(Tim) For the record, I'm disappointed Rocky Mountain Presbytery's City Church in Denver was allowed to take the PCA's ball and go home without being disciplined for her rejection of biblical sexuality and polity. A plant of the Presbyterian Church in America, she (and particularly her pastor) should have heard a clear "No" from her presbytery, somewhere or sometime. Instead, she saw her presbytery enmeshed in a bunch of split votes that demonstrated tepid leadership, at best; and trendy postmodern commitments to biblical sexuality, at worst.
What would a pastor or session have to do in order to receive a clear disciplinary "No" from a presbytery of the PCA today in this matter of sexuality?
I can hear some responding, "No one's ordained a woman elder or pastor, yet."
If we think it's possible to avoid declaring the boundaries of biblical sexuality at every point leading up to the eldership, but then to hold firm there, our problems are much deeper than the biblical doctrine of sexuality...
Rather, they are lodged in the nature of the offices of pastor and elder; the gift of discernment and its use in church controversy; the blessing of church discipline in leading souls and congregations back to Scriptural unity; the sins of conniving at heterodox doctrine and practice and mollycoddling rebels; the sin of naivety; and the authority and dignity of the presbytery as a court of the church.
So now, Rocky Mountain Presbytery has ceded City Church's departure and wants General Assembly to study--what?--where she should have drawn the line last year or the year before?
A study committee on sexuality would be helpful, I'm sure. Note: Not a study committee on women deacons, alone. Our church's problem with sexuality is far broader than the office of deacon and the mandate of the study committee should not be limited to this narrow issue.
But as we appoint a study committee, there should be a broad
acknowledgment among us that it is the failure of local
judicatories--specifically sessions and presbyteries--that has brought
us to this place.
Again and again, sub-biblical ecclesiastical practices well-known among us have cried out for the loving discipline of our presbytery. Again and again, bad doctrine appearing in published articles, papers, and position statements issued by men under the discipline of our presbyteries have cried out for loving guidance from fellow presbyters. Again and again, churches being devoured by wolves have awaited the compassionate discipline of those who love God's Word and the purity and unity that obedience to that Word bears as its precious fruit.
Instead, we sit by wringing our hands over the horror of controversy,
wondering how to escape it lest we be thought to be a denomination,
presbytery, or pastor that... Believes something? Is committed to
guarding the good deposit? Thinks the place that deposit might be
attacked in the western world today is the doctrine of sexuality?
Meanwhile Cedar Springs, City Church San Francisco, City Church Denver,
and a whole host of churches still in the PCA do as they please.
Brashly. With chutzpah.
Ah yes, study committees.
We're repeating the endless error of American presbyterians who trust study committees to do nasty work that would better be handled by loving, local, personal, compassionate, discerning, biblical church discipline.