The Presbyterian Church (USA) has formally expanded its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. It becomes the largest denomination to affirm gay marriage in the strongest possible terms, upholding same sex marriage even in states where it is not legal and applying to all congregations (though pastors will be allowed to decline to participate). After the jump, an account of the change and a summary of the position of other mainline liberal Protestant denominations and how they are different. (The ELCA, for example, allows pastors to preside at same-sex services without formally changing the definition of marriage, as the PCUSA has done.) [Read more…]
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to revise its Book of Order to redefine marriage as being between “two persons” rather than between a man and a woman, thereby fully sanctioning gay marriages and gay weddings. The revision must be approved by a majority of presbyteries, but congregations in states that have legalized gay marriage may now perform them. [Read more…]
From a collection of responses to the PCUSA’s decision to remove the celibacy requirement for single pastors. Donald Fortson III observes that
“Church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity.” Adoption of amdendment 10-A is therefore, by definition, anti-catholic.
Archpriest Siarhei Hardun from the Orthodox Church of Belarus, an ecumenical observer, said this to the Presbyterians at last year’s convention, which passed the proposal that was recently ratified by enough congregations:
“Christian morality is as old as Christianity itself. It doesn’t need to be invented now. Those attempts to invent new morality look for me like attempts to invent a new religion — a sort of modern paganism.
When people say that they are led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do it, I wonder if it is the same Spirit that inspired the Bible, if it is the same Holy Spirit that inspires the Holy Orthodox Church not to change anything doctrinal or moral standards? It is really the same Spirit or perhaps there are different spirits acting in different denominations and inspiring them to develop in different directions and create different theologies and different morals?
I have been struck by the way theological innovators credit the moving of the Holy Spirit for leading their churches in these new directions. That’s the justification being given by Presbyterians, Episcopalians, ELCA theologians, and others for moving away from traditional teachings, from ordaining women to affirming gay marriage: the Holy Spirit is showing us new things; this is a new movement of the Holy Spirit. These mainline Protestants are exhibiting a curious “enthusiasm,” separating the Holy Spirit from the Word of God.
Have you noticed that the liberal, mainline Protestant denominations are asserting themselves more? Consider what the PCUSA is about to do:
The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) is about to release a report which denounces Israel as a “racist” nation which has absolutely no historical, covenantal, or theological right to the Holy Land. The report calls for the United States to withhold financial and military aid to Israel and for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s not all. The report also endorses a Palestinian “right of return” and “apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.” According to the press release, it also states that Israel’s history begins only with the Holocaust and that Israel is “a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem’.”
In addition, PCUSA has also resolved to divest in companies that supply military equipment to the American Army, e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc.
UPDATE: Thanks to Webmonk for contacting the PCUSA to ask them about this. The church denies what the Simon Wiesenthal Center is saying. The PCUSA gave him a statement that reads in part as follows:
“We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: We support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.”
I’d still like to learn what the Simon Wiesenthal Center–a respected battler of anti-semitism and defender of Jews–is quoting here. Maybe a draft of a study group that has not been approved by the entire church body. I’ll try to find out more.
UPDATE: I found the answer on the PCUSA website.
The Wiesenthal Center was quoting a draft document from a study group that will be presented for adoption at the PCUSA’s next convention in July. So this is something that the PCUSA is considering and that the Simon Wiesenthal Center is trying to stop.