American liberalism.
The new liberal elite of the Presbyterian Church USA think they have done marvelous things. They are now trying to force the ordination of homosexual ministers down the throats of an objecting majority of their members. Many of these members strongly object. Strongly is an understatement. The homosexual issue aside, the most bothersome thing right now is how, and that this liberal elite have cleverly seized the denominational leadership positions. This is in spite of the fact their views in no way represent the majority of the church members or a consensus of the church members.
The liberal elite are in power in the denomination through clever sleight of hand in voting. They are forcing down the throats of the majority of the members a liberal position the majority are entirely negative on. But here is a breath-taking hypocrisy! The liberals have the gall to brag about what a great democracy their denomination is, while a liberal minority elite force down the throats of the majority some issues and a world view that is entirely repulsive to most of them. As you too may see, the situation in that denomination heavily parallels the political situation that is going on in America today, at least in my view.
However, there are other Presbyterian Churches that I see as not having a part of a liberal elite power grab like the one in the Presbyterian Church USA. These are the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Whatever else they may have done or will do, on this issue I give them hail. But many other mainline churches are in a similar position to the members of the Presbyterian Church USA. They are opposed to the liberal madness in control of their religious or political organizational government that is wrecking them. As for the liberals, forgive them Father, for they are too smug, self-righteous and comfortable in the main stream to have any idea of the way they are ruining the churches.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.