Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Loving Discipline: What a Rush!

The LayMAN linked to this article about Rev. Jim Yearsley.

He is the guy that filed a complaint against Rev. Janet Edwards. I found this interesting quote:

Yearsley acknowledges that the Presbyterian Church has changed and evolved over hundreds of years. The organization now ordains women, for example. But he insists that the ruling enforcing marriage between only one man and one woman must always remain intact.

"There's a difference between ordaining women and the idea of God's plan for all of humanity," he said. "It's become a cultural issue. But for us, this about the authoritative word of God, which you can't change to make your desire appropriate."

As I recall the arguments against the ordination of women were also about "the authoritative word of God." I am not sure I can even follow Rev. Jim's logic. But then again, prejudice is rarely logical.

Just for fun, readers might be interested in what Rev. Yearsley wrote about me:

In absolute candor, I could not in good conscience sit down and discuss and worship with some of those in our denomination who proudly and loudly proclaim their apostasy and heresies – and, yet, are permitted free reign to run amok. Just as an example, I have zero interest in anything that John Shuck might have to say on any subject related to faith. He holds ordination as a minister of Word and sacrament and, yet, he publicly makes statements such as this:
"… the bottom line for me is I really don't care what the Bible or Reformed theology says about this or that or if its opinion on this or that is presumptuous enough to tell me how to live my life. I can make my own decisions. …"
He follows that up by saying:
"And this means that … if even 500 verses of the Bible and if Jesus himself proclaimed on the Mount of Transfiguration and if Jesus appeared to me on my back deck in the glory of his resuscitated corpse and stated to me as clearly as the four p.m. sun is hot, that homoerotic love is a sin and that if I support gays and lesbians in their relationships I would join them in the fires of hell, I would look him in his piercing eyes and say (if I had the courage of my convictions): 'Fine then. Send me to your hell. You are wrong, Jesus.'"
I don't want to converse with him, exchange views with him or worship with him. Mr. Shuck seems, on the evidence at least, to be well outside of the Christian faith, to say nothing of our Reformed heritage. Understand that he is just one of many. The list is lengthy. We have people in the Louisville offices of this denomination who embrace and promote pagan ideology in the name of diversity and openness. Recommendation 2 might be viable if we had a common frame of reference to start with. In too many cases, we do not. In an ethical presbytery where our fellowship was truly honored, Mr. Shuck and others like him would be facing discipline.

Jim Yearsley
Tampa, Fla.

Golly, what is it about those Rev. Jims and their loving discipline?


  1. "...permitted free reign to run amok!"
    Imagine that!
    Shuck run amok!
    Shuck amok!

  2. Hahaha! Shuck amok! I like that!

    Dear Mr. Yearsley,

    If the choice is between Christian love and "Christian faith"/"Reformed heritage", I'll stick with Christian love, thanks.

  3. This is long, Chris, but I think it is elegant, and it does demonstrate some the difference between Christian love and Reformed Heritage.

    Beginning with a rant from Yearsley, the exchange shows the crux of the division within the PCUSA, the sad meanness of the mindset of exclusion, the corruption of misinterpreted doctrine. Then it resolves with an excellent rejoinder.

    Approving pagans for ministry
    August 24, 2007
    Mr. Stuart [Letters, August 23, 2007 **copied below] does not identify the presbytery where this latest example of apostasy run amok was displayed. It really doesn't matter because I am certain (with the possible exception of San Diego) that this type of failure happens in all of them.

    I, and every other presbyter paying attention, has seen our presbyteries approve, ordain and install men and women who do not hold any essential beliefs in common with Reformed faith and practice.

    If you attend the oral parts of trial for a candidate and ask specific theological questions, you may well be castigated after the vote for being harsh or mean-spirited. I have experienced that for asking a candidate, "For who did Jesus die?" Her answer was entirely universalist: "Everyone who has ever lived." But what the heck, she was young and pleasant and friendly, so we passed her anyway.

    Mr. Stuart, the marks of the true church are where the Word is truly preached, the sacraments rightly administered and discipline is upheld; read your confessions. The apostasy you witnessed is possible because we do not exercise discipline.

    If you are really incensed about this, may I make a suggestion? As a witness to this, I urge you to bring an accusation against the candidate and to file a remedial action against the presbytery. Until we begin to hold apostate leadership accountable, they will continue to demean and destroy the denomination.

    Everything you need to know about how to do this is available to you in the Book of Order. You might also seek the counsel of others who are standing against apostasy by doing this, as well.

    Again, I want to make the point that, unless someone does something other than complain, nothing will change. Good luck.
    Rev. Jim Yearsley
    Tampa, Fla.

    A response to Jim Yearsley
    August 27, 2007
    I guess I'm stupid, but I have to say that I am more than a little confused by the example of apostasy in your letter [Letters, August 24, 2007].

    If it is apostate to say that Jesus died for everyone, both believers and non-believers, then wouldn't that mean that every evangelical is apostate who has told a non-believer that they should accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior because Jesus died for them?

    Shouldn't they be saying, "if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then Jesus will have died for you?" And doesn't that shoot a big hole in the prevenient grace thing?
    Meghan Foote
    Greeley, Colo.

    Thanks, Meghan, for your concern
    August 28, 2007
    Thanks, Meghan, for your concern. However, there are so many places to start a response to you that I am almost a loss for what to say first.

    In your letter [Letters, August 27, 2007], you said, "... I am more than a little confused. …"

    I agree. You seem to think that any evangelical is, by definition, well-grounded in a systematic theology which makes sense and can, in fact, readily equip the saints with effective doctrine. That is the first error. Evangelical is a term which has become so watered down and diffuse as to be nearly meaningless. I try not to even use the term evangelical. There are plenty of progressive liberals in the church who will tell you – with a straight face – that they are evangelicals.

    You go on to say: "If it is apostate to say that Jesus died for everyone, both believers and non-believers. …"

    That statement is so far outside of Reformed theology as to be, yes, apostate. In point of fact, any evangelical teaching such a universalist (and un-Scriptural) position is apostate. Scripture is quite clear on the doctrine of election and, by the way, grace. Christ died for the elect.

    Further on you say: "... if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then Jesus will have died for you? And doesn't that shoot a big hole in the prevenient grace thing?"

    Prevenient grace is a Wesleyan/Methodist/Arminian construct frequently used to dispute the doctrine of limited Atonement. As Presbyterians and members of the Reformed church, we reject Arminianism in favor of the Calvinist doctrines codified at Dordt. So, I guess the answer to your question is, "I hope so."
    Rev. Jim Yearsley
    Tampa, Fla.

    A response to the discussion regarding limited Atonement
    August 31, 2007
    In reference to the recent letters regarding the debate over limited Atonement, I find the correspondence of Revs. Benton [Letters, August 28, 2007] and Yearsley [Letters, August 24, 2007] to be theologically tendentious, and both ignore Scripture and The Book of Confessions.

    See John 12:32, I Timothy 2:3-5 and Colossians 19-20, among others, that offer a Biblical response to the idea that Jesus died only for the "elect."

    Also, these words from The Book of Confessions in the Second Helvetic Confession and the Addendum to the Westminster Confession of Faith:
    "And although God knows who are his, and here and there mention is made of the small number of elect, yet we must hope well of all, and not rashly judge any man to be a reprobate. … the doctrine of God's eternal decree is held in harmony with his love for all people, his gift of his Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and his readiness to bestow his saving grace on all who seek it; that concerning those who perish, the doctrine of God's eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine that God does not desire the death of any sinner, but has provided in Christ a salvation sufficient for all."
    Contrary to Rev. Yearsley, the Canons of Dordt are not part of our Book of Confessions and do not bind our conscience.

    Does this mean universalism? Of course not; it does mean that God is God is God and we are not and that the final disposition of creation and all its parts, including sinners like us, is far beyond the comprehension of creatures bound by historical particularity and prone to error. To impose limits on the redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is, however, quite heretical.
    Rev. W. Patterson Lyles

    Touche’! Beautiful! Take that Yearsley!

    This, below, is Johns Stuart’s original letter that got Yearsley riled…

    Presbytery approves candidate who doesn't affirm ordination questions
    August 23, 2007
    Hebrews 3: 6: "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."

    I couldn't believe what happened at our presbytery meeting yesterday. A candidate for the ministry made, what I believe to be, two apostate statements and still had her call upheld! In front of everyone, she stated that she wouldn't be bound by the Scriptures, and that Christ was not the only redeemer of humankind.

    I asked her directly if she believed Jesus to be the sole Redeemer of the world, to which she answered, "I would hesitate to say that.That would be putting God in too small a box for me."

    So, it's okay to put Jesus in a small box? It's all right to diminish His Lordship and ministry of salvation?

    When did we start to become Deists and Universalists in the Presbyterian Church (USA)? What are they teaching our candidates for ministry at seminary? Why is it that no one sees the link between accepting Universalist pastors into our pulpits and the decline of church membership?

    The first Christians were surrounded by thousands of pagan gods and idols. Do we honestly think that if Jesus was just a localized, personalized redeemer that His earliest of followers would have allowed themselves to become martyrs? Do we really believe that first century Christians refused to say "Caesar is Lord" before Roman authorities and be led to savage deaths in the Coliseum if they thought that salvation could be found outside of Christianity? They knew that, to be in and of the house of Christ, they had to hold on to their courage in the face of cruelty and terrifying persecution.

    We have become so Biblically illiterate, so theologically ignorant and so arrogantly apostate that we don't see ourselves becoming blatantly heretical through wanting to be culturally sophisticated and religiously tolerant. Our need to be liked and courteous is leading us down a narcissistic path that takes us outside of God's Kingdom and Christ's household.

    Unless we put the brakes on this apostasy now, unless we draw lines of belief in the sand, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is going to continue to die. God will not bless or honor that which does not honor His Son.

    We need to seriously start reading the Bible again and stop using it as a pathetic panacea to ease our consciences. We need to understand that Christianity is not a leisure pursuit that we shape to fit our lives. We need to recognize that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation; the only way, truth and life; and that our work in the world, according to the first stated end of the Church in our current Book of Order, is to preach the Gospel in order to save humankind.

    I am fed up to the core with faithless statements and false ideas. I am a sinner saved by Christ alone, whose work of salvation saves the world alone. There is no other name given to humanity under heaven that can save the earth. There is no other Savior than Jesus Christ.

    Lord Jesus, please stop the church from wounding itself by giving up age-old beliefs about you. Grant us the courage to stand up to those who would diminish your ministry and devalue your Gospel.

    We are all sinners in need of saving. We are all imperfect in need of redemption. Help us to do what is right and not what we think to be right.
    John Stuart

  4. "I have zero interest in anything that John Shuck might have to say on any subject related to faith."

    Could'a fooled me.

  5. Okay, I am now more creeped out by the weird S&M subtext to "loving discipline" than ever.


  6. I'll be honest here John, and I really don't know you other than reading down through your blog and seeing your response on Pomomusings.

    But if that is really what you said, verbatim, in the person's quotation of you. Wow. I don't know what to say. You could find an easy home in the UUs, but as for orthodox Christianity.


    Being that it is God who will ultimately judge what is true and not you, this sort of thinking is deeply disquieting to me.

  7. Hey GreatWhite, welcome.

    "You could find an easy home in the UUs, but as for orthodox Christianity.


    Thanks, but I am quite at home in the PC(USA).

    "Being that it is God who will ultimately judge what is true and not you, this sort of thinking is deeply disquieting to me."

    Being disquieted is not such a bad thing. It leads to critical thinking.

    You might check out the rest of my blog including the sections from which those quotes were taken.


  8. John,

    Where is the post from which the quote is taken? I'm interested to see if the surrounding context changes the way it comes off.

    Nathan Myers

  9. This came from a series of conversations I had on-line with a colleague, Bob Campbell, called conversations with Bob. Go to the sidebar, scroll all the way down. This particular post is entitled Authority and Truth (8/10)

    Presbyweb picked up this post and all the fundies got riled.

    Hell, I write a lot more controversial stuff than this. Just dig around the Shuck and Jive archives.

    Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein claims to have found Jesus there.