Thursday, September 18, 2008

Status Confessionis

Two groups, Beaver-Butler in Pennsylvania and San Diego Presbytery, in the Presbyterian (USA) denomination have essentially declared..status confessionis due to recent actions of the 218th General Assembly.. The term is new to me...but the concept is as old as Martin Luther, when he nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door.

In light of their declaration I have been reminded of one of my all time favorite quotes that has been frequently attributed to Martin Luther but comes from a great 19th century hymn writer, Elizabeth Rundle Charles:
"If I profess Christ with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." (Elizabeth Rundle Charles, The Chronicles of the Schoenberg Cotta Family (Thomas Nelson, 1864)

Here is the definition of status confessionis that I have been able to glean from the internet:

status confessionis: "a state of confessing," is a dire situation in which the church must stand up for the integrity of the gospel and the authority of the Word of God it confesses.

Scriptural Basis for Status Confessionis (NASB)
2 John 1:9-11 - Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,do not receive him in your house and do not give him a greeting: for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deed.

1 Corinthians 5:11 - I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.

Romans 16:17 - Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

Mark 6:11 - Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.

Titus 3:10: Reject a factious man after a first and second warning
Additionally...Ezekiel 33 and 34, Matt 18:6-9 and others.

In layman’s terms what has happened in this bold move, both groups have declared that the larger body (PCUSA) has departed from orthodoxy. "We discern multiple errors coming from the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that have breached covenanted confessional standing (Status Confessiones). These errors must be labeled and opposed lest we be guilty of failing to raise alarm or of leading "the least of His little ones astray." (Beaver-Butler group) The San Diego group is issuing their resolution in the form of an "overture" to the next GA meeting in 2010 to return to the interpretations held prior to the 217th GA.

Read the declarations and resolutions of both groups at the following links. I am proud to say that he Beaver-Butler group is continuing in the traditions as they were known when my father pastored the Park UP Church in Zelienople, Pa. in 1948-1950. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." 2Th 2:15

Beaver-Butler Group
San Diego Presbytery” (see San Diego Resolution)

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