Sunday, January 27, 2013

Presbyterians Pontificate Progressive Points as Doctrine

I was raised in the Presbyterian church. I was baptized in that church, too.  My parents were active in the church. My husband was also raised in the Presbyterian church.  Articles written by members of the Presbyterian church, therefore, catch my attention.  In recent years, though, I am left with a feeling of disappointment.  

The reason my husband and I no longer support the church is because the politicization has penetrated too deeply.  We don't think God is either a Democrat or a Republican.  We think God has bigger issues to deal with than American politics.

We believe in the separation of church and state.   

An article I read recently was a glowing account of the Inaugural speech delivered by President Obama.  It was further justification for our feelings towards our church.

Obama’s speech, his second inaugural address, repeatedly cited civic and religious doctrines — namely the God-given equality extolled by the “founding creed” of the Declaration of Independence — to essentially reconsecrate the country to the common good and to the dignity of each person.
It was a faith-infused event that recognized both the original sins as well as the later atonements of America’s history, especially on race, which was front and center as the nation’s first African-American president took the oath on the holiday commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And Obama and other speakers vividly traced the nation’s tortuous path from slavery to civil rights — from the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago to the March on Washington 50 years ago, the latter presided over by King.

No mention of this, though:

Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of civil-rights activist Medgar Evers, delivered the invocation at President Obama's second inauguration today. She is the first woman and the first layperson ever to do so; ordained pastors or priests have always performed the invocation prior to Evers-Williams. 

The author was more concerned about noting over and over the elements of Obama's speech which reached out to gays and Latinos.  Rich with irony is the lack of criticism that Team Obama disinvited the first pastor invited to deliver the benediction, due to some anti-gay speeches made in his earlier career.  Christians defend him by saying he was delivering the message in reference to Biblical text.  Also, Obama's thoughts on the rights of gay Americans conveniently "evolved" to include the acceptance of gay marriage - only as a state issue - in the last months of his last presidential campaign.

Nevertheless, the article insists this Inaugural speech proves a Fourth Great Awakening.  No, I am not kidding.

“If you had any doubt that we are in the middle of a Fourth Great Awakening, you just missed one of the greatest inauguration speeches in American history,” Diana Butler Bass, a historian of American religion, wrote on Facebook as she watched the speech.

I don't remember any glowing reports written about former President George W. Bush, though I do remember much angst from the left side of the aisle that the man embraced his religious beliefs.  Usually he was accused of exhibiting a false sort of religious expression - as though he was faking it.  

So, I googled it.  I came across this guy:


Social commentator, writer and radio commentator on Minnesota Public Radio's "All Things Considered" (MPR), 91.1 FM. Pastor, Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska,MN. Live and breath reflection on the spoken and hidden convictions that shape the news and personal life. Dyed-in-the-wool Phillies and Twins fan!

And his blog post from August, 2012 HERE.  See, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan are bad, as they pose with military equipment. Martin Luther King, Jr. is good. It is a nonsensical comparison yet this is what is expected today in the intersection of politics and religion.  National security and non-violent protests are not in the same argument for common sense people.

The First Presbyterian Church in Houston doesn't seem to be too thrilled with the overtly liberal agenda pushed by a growing number in the church.  

One of the largest Presbyterian churches in the country, located here in Houston, is voting this Sunday on whether or not to enter into a discussion of what its ultimate affiliation should be with its denomination — the Presbyterian Church USA
 The minister clearly states it is not just the matter of interpreting gay rights in a church's doctrine, but the overall direction of the church.

In May of 2011, The Presbyterian Church USA, or PC USA, voted to allow openly gay clergy.  Just this past summer, PC USA narrowly defeated a motion that would create a path to same-sex marriages. First Presbyterian Church senior pastor Birchfield says issues over homosexuality and the church aren't what's pushing them into having a vote."No, at this point it's really not about gay marriage. It's really more about the fundamental differences in how we interpret scripture and how we view the nature and work of Christ."church document posted on its website lists the theological drifts from PC USA.  Bullet points include defeated motions on the "singular saving of Jesus Christ," encouragement to not use words like "Lord" and phrases like "spiritual blindness" and only a narrow defeat on the redefinition of marriage.Birchfield says he has no end game in mind.  But he does hope that the church body this Sunday votes to have a discussion."My biggest hope is that should we go into the process that we will allow the process to lead us to the conclusion about what our options are at the end."
Yes, this is a discussion long past due.  By taking this vote, First Presbyterian Church in Houston leads the way in the process.

1 comment:

Holly Hansen said...

Very sad. This is why believers are leaving the watered-down, politicized main stream denominations in favor of those that focus on Biblical truth not politics. Thanks for a great post.