Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Don't We Belong?

I read this today at the LayMAN:
The institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in its present state has forfeited any rightful claim to belong to the true Church of Jesus Christ.
This is the opening sentence of "An Evangelical Declaration" by Mateen Elass, a PC(USA) minister from Oklahoma. He blogs here.

If it isn't obvious to all, this is part of the hysteria over the denomination slowly coming to the recognition that gays are people too. Rev. Elass and others think that gays primarily are sinners who should do a lot of repenting. Since many of us in the denomination (perhaps a majority now?) see it differently, then Jesus is angry with the whole lot of us and it is a sad day in Mudville.

I'm not sad.

I am happy that the denomination is becoming at least a little bit more inclusive to LGBT folks. I think Rev. Elass is mistaken that we have "forfeited any rightful claim to belong to the true church of Jesus Christ."

We do belong. All of us, including Rev. Elass.


  1. When "evangelicals" are allowed to define the terms and control the debate then the PCUSA has left the fold, but just as Horatio found more things in heaven and earth than ever he dreamed Christianity has been and is so diverse as to include us still.

  2. "ceased to be part of the church of Jesus Christ"... wow, are they making up a new reformation: Salvation by Homophobia Alone? (What's that in Latin, Sola Homophoba?)

  3. I love this post.

    Especially the very last line.

  4. It's always disheartening to be misrepresented. My statement is hardly homophobic, but deals with much larger theological and moral issues in the PCUSA which have taken us far afield from the plain sense of Scripture and the guidance of our Confessional documents. You may not agree with me that that's a bad thing, but please don't place me in a little box that you can so easily dismiss as homophobic. Thank you for your future graciousness.

  5. I misrepresented nothing. This whole declaration, the little potluck you have planned in August, is about the passage of amendment A.

    From your article:

    By its recent decision to provide a way for unrepentant, practicing GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] persons to serve as ordained leadership in our midst, the PCUSA has declared holy what the Scriptures unequivocally call sin, denying divine revelation in favor of cultural captivity.

    You can pretend that the ordination change is about denying Jesus, the Bible, and whatever else, but that is nothing more than theological gobbledygook in a feeble attempt to mask your prejudice.

    You're welcome.

  6. "the PCUSA has declared holy what the Scriptures unequivocally call sin, denying divine revelation in favor of cultural captivity."

    That is just so wrong. I wish folks like Elass would show us where our current Form of Government reads that way with regard to ordination. The fact is, it doesn't read that way and it now conforms more closely to the wording found in the more conservative Presbyterian denominations' Forms of Government than it used to.

    It really is just homophobia on their part.

    I noticed Elass’ blog is attracting the usual flies.

  7. I can't keep all these "Declarations" straight anymore.

    These fundies had 30 years to do something and the best they can come up with is yet another ridiculous "we can't stand the dirty queers" declaration for the peanut gallery to sign?

    What I have never understood about the fundies is the absolute and enormous gap between their rhetoric (ie. The dirty queers are taking us all to hell) and their flaccid response to same (therefore we must write and sign yet another useless declaration.)

    Contrast that to our message (homophobia is a sin) and our actions (therefore we have changed the ordination standards.)

    If they actually believed what they wrote, they would have been gone decades ago. Instead, they just throw tantrums.

    Oh, and the Irony of folks who wouldn't recognize real Presbyterian theology making such statements never fails to amuse.

    It seems one can indeed make whine from sour grapes.

  8. Oh, and the irony of their refusing to recognize that their sad little pocket knife of "cultural captivity" cuts both ways makes me laugh.

    Pot, meet kettle.

  9. "this is part of the hysteria over the denomination slowly coming to the recognition that gays are people too. Rev. Elass and others think that gays primarily are sinners who should do a lot of repenting."

    This is very harsh and probably not fair. Has anyone really said or implied that gays are not people? In fact, isn't it only people who can sin and repent?

  10. @Alan

    I think you nailed it regarding rhetoric v. action. Do you know of any marriage equality overtures headed toward the next GA?

  11. I don't yet. (Though I've been out of the loop for a while during our move, so there may be something I haven't seen yet.). But I would imagine Baltimore Presbytery will be bringing something. That's usually their area, God love 'em.

    And now that LGBT folks can be ordained, we'll have an even larger voting block at both GA and the Presbyteries to get something passed.

    If the people who have been threatening to leave over the last 30 years did so, it could be a done deal tomorrow. However given their habit of making threats with no action, I won't hold my breath on that one. It won't ever be many who actually leave, despite the over-eager threats of schism. But it only takes a few.

    Even so, getting some form of marriage passed isn't going to take even a fraction of the time that the ordination argument took. A substantial fraction of the members already live in a place where marriage or civil unions are legal, and as every day passes that God fails to answer the prayers of the Fundies to rain fire and brimstone down on us sinners, people will be less and less concerned.

    We won the ordination fight because LGBT people came out and the rest of the church had the opportunity to see through the lies of the BFTSs. Now the same thing will happen as members see married LGBT folks more and more.

    My prediction is that it won't pass GA this year as moderates will want to give some space between ordination and marriage. Then it will pass the next GA but not the presbyteries. Then it will pass in 2016. But I'm, of course, happy to be proven wrong by the Spirit if it passes sooner. :)

  12. Your prediction makes sense but I am thinking that the bigger stink the fundies make (ie. PC(USA) not belonging to Jesus Christ), the moderates finally will realize that these folks are not friends and that there is no use trying to pretend.

    I am hopeful Spirit will move sooner. If not, it will just take more time.

  13. Yeah, as we've already seen (but they don't get it) the BFTSs don't win many converts by telling everyone who isn't them that they're hedonistic heretics and that the denomination they've most likely belonged to all their lives (and probably their parents, and parent's parents) is apostate and going to hell in a handbasket.

    Most people's perception of the PCUSA is defined by their own congregation and the BFTSs only do us a big favor when they try to paint old Mrs. Smith, the kindly grandma who sits in the back row every week, as some sex-crazed freak just because she doesn't feel like drowning queers with a millstone.

    Plus their bizarre paranoia and phony martyr complex turns out to be a really stupid maketing strategy.

  14. Not quite two hours after I left my previous comment here Elass says this on his blog: "I’m disappointed in Shuck and those who read his blogs — most often they engage in ad hominem attacks or snide innuendoes rather than debate the merits of any argument with which they disagree."

    Now, I'm not sure if he's including me as one who made ad hominem attacks or snide innuendoes or not, but really, who cares. I find his insults far worse than anything I have said of his ilk. The fact is I did debate the merits of his argument and will engage with him if he should choose to return.

    I would like to see him or his readers defend a claim that the wording of amendment 10A (i.e. the wording of the new “b” clause) “declare[s] holy what the Scriptures unequivocally call sin, denying divine revelation in favor of cultural captivity”. I also want to see them try to defend the constitutional statements concerning ordination that are found in the EPC’s Book of Order while at the same time condemning the PC(USA)’s. They’d better be able to do this if any of them want to make the argument that the EPC is a more faithful place for the PC(USA)’s breakaway congregations to land. As I see it, if a congregation or presbytery in the EPC wanted to ordain a gay Elder they wouldn’t necessarily be constitutionally prohibited.

  15. Well, I don't debate with people who think the Earth is flat or who think that the moon landings were faked either. One can only argue the merits of an argument if it has any merit to begin with.

    Of course, the very comment that Elass was responding to is nothing but the usual snide attacks and ad hominem. But Elass fails to see the irony, just as he fails to see the irony that calling everyone a heretic and apostate is doing exactly what he accuses others of doing.

    But then if I were to wait for the BFTSs to recognize their hypocrisy, I'll be waiting a long time.

  16. (and for someone who supposedly wants a real discussion, his drive-by post and disappearance has a rather troll like quality)