In 2006 Colonial Presbyterian along with 6 other Heartland Presbytery churches, purchased a ¾ page ad in the local newspaper. The ad addressed the issues raised by the 217th General Assembly when they passed the Authoritative Interpretation (AI) that allows objections by candidates to existing ordination standards. The General Assembly said that a governing body can allow such exceptions or departures from the rules on a case-by-case basis if it determines that the departure does not involve an “essential” of Reformed faith or polity. To my knowledge the PC(USA) has not defined an “essential” of Reformed faith.
We received much criticism for this ad stating that we were making “much ado about nothing”. The entire ad can be viewed here: Colonial Ad
The ad stated that the seven churches were concerned that implementation of this AI would mean that any candidate for ordination could claim a scruple against whatever standard seemed particularly unsavory to them at the moment. In other words, “doing what seemed right in their own eyes”. The following is a portion of the 2006 ad which outlined our concerns:
"......... we cannot affirm the Recommendation that allows candidates for ordination (clergy, elders or deacons) to depart from our historic, biblical standards. Local license will become the rule as governing bodies each do “what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
We find ourselves in a place where our historic, biblical standards continue to be maintained in our constitution but will be open for debate on a local level. As a result, it would become possible for Presbyterian clergy, elders and deacons to be ordained who:
1. Do not affirm the deity of Jesus Christ.
2. Do not believe that it is essential for salvation to name Christ as Savior.
3. Do not believe that the Christian scriptures are the inspired, unique and
authoritative Word of God.
4. Do not promise or promote sexual fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness, but rather affirm and embrace a variety of alternative sexual lifestyles."
Colonial’s concerns were borne out this week when the Synod of the Pacific upheld the right of Lisa Larges, a lesbian candidate for ministry, to declare an objection (scruple) to the ordination standards that require fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness. This, I would assume, will be the first of a series of departures from the faith that will come down the slippery slopes upon which this scruple stands. The dimly lit lampstand of the PC(USA) appears, to me, to be flickering toward extinguishment.
“To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. “(Deut 32:35-36)
See stories here, here and here.