Shuck and Jive

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Shuck and Jive: The Most Reformed Blog on the Web

I have been checking out a few other blogs as well as the Layman and so forth. My name appears every now and then as a supposed example of everything that is wrong in our denomination. I have been taken out of context, misrepresented, and slandered. In these blogs and letters to editors, people have been urged to contact denominational officials to do something about me--the heretic.

But I don't take it personally. Because it isn't about me. There is a power struggle in this denomination. Some clergy want to leave the denomination and take the presbytery's property with them. Others want control over the denomination. There are two tactics. The first is to encourage sessions to withhold funds in order to dry up the presbyteries, general assembly and staff. The second tactic attempts to paint the denominational leaders as apostate. Here is how that works:

  • Rather than charge me with doing something wrong, which they certainly could do...
  • Rather than actually meet and talk with me, which they certainly could do...
...Instead, they jump to the conclusion, and try to convince anyone in the blog world, that I am already guilty of heresy. They encourage all of these people who do not even know me, to write letters and e-mails, demanding that I be "disciplined." They accuse my presbytery of being negligent and bad, in order to embarrass people in my presbytery. It is called power politics.

What they think they are going to get is either...
a) that I will be "disciplined" and then silenced (which is not really a big prize); or
b) if I am not disciplined, it shows evidence that the denomination is corrupt by not calling on the carpet its obvious heretics. This is the big prize. They want leverage in order to steal the church's property.

All of this is done without one word to me. Guilty without trial. Guilty without even an accusation. Guilty by the court of bloggers. Because I am colorful and outspoken regarding social justice issues and theological scholarship, I have become the poster child for the corruption of the denomination.

Now the good news. That tactic will not work. I am not a heretic. I, of course, have done nothing wrong. I am a Reformed pastor. I have been ordained for 15 years. I have publicly proclaimed my ordination vows on several occasions and by the grace of God and with humility, I carry them out. I teach and I preach Reformed theology. I have done so. I am doing so. I will continue to do so. If anyone would like to visit with me, discuss the over 450 blog posts I have made or the hundreds of sermons I have given over the years, or the papers I have written, or the countless number people I have helped on their spiritual path, or the positive work that I have done in and for the PCUSA and for Christ, do come on over. We'll hoist a sarsparilla.

By the way, the staff of our presbyteries, synods, and general assembly do good work for this church. The PCUSA is a good denomination. I am honored and humbled to serve Christ through it.


  1. Now wait a minute John! I'm more Reformed than you are!


  2. No, Bob, I am more reformed than you.

    I love Calvin, yes I do!
    I love Calvin, how 'bout you?

  3. Calvinists make better lovers

    Because we have tulips!

  4. John,
    I'm not sure what has precipitated this post at this time, as you've been rather tame in your recent postings with Bob.

    But, having said that- I suspect those who read you are taking you seriously. You're a clever chap, well spoken, and quite a good communicator. I can't imagine you've been misunderstood, you're too good at what you do, for that to be much of a leg to stand on.

    And as to rumor and innuendo-- how does that work on a blog? Your words are right there for all the world to see. The innuendo thing, I could possible see... but not quite sure what it means. You say provocative things-- specifically to provoke-- as a part of your teaching ministry as an officer in the PCUSA. Its rather bad form to play the victim, when folks begin to take you seriously. How in the world are people supposed to take you, if not at your word(s)?

    Having said that, I've enjoyed your ongoing conversation with Bob. Both of you are excellent story tellers, and I swear Bob and I served the same congregation- the whole coming forward for communion- hoo boy.


  5. regressivepresby

    I heard John referring to those who say that something should be done about John, why doesn't his presbytery do something about him but don't do anything themselves. As Paul Jensen has proven, any officer in the PCUSA can bring charges against any MWS in the PCUSA. So why don't those who say John should be disciplined bring charges against him?

  6. I think John is pointing out a plausible scenario where power politicoes are able to benefit from these sorts of attacks whether charges are brought against him or not - and all by doing nothing concrete! If he's censured, then the denomination works and it looks less reasonable to be talking about leaving all the time. If he isn't censured, even better! The denomination is corrupt and it looks like a reasonable thing to leave.

    And all this without doing more than typing.

    I of course don't know if this is actually going on, but it does fit the evidence (lots of accusations with no concrete action or charges).

  7. Bob-
    So- in order to have integrity, one must become litigious along the order Paul Rolf Johnson, eh? I'm not sure there are too many who have the stomach for that. Indeed one can... but it seems, the, uhm polite thing to do, is to let one's own presbytery handle things in house. If they cannot or will not, then indeed, outside officers may need to act, stomach or not. But, litigation is such an ugly, last resort, isn't it best to warn, to pray, to argue, to attempt to win over, before one brings disciplinary charges? Isn't discipline's purpose restoration and reconciliation?

    All I'm saying is, John does a good job of communicating. People may be listening.

    Doug, what is a power politico? Its a real question.

    John, I apologize for taking up your blog. As much as I disagree with you, you do a good job. Although, hardly the most reformed blog on the internet... really, that IS hyperbole.

  8. @ Regressivepresby

    Its a term I probably made up - I do that all the time, intentionally and not. A politico (or pol) is a person involved in politics, so a power politico is someone involved in power politics basically. Politico is good for describing people who are politically active (and have political power perhaps) but who aren't politicians per se.

  9. Regressive, in the mote-plank department, I would remind you that you are also on record endorsing the enforcement of fundamentals, something the PC(USA)'s predecessor body explicitly rejected over 80 years ago. In the spirit of your criticism of this post by John, I move that we start judicial proceedings against Regressivepresby and try to get him expelled for the crime of trying to make himself the Second Coming of Machen! Just kidding, of course... that's the problem with being a liberal--it's hard to be consistently nasty.

    Doug, I agree with you, with a twist. The Laymanites don't want John disciplined, because it undermines their case for schism. They don't even want to bring the case up before a Presbytery or PJC because it would get all the facts on the table, and folks would see that John isn't a heretic, he's just someone who challenges his congregation to think critically and for themselves. They need John as a scapegoat. Whispers on blogs, quotes out of context, and the damn Layman do have a powerful cumulative effect.

    John's blog is certainly one of the most Reformed blogs I've seen on the net, in the truest sense of that word. Not the J. Gresham Machen list of Fundamentals kind of "Reformed" theology, but the kind of questioning and exploration that got Martin Luther exiled to Wartburg and caused John Calvin (nee Jean Cauvin) to flee his home country permanently. The reformers were hell-raisers!

    Vive la ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, secundu Verbum Dei!