ECO, the New Anti-Gay Presbyterian Denomination: Cowardly Lions

As you may know, this past summer the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) decided to allow the ordination of gay clergy.

Yesterday a new Presbyterian denomination was born: the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians—or, for short, ECO. (As opposed to echo, which is a hollow, after-the-fact, ever-diminishing noise. So, you know—it’s not that.)

ECO was formed by pastors and laypeople in response to PCUSA’s decision to join the 21st century. They’re against gay people being ordained as ministers, and so started their own sub-denomination where that would be prohibited.

And that’s fair enough. It’s certainly their right to take their ball and go off in a corner somewhere to play with just themselves.

Notable, however, is that ECO has simply refused to say why they were formed. They won’t do it. They won’t say that they’re a one-issue organization, that they exist solely in opposition to PCUSA’s sanctioning the ordination of gay people.

Though it’s not like anyone doesn’t know why they were formed. Yesterday’s Reuters story about ECO is titled Presbyterian group breaks away over gay clergy. So, you know: cat’s out of the bag.

Yet you can search high and low throughout ECO’s website, and nowhere will you find a single, solitary word about gay people or homosexuality. You’ll read that ECO wants to “connect leaders through accountable biblical relationships,” to “reclaim a sense of covenanted biblical community,” and to “develop gospel-centered leaders.” You’ll discover ECO’s passion for “the right kind of diversity” (which is then carefully stipulated to mean “women, men, young leaders, and every ethnicity”). You’ll learn of ECO’s desire to “unite around a shared theological core.”

But beyond that kind of babbling and fuzzy happy-talk, nary a mention will you find of the true and actual reason ECO exists. [UPDATE: as of April 15, 2014, the ECO website still nowhere mentions anything about why they actually exist. Never have so many words been used to say so little.]

ECO honchos! Just say that you’ve formed because you believe that gays shouldn’t be ordained! If your convictions are so great that they’ve compelled you to found a “breakaway movement,” why aren’t they great enough for you to be explicit about what it is you’re breaking away from?

That said, though, I’m heartened by the leaders of ECO being so weak about proclaiming their true nature and purpose. It means they’re as uncomfortable as, God knows, they should be about excluding gay people from full participation in the life that Jesus so passionately offered to all.

It’s always encouraging when someone can’t force their mouth to say what their heart knows is wrong. It means there’s hope for them yet.

In the meantime, our would-be friends at ECO are stuck, as it were, inartfully singing along with the Cowardly Lion:

I’m sure I could show my prowess / Be a lion, not a mouse / If I only had the nerve.

* * *

Related Post: Our [Presbyterian] Church: “Sign This Anti-Gay Statement, or Leave”

(UPDATE: A commenter to this post wrote: “As a PCUSA pastor I can tell you a big reason why ECO was formed was because the pastors in the anti-gay lobby receive very generous pension and medical benefits from the PCUSA that they are afraid to leave behind should they follow their conscience to disaffiliate from the denomination. … Our pension plan is the envy of most denominations and our benefits are generous. Any minister can leave at any time to seek a call in another Presbyterian denomination that would have them [PCA, OPC, EPC, RCA, CRC, etc.]. But they don’t want to give up the perks.” Gee, what a surprise: anti-gay Christian leaders whose conscience ends where their wallets begin.)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Jeff Blackshear via Facebook

    “…connect leaders through accountable biblical relationships…”

    So, they’re polygamists?

    • LSS

      Insert joke about doing all paperwork in triplicate

      (something about polygamy and accountability)

      ?

    • Lymis

      Maybe they’ll just approve of slaves and concubines.

  • John Williams

    Oh, goody–a new church for gay couples to visibly visit on Sundays! Or perhaps, since they’ve barred gays from the Gospel, they might bar the church doors, too?

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    Curious. From what I recall about Presbyterian polity, unlike the Episocopalian or United Methodist Church, Presbyterians are a congregationalist Church. Meaning, even though their official denomination may approve of ordaining women or gays, etc., their local churches don’t have to hire women or gays to serve as their pastors (I’ve met several ordained Presbyterian pastors who have a hard time getting hired). So, to the extent that this the case, it would seem that there’d be no need for them to form a “break away” sub-denomination.

    • Lymis

      Perhaps being allowed to quietly discriminate isn’t enough and they feel that they would appear to be approving of the other congregations’ openness?

      • Diana A.

        I think that has some truth to it.

  • Mary

    Welcome to the same World of Schism as the ELCA. We now have 3 Lutheran churches in my very small southern town. Looks like now we’re going to have 3 or 4 Presby churches as well. And that is sad, because we end up with a whole lot of churches that are hurting spiritually and financially.

    People love to live in a mainline protestant church where you get to vote on everything, but when the vote doesn’t go your way, you pack up your knickers that you have all in a knot and go start another church. This is ridiculous. This is wrong. And it is a model that we cannot maintain for long.

    One of the biggest complaints in my ELCA church was, “We will be forced to have openly gay ministers. We will not be able to choose who we want and who we don’t want to serve.” Well, the Supreme Court recently blew that argument out of the water. They say they new NALC and other ELCA spinoffs are “Bible Based”, but the spinoff church in our town has a woman minister (who happens to be my dear friend with whom I disagree on this topic). So if you’re gonna’ get all literal about what’s written in the version of the Bible that you happen to approve, then why are you not all literal about women not speaking in the sanctuary?

    As my husband always says, “That which unites us is of God. That which divides us is not.”

    • Lyn

      I’m not sure about that last sentence. I think to Jesus and how divisive his ministry was. I also think about how often people will stay silent so as not to “rock the boat”. I mean, I do it when people get all gushy about the Creation Museum. I think young earth creationism is just really, really unscriptural and terribly harmful to our witness, but there’s a point where I just kinda pick my fights and this isn’t one I choose to pick very often. But I don’t think sharing that YEC isn’t the only way to think about creation, even though it may be (temporarily) divisive, is not of God because of that. Abolitionism was divisive. Desegregation was divisive. Women’s suffrage was divisive.

      I think you have to base it more on a question of what’s loving and obedient to the Great Commandments than on the question of unity alone.

      Just thinking out loud. Not disagreeing with your general points.

      • vj

        Lyn, I really hope you’re going to stick around this blog for a long, long time. You share your insights with SUCH grace, it’s a pleasure to read your comments…

  • Chris Constant

    Well to get to ECHO from ECO all you have to do is add a little “Homophobic” to the name.

    Evangelical Covenant Homophobic Order of Presbyterians. (ECHO)

    • Joyce

      Clever…and not far from the truth.

    • Diana A.

      That, at least, would be truth in advertising.

  • Deb Fullwood via Facebook

    Oh dear God! I hope not polygamists. Presbyterians get accused of a lot of stuff. All of our “out there” members make the news when they do something crazy (like shoot an abortion doctor) However, we do have Mr. Rogers (no, not the quarterback). I for one, and thrilled that ammendment 10A (allowing ordainment) passed!

  • Ron Clayton

    Actually, they DID state their position on gay ordination. It was in code, but the code is pretty clear: “connect leaders through accountable biblical relationships,” to “reclaim a sense of covenanted biblical community,” and to “develop gospel-centered leaders.” They’ll discover ECO’s passion for “the right kind of diversity” (which is then carefully stipulated to mean “women, men, young leaders, and every ethnicity”). They’ll readily learn of ECO’s desire to “unite around a shared theological core.” To other theological conservatives, that says just what the author is wanting them to say. The rest of us just need to learn to translate…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I DO know the code; I do know that’s what they’re trying to say in their … way.

      I should go change the text to show I know that. Erg. I dunno. Okay. Good point.

      • Marcelo

        I took your approach, John, to be ironic. They tried to speak in code in a very transparent way. “The right kind of diversity.” Wow. That is just so….Wow.

        That’s like saying “we don’t mind you being different, just our kind of different.”

        • Mindy

          Yeah, they don’t seem to get that their “right” kind of diversity just isn’t very diverse. Back in the early days of embracing racial diversity, this would equal a sect that allowed blondes, brunettes AND redheads. Impressive.

          • Diana A.

            Woo. Hoo.

  • LK

    another church gone aspostate

    • Lyn

      Yeah, so sad that ECO is so hostile to the calling of Christ.

      • vj

        ;-)

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      You know the challenging thing about your input “LK” is that you embody what people hate about Christians. There are some people who actually, have some deeply-held convictions about same-sex relationships that while difficult to discuss, they invest a lot of time and energy in at least being understood. Your little drive-by comments do so much damage to your actual perspective. And it doesn’t matter, your beliefs about homosexuality are practically extinct anyway. Over 50% of Christians in the most recent gallop poll said they would support gay marriage – the Millennial generation of Christians find the topic almost silly – you’ve lost the kids. You’ve lost your grip on the collective church thank God, we’ve taken it back and we’re now more aligned with the Gospel of Christ. So I get that this is all you can offer but still, it’s sad.

      • Soulmentor

        They will simply fall back on what they interpret as Biblical accounts of their coming persecution and Christian apostasy as an indicator of how right they are.

        http://carm.org/christianity/-christian-church/apostasy-christian-church

        “Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. Therefore, an apostate is someone [a church?] who has once believed and then rejected the truth of God. Apostasy is a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against truth. ”

        “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus' return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thess. 2:3, NASB).

        But if one parses the references carefully, one can come readily to a different interpretation of that word “apostasy”. The word by itself is not necessarily an anti-christian negative. Perhaps what the references are referring to is the new thinking (new Spirit?) that is now confronting the traditional Church that long ago fell away from “the truth” which is, not the “traditional truth” of Biblical literalism, but always was the gospel of Love illustrated by Jesus.

        In 1 Peter 4:17 we see: “For it is time for judgment to begin the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? ” And that gospel is what? To my mind it is a gospel of Love as shown us by Jesus, and perhaps the meaning here is that the “traditional” Church is now in that process of being called out for being a judgemental as opposed to a loving church and it is those “Bible believers” and “literalists” who face the “outcome” spoken of, mindful of Jesus’ reference to the Pharisaical whited sepulchers.

  • Brook E Mantia via Facebook

    Good, I’m glad the apostates have removed themselves from the denomination. That’s a nice start. Now if they would only remove themselves from the gene pool, we’d be making real progress.

  • Melanie Stanley-Soulen

    Why didn’t they just join up with the PCA’s who are the Calvinist Baptists of the Presbyterians church already?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ldheilig Lisa Heilig via Facebook

    They won’t be singing with the Cowardly Lion, as he is a self-professed ‘dandy’lion!

    • LSS

      Yeah pretty sure i read that the actor was gay, though probably not the character.

      • Chris

        Not the character? Have you _seen_ the movie? His King of the Forest song always has our whole family ROTFL. :-D

      • Lymis

        If the character wasn’t gay, he was one of the swishiest straight characters in the history of cinema.

        • Soulmentor

          The whole movie was awash in gay metaphors. Indeed, it was one big gay metaphor. Some of you will be aware, but perhaps many are not that during that (WWII) and 50′s era, “friend of Dorothy” was code for being gay, much as today “food stamp President” is code for favoring poor blacks (and maybe some Latinos).

          THE WIZARD OF OZ was and remains brilliant in the way it subliminally relates to gays, who instantly “get it”, if only …..well, subliminally, while many do grasp it consciously. If someone hasn’t used it as a subject for a PhD thesis, they could and should.

          The imagery is amazing; the longing for a beautiful place of love and peace over the rainbow, the whirlwind of conflicting emotions and torn directions, that hint of something inside you that begins to crush your tormentor, all the little temptors to hopeful lightheartedness, the dream of love at the end of a twisting, treacherous journey accomplished one “brick” of insight at a time, the evil persecutor constantly trying to drag you back to the dark closet with the help of that hoard of personal demons, the companionship of imperfect but good hearted friends along the way with offerings of strength, intelligence and courage, the first glorious spiritual sight of the shining jewel of hope in the distance beyond the mine field of poppies, POPPIES!!!! (promiscuity) tempting you to forget the pain and numb you to a false peace, the gaining of strength and conquering of fear and bravely confronting that phantom of false guilt behind the veil of false righteousness and finally the glorious contentment of having found your way home. And how many gays do we know who have a dog …or cat?

          Hmm, I think I should save that!

  • http://revbaa.wordpress.com Rev Nathan

    As a PCUSA pastor I can tell you a big reason why ECO was formed was because the pastors in the anti-gay lobby receives very generous pension and medical benefits from the PCUSA that they are afraid to leave behind should they follow their conscience to disaffiliate from the denomination. (Ironically, continuing to pay pension dues to a pension board that provides benefits to same-sex couples who are employees to churches) Our pension plan is the envy of most denominations and our benefits are generous. Any minister can leave at any time to seek a call in another Presbyterian denomination that would have them (PCA, OPC, EPC, RCA, CRC, ect) But they don’t want to give up the perks.

    I think somewhere the definition of cowardice is failure to put your money where your mouth is.

    • http://revbaa.wordpress.com Rev Nathan

      My bad. ECO has just unveiled a competing health care plan that excludes gays (though no word on a pension plan as of yet). Forward thinking.

  • Bradley Weidemann

    Why do you think that they opted to form another Presbyterian denomination, instead of joining one of the many conservative Presbyterian denominations (PCA, OPC, EPC, RPCNA, etc.)?

  • http://akiste.wordpress.com/ Alan

    An ordained elder in the PCUSA chiming in here…

    The earlier comment that this isn’t a split, because these pastors will never leave their pensions and tall-steeple churches is spot on. This is instigated and led by big churches with big money, but we’re still talking just a tiny number of churches in the vast Presbyterian ocean. So even “split” is an incorrect visual. “Sloughing off”, might be a better one. Or “chip” instead of “schism”. Realize these bigots have been threatening to leave for 30 years, and they’re still here. So they’re not really going anywhere.

    And even if they do split, who cares? If you’re conversant with Presbyterian history in the US, they’ll rejoin back with the PCUSA in 15 years when they discover that just splitting away won’t do anything to keep us “dirty queers” out of their churches. Frankly I’d suggest those LGBT presbyterian folks who want to have some fun to move to those churches and raise heck just to speed along the reunion. :)

    I say good riddance. There’s nothing remotely Reformed nor Presbyterian about their fundy theology anyway, and those of us who are orthodox in our theology, and our more progressive brethren (and sistren!) are better off without the heretic fundies anyway.

    • Will

      Alan, you have a clear sense of church history and human foibles. :D

  • http://akiste.wordpress.com/ Alan

    Bradly… The reason they have to start their own He Man Homo Hater’s club is that the other Presbyterian denominations you mention don’t ordain women. If these cowards followed suit, their ordained wives would cut them off at the … uh … ankles. :)

    And to respond to an earlier comment, no the Presbyterian polity is not congregational.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I hear you, John. I would much prefer a church be direct about its positions on social issues. Vague language implies they’re hoping to keep their membership up by not making it crystal clear that they are against the ordination of gays. Now, I can’t stand the Westboro folks, but at least I’m under no illusion as to what they believe. At least we can get all the reading of the tea leaves out of the way and go face to face on where we stand.

    Keep it up, man. You’ve got a nose for hypocrisy like my Dachsund has for french fries.

  • Wendy

    I’m a Presbyterian and I’m glad they left the PCUSA; we don’t need bigots in the denomination.

  • Wendy Young Callaway via Facebook

    I’m a Presbyterian and I’m glad they left the PCUSA; we don’t need bigots in the denomination.

  • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

    I’ll admit that the tone of this post got my hackles up. So let me at least offer another perspective.

    I attend a Presbyterian church that is going through the process of disconnecting itself from the PCUSA right now. My pastor happens to be one of the people playing a large role in setting up this new denomination. My father-in-law is another Presbyterian pastor who, while sympathizing with this new denomination, doesn’t feel his church would make the break smoothly.

    Neither of these men are cowards. I’m an agnostic with Pagan leanings, so I disagree with them on, well, most issues…but I respect them both very much. And both of them would tell you, quite explicitly, that the gay issue is NOT at the heart of this split.

    The reason our church is leaving the denomination is because PCUSA has changed a key piece of wording in the way they ordain ministers. The old version went like this:

    “Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in *obedience to Scripture* and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

    The new reads like this:

    “Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all the requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation. Governing bodies shall be *guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates*.”

    Obviously, the part about “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman” has been removed, opening the field to openly LGBT people serving as ministers. But this isn’t what concerns the particular churches I’m connected to. What they are worried about is the parts that I starred above: the phrase “obedient to Scripture” has been changed to “guided by Scripture” and “confessions of individual candidates”.

    In other words, they are concerned that the PCUSA is laying the groundwork to downgrade the authority of Scripture in ordaining ministers…not just in the area of orientation, but in matters such as basic Christology. They are worried that the denomination is giving itself the freedom to ordain ministers who don’t hold the foundational truths of Christianity. That’s why the new denomination’s website is full of “biblical” this and “biblical” that. They aren’t against gays; they are against what they see as the first step in undermining what it means to be Christian. I’d say this is a legitimate worry, whether I agree with it or not.

    In fact, the ECO is attempting to do something that hasn’t been done before: they are trying to set themselves up as a pseudo-denomination, maintaining close connections with the PCUSA while keeping a distance. In my understanding, it’s like they’re moving to a different suite, instead of a different apartment building altogether. And the PCUSA may not even allow this in the end.

    You’ve proven yourself to be a fair and discerning Christian, Mr. Shore, in the short time I’ve been reading this blog. Please don’t make the mistake of painting this new ECO with too broad a brush. It’s really not all about the gays, at least not for some.

    • Lymis

      Sorry, but it is impossible for me to read your explanation and interpret

      “They aren’t against gays; they are against what they see as the first step in undermining what it means to be Christian. ”

      as anything other than

      “They aren’t against gays; they are against what they see recognizing the humanity of gay people and the validity of gay relationships as the first step in undermining what it means to be Christian.

      What you write is what we see all the time – oh, no, it isn’t the clear, obvious, concrete and documented bigotry against gay people that is the issue, it’s the far more important and high minded concern about some other issues that I can’t really detail, can’t put my finger on, and look, is that a squirrel?

      You may buy it. I don’t. Not with the story you’re trying to float.

      • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

        All I’m saying is that it’s not about the gay ordination issue *for every single church that is leaving*. And I know that because I’m part of a church that is leaving, specifically, over the authority of Scripture issue. My pastor is not lying. It wouldn’t *be* an issue otherwise; individual churches don’t have to ordain anyone they don’t want to.

        The reason I pointed out that both of the people I’ve talked to are *pastors* is because they are both intimately acquainted with deeper issues that are cropping up in the denomination, things that aren’t being talked about in the media or in the pews. And not to get all conspiracy-ish, but I was told to keep the specifics to myself.

        • http://akiste.wordpress.com/ Alan

          BTW, Amaranth, if it isn’t about the gays, then I assume this new denomination will ordain and marry LGBT people?

          No?

          Well, then it is about the gays isn’t it?

          QED

      • http://akiste.wordpress.com/ Alan

        Nope, I don’t buy it either, and here’s why:

        Any truly orthodox, Reformed Presbyterian would never, ever in their entire lives claim that we are to be obedient to Scripture. We are to be obedient to God.

        So the claim that some are leaving because of issues about the “authority of Scripture” is a smoke screen. Sorry, but it just is. They may claim it, but if they don’t even understand what the phrase “authority of Scripture” means (and they clearly do not, see my previous paragraph), then they are not leaving because of the authority of scripture.

        And I would also point out that phrase, “obedient to scripture” was added about 15 years ago. We Presbyterians lived just find for 2 centuries without needing that phrase in there. The people Amaranth speaks of lived just find without that phrase. Suddenly the gays can be ordained and that phrase matters?

        I may have been born in the morning, but it wasn’t this morning. So sorry, I just don’t buy it.

    • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

      Amaranth, I belong to a PCUSA church, myself, and our congregation has been split by the change in language you posted above. We’ve held a series of meetings, Bible studies, etc, to grapple with the implications of that change, and I can attest to the fact that you are 100% correct in your interpretation of what’s going on. It’s not “all about the gays.” It’s about Scriptural authority, Christology, and the very definition of Christianity. How refreshing to read a fair analysis of the situation from someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with the concerns of the church, but can acknowledge that they are legitimate… and who doesn’t just jump to the “bigots and haters” conclusion. Thank you for your open heart and mind.

      • Donald Rappe

        Oh look! Is that a squirrel?

      • Donald Rappe

        Did the definition of Christian cease to be: Those who confess Jesus as the Christ and follow him as Lord? Is the authority of scripture no longer that they are they which make us wise unto salvation? Has the Christology of the ecumenical creeds become inadequate? Oh, look! Is that a fox?

    • Sharla

      Actually it HAS been done before. Look up Disciple Renewal/Disciple Heritage Fellowship. Interestingly enough DR & DHF had as one of their main objections a growing acceptance of GLBT people in some areas of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

    • Mindy

      I would say to both Amaranth and Margaret that regardless of how the break is defended, Lymis nails it. Of course they are not going to come out and say what they are really thinking, because as John points out, they are fearful of being labeled bigots – as they should be. Being guided by Scripture IS what it means to be Christian. How can that be a problem? They only difference is that the leaders are not being *required* to take Scripture literally. Of course most good pastors don’t take much of Scripture literally already, but codifying of that existing practice in order to let gay people serve is just too terrifying, because it means that the PCUSA is admitting that cultural and historical context does really matter. It is a step in the right direction for all Christians, not just gay ones, but it is way too scary when you are of the old guard to admit such a thing. No disrespect intended to your father, Amaranth – and he may not be part of the anti-gay group – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the underlying motivation for most.

    • Allie

      “Bible believing” opens it up for many more objections, such as an objection to belief in modern science versus literal 7-days creation. I’m sure they have all sorts of objections to being asked to follow Christ instead. It’s still icky.

    • Christy

      I’m genuinely curious what Pagan leanings look like. Would you be willing to share?

      • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

        I grew up a nominal Christian, was a very enthusiastic one for a few years, got disillusioned and ended up working my way through a whole lot of minor religions trying to find a fit. Up until about a year ago I would have called myself a Neo-pagan with Christian leanings, but I’ve backed away from both so significantly that neither Pagan nor Christian are good labels for me anymore. Thus, agnostic.

        I was never a religious Pagan in the polytheistic sense, but rather that I approach religion with candles and shrines and nature. The underlying philosophies of reverence for the earth, harming none, respecting all faiths and paths are ones that still shape who I am. I find I best connect to the numinous in nature and the elements (although, oddly, I’ve always felt like it was the Christian God I was connecting to).

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          Thanks for this. I’m avoiding boxes myself these days. Not sure where I fit either. You might find this article fascinating. I did. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-talat-phillips/gnosis-mystical-history-of-jesus_b_1199493.html?ref=religion

          Gnosis is important to me and thin places, which are so often found in nature. Common elements to the mystics. I need to study Native American Spirituality more as it seems to resonate. I have yet to read Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World”, but I have heard it is remarkable.

          Thank you for sharing your experience and blessings on your journey. ~ C

    • Lymis

      I won’t even pretend to know your heart and mind, nor the experience of those around you. It may be that you just make a really poor argument for what you feel to be truth.

      It’s just that I have seen this so often over my lifetime.

      It’s really about property values, keeping our school quality, and maintaining our local traditions. The fact that it happens just when someone wants coloreds to move into the neighborhood is completely coincidental. And the law that explicitly bans coloreds really isn’t about racism, it’s about values!

      It’s really about home and family, and keeping a stable society. It’s especially about keeping fine, decent women from being dragged into things that they simply don’t understand, the poor dears. The fact that is happens just when someone is proposing votes for women is completely coincidental. Keeping women from equal participation in society is really all about protecting the decency of women!

      And black slaves enjoyed being slaves. And torturing Jews to death to get them to convert to Christianity is about saving souls!

      You can say all you want that “In other words, they are concerned that the PCUSA is laying the groundwork to downgrade the authority of Scripture in ordaining ministers” and claim it has to do with everything but sexual orientation, but the paired truth of the timing of this and the fact that openly gay people are pretty much the only people being explicitly excluded by this shines the truth on it. Whatever else may be going on, it’s impossible to see this as not being firmly based in anti-gay hostility and bigotry.

      But we’re not being anti-gay! We’re just concerned about faithfulness to Scripture! Now hand me that shrimp cocktail while the men are shaving before we go listen to that woman speak in church, And when your divorce is final, we’ll have that pig roast we’ve been planning. Oh, look! Is that another squirrel?

    • Casey Rathbun

      It is about gays.

      In my opinion the new wording for ordination is much stronger than the old as the word guided means to be controlled by Scripture along a path to a destination; a Christ centered life. Indeed Guidance is a Spiritual Discipline meaning “Experiencing an interactive friendship with God that gives direction and purpose to daily life”. Scripture is replete with references to guidance including:

      • Exodus 15:13 In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed; you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

      • Ps 31:3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

      • Isa 42:16 I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them.

      • John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

      • Rev 7:17 The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life.

      The current standard of ordination calls for “obedience” to Scripture. But what does this mean? The definition of obedience is “the trait of being willing to obey”. While all are willing it breaks my heart that so many cannot obey. But these ministers are not defrocked but continue preaching from the pulpit because we accept them as they are, failed humankind. Why cannot we accept all who are called?

  • Christy

    The writer in me recognizes the conscious decision by the writer in you to select the seemingly tiny preposition “with” rather than “by” as in “go play with themselves ” and all the double entendres it connotes. Well played.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      It’s true. At that moment I gave into my inner fourth-grader …

      • Soulmentor

        Fourth grader?! Yeah, they catch on younger and younger, don’t they.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BBBoT Robert Clatterbuck via Facebook

    As much as it pains me to say this – I truly believe ALL people need a place to be able to worship as themselves. If this means division and creating a separate space for people for whom this issue is so difficult to accept so be it. I am very happy that there are denominations that gladly accept and affirm my LGBT brothers and sisters and I to worship – but I hate that the cost of that is pushing others away :-(

    • Mindy

      I agree, Robert. If they wish to revel in their homophobia, best they do it all together, without the rest of us having to participate.

  • Kat

    The same bunch of people who dropped my parents as friends because my brother and I came out. They said my parents hadn’t raised us rihht and they had known my parents when they were in college. And people wonder why I left the church?

  • Logan Judd via Facebook

    The exact same thing happened to the Episcopal church, and the Anglicans were better for it.

  • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

    “… as opposed to echo, which is a hollow, after-the-fact, ever-diminishing noise.” Hilarious.

    • Mindy

      I LOVE this, Don – I stopped and reread it, like, three times, just because it was such a perfect sentence. :)

    • Leslie

      I agree! Let’s hope the bigotry becomes ever-diminishing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robin-Cliver/100000033923597 Robin Cliver via Facebook

    For me, I have the Lord in my heart and I worship here at home. The Lord has my number. I stopped feeling the “need” to belong in any denomination a long time ago. church is like a politician…all phonies.

  • Rhea

    Does anyone know why they would create the ECO instead of just joining the PCA?

    • Tom Paine

      Because they still want to ordain women. Even they are too liberal for the PCA.

      • diakonos

        Also, I have been told by Presby pastors that PCA offers no denominational pension plan.

  • Steve Baldwin via Facebook

    Judge & ye shall be judged

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      Can we get Don Burrows (for the Greek) or Pastor Bob in here (theologically) or John to address the “Judge not” passage. In the circles where I travel this is the trump card that gets thrown anytime the more rational deliberators raise any form of criticism for discussion by the more blind following, don’t ask questions crowd. Is there some realm of reality where one can debate critically without being castigated as being judging. Where’s the line? Because I see the don’t judge card as defensive avoidance when people raise legitimate questions that begin to create some cognitive dissonance. (yeah – no judging in there, Christy. Way to go.)

      • Mindy

        I would love to see that as well. Whenever you call a “good” Christian out for being bigoted from behind a Bible page, you get nailed for “judging.” But wait, when I point out your judgmental behavior, *I* am not judging. I am not saying that you are an unworthy person, I am saying that your behavior is particularly unChristianlike. And then they say the same thing back – “Well, I was just pointing out how unChristianlike it is to be gay, because I love all gay people. I wasn’t judging!” Um, yes you were. No, I wasn’t, you were. NO, YOU WERE!!

        And so forth. How does one parse that out properly so that those on the bigoted side of the fence see the difference??? I mean, I can – in a way that makes perfect sense to me and others who think like me. But what is the Biblical answer to this? Because methinks that is the only answer that might have a chance of being heard.

      • vj

        I suppose it comes down to a distinction between ‘judging’ (= condemnation, punishment, criticism, etc) and ‘discernment’ (= identifying wrongdoing)? We are called to KNOW right from wrong, and to endeavor to live righteously, and to be an example to others, and to be supportive of those who stumble along the way – we ARE NOT called to be hateful, bigoted, accusatory, and ‘holier-than-thou’….. Mostly, we are called to sort ourselves, not others, out!

  • Gary Drum via Facebook

    I read their document and it is incredibly word, obtuse and in need of an editor.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Right? It’s so awful in so many ways.

  • Allie

    I hate that “gospel centered” has become code for “bigoted.”

    Especially since none of the clobber phrases are IN the gospel. Jesus mentions gay people exactly zero times.

    Pretty sure most people know what phrases like “bible believing” mean, just as everyone in the South knows what “those people” means. Bible believing means “opposed to equal rights for gay people and/or women” and those people means black.

    • Donald Rappe

      Unless we count that spot in Luke where, on the night which begins That Day, two women are grinding together and one is taken and one is not. I know that Mathew adds “at the mill” (at night?) as he adds “in spirit” to the Lukan “Blessed are the poor.” I come from the school of thought which does not “reconcile” scriptural writers with each other, but, likes to notice the differences. (That’s why I know that Eve was tempted by the subtlest of the beasts of the field and no one else, in Genesis.)

      • LSS

        Wait, what? My hint-receptors are particularly deficient today. Can you explain more about these 2 examples?

        • Lyn

          Head over to biblethumpingliberal.com and hit the tags for Luke’s gay apocalypse. He explains it pretty well.

          • Donald Rappe

            Thanks Lyn.

  • http://pluckypresby.blogspot.com John Russell Stanger

    I am a gay PC(USA) seminarian and watching the last couple of days has been painful. Thank you for speaking prophetically and naming what is going on. The silence of the ECO on queer children of God is unacceptable.

  • Kimberly Moser Musci Phillips via Facebook

    Gary, it probably needs an editor precisely *because* ECO isn’t willing to just come out and say that they what differentiates them from PCUSA. Even the name they chose for themselves: what the heck does “evangelical covenant (order)” mean, anyway? LOL

  • Jamie Stanek via Facebook

    It is clear why the ECO formed when you recognize that tent poles are phallic.

  • Don Whitt

    Nice piece, John. I will never accept this sort of hypocrisy as anything but that. Reducing the fundamental and simple message of the NT – love – into hateful reactionary theology is just a shame. The Presbytery was once a relatively liberal bastion – an oasis whose only real problem was a neurotic need for administrative order., IMHO. They have struggled with the perception that homosexuality was counter to family. They finally figured out that the family has and always has had homosexual children, but this is a real step-backwards for the church if it doesn’t step up and tell the ECO so. The creepiest part of ECO’s statement was about “order” . It had that sort of “Golden Age of Rome” flavor, like, “were taking our church back and restoring the natural order of things and that means the gays need not apply.” I just don’t get people like this. Love your neighbor unless you don’t and that’s okay? It makes me very sad. These people need to grow up and look at the damage they’re doing.

    • LSS

      Doesn’t “order” have a special meaning in Presbyterian? It’s been a long time since i was one, though. So i might remember wrong.

  • Lori Knight-Whitehouse

    As a PC. USA clergywoman, I am disheartened by this impending split. However, perhaps soon my denomination can get back to our calling–proclaiming the inclusive love of God in Jesus Christ.

  • Leslie

    They do admit in their “Draft of the Theology” p. 8 this: “7. maintain chastity in thought and deed, being faithful within the covenant of marriage between a man and

    a woman as established by God at the creation or embracing a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant;”

    That’s the only place I can find that even resembles the anti-gay reasons for their formation.

    • Sharla

      “a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant”?

      Wait… what?

      • Diana A.

        Regarding the celibacy thing, they might be referring to Matthew 19:11-12. I’m going to copy/paste the entire section since context is important here:

        1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

        3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

        4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

        7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

        8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

        10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

        11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:1-12, NIV)

        Notice how verses 11-12 are a response to the disciples expression of dismay over the strictness of Jesus’s teaching on marriage.

    • http://pluckypresby.blogspot.com John Russell Stanger

      And let us make no mistake, that is heterosexist language.

    • Mindy

      I’m with Sharla – when did Jesus define marriage as such?! Thanks for finding this, Leslie – clarifies pretty much everything!

      • vj

        ditto

      • Arthur

        Leaving aside the historical critical questions: 1) Jesus seems quite firm against divorce (that’s the best documented saying of Jesus), e.g., that Moses gave divorce for their hardness of heart. 2) J’s answer to Sadducees: in Heaven, no giving or taking in marriage. 3) Clear or fairly clear non-marriage of J. & other apostles, e.g., Paul. 4) Paul’s own sense that celibacy best, & marriage o.k. (+ quotation in Eph. of the Gen. “great mystery”). And so forth. Historically, much of this seems informed by the eschatological situation they envisioned.

        Some, many of the folks involved are pretty smart and sophisticated. They can mount plausible arguments. I think they’re wrong (i.e., I think over all mine are better), but I can respect the well-made arguments of some.

        • Sharla

          Leave Paul out of this, please. The original statement on which I commented had to do with what Jesus said about marriage. The saying about divorce is pretty much it. What happens or does not happen in heaven does not constitute a prescription for what is to happen in this life. and I think both of those sayings need to be understood in context; in both cases Jesus was in mid-dispute and not necessarily stating for all time his instructions about marriage.

          • relevantpreach

            really? I thought his reference back to the rule at that time (Genesis) was pretty affirming. But maybe I missed the context and the real meaning. Please clarify.

      • Michael Neubert

        John, that would be Matthew 19:4-6

  • Deana Armstrong

    As an ex-PCUSA lesbian minister… now UCC since 5 years ago feels like a lifetime ago, I wish them well. I keep thinking of the sign I saw on a church in TN. It was the New Bethel Independent Primitive Cumberland Presbyterian Church… (also known as the we-don’t-think-nobody-else-is-going-to-heaven church) “Decently and in order” used to mean that you might not agree with the denomination but you didn’t take your potluck dish and go home sulking when you didn’t win a debate. Then again Presbyterians do have Scottish roots in inter-clan warfare.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.brucato Satyros Phil Brucato via Facebook

    If they only had a brain…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/G-Scott-Weldon/1136577075 G Scott Weldon via Facebook

    Or a heart.

  • Jonathan Justice

    While I regret not stumbling on to this blog sooner, I think I may have a little bit to offer to the discussion of what went down in Florida. Having been on the matter of LGBT persons and the PCUSA since the 1970′s, I find all claims to a need to do to us rather than with us suspect. My sense of the matter is that it is a sideshow for a lot of other stuff that matters to various persons without quite the visceral unity which is presumed in talking about those awful fags and dykes. Somewhat as I expected, a quick read of their Polity discussion turns up instructive differences between the polity of the folks at ECO and the normative practices of the PCUSA. I will leave it to folks more acquainted with our polity to work up the details, but my sense of the drift is that this new polity will make it easier for big time preacherfolk to manipulate their (rather smaller) presbyteries and thus the larger church. This does not greatly surprise me, but I do not think it bodes well for their church.

  • Kyle Walker

    Hey John, regarding the comment from the reader. These pastors can serve a congregation of another denomination that is in communion with the PCUSA and still pay into the BOP. Basically the presbytery has to endorse that relationship. They are afraid the rest of us won’t be gracious and allow them to do that. I have no interest in revenge or hostages. Let me participate in BOP but don’t allow them to participate in writing a discipline they don’t submit to. Graceful separate with joint affiliation with the BOP is the best remedy at this point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/accebersmith Rebecca Smith via Facebook

    Thank you, John, for fighting the good fight. None of us are free until we all are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sally.rathbun Sally Rathbun via Facebook

    AMEN, sister.

  • Lorelei Hillman via Facebook

    That about sums it up (including the comment you added).

  • Miriam Byroade via Facebook

    “the right kind of diversity” they really have the nerve to say that? wow

  • Diana

    As a card-carrying member of the PC(USA) I’m glad to see this faction GO. Am I happy that my denomination is splitting yet again? No. But I’m so tired of these people jamming up the work of the church over this. Now that they’re gone, we can do what we’ve been about: serving humanity in the name of Jesus Christ and being authentic about God’s calling us to serve. And for the record, my congregation has been ordaining gay/lesbian members for decades because we called them to be leaders. Period.

  • Beth levitt

    So to sum it up this all comes down to money. I guess the phrase put your money where your mouth is doesn’t resonate with these folks. How incredibly pathetic and dishonest.

  • Arthur

    1) Orlando wasn’t just about ECO, and FOP is more than ECO. 2) A friend of mine was there, and reported a very irenic atmosphere. It was more about stopping polity wars and reclaiming a positive mission focus.

    3) While there’s plenty I would criticize, and even more I would disagree with, I find the blanket condemnations both analytically wrong and ecclesially unhelpful. The idiotic loud-mouths are easy targets, but they aren’t typical. (Case in point about the dangers of listening to “leadership” — Rick Santorum’s strong placement in S.C., challenging Ron Paul for last place.)

    I understand the pastoral issues, the injuries my friends and those who have gone before us received, and continue to receive. I share the frustration. But the situation is more complex, and deserves a more complex approach and response.

  • Adiani

    I am so tired of the hypocrisy and self righteousness of these so called Christians. Mention the word gay and they start frothing at the mouth with pious indignation. Yet Jesus never said a word against homosexuality but did speak out against divorce. So how come these parishioners are not threatening to create a new branch of people opposed to divorce? Because divorce is favored by heterosexuals and is a convenient bonus in being able to throw out the old and bring in the new. These people are not Christians, by Jesus’ own definition, they are Pharisees.

    • DJ

      There are a lot of fudamentalists who are still anti-divorce, ie. divorced men not allowed to be ministers. And no women at all. So I guess, they’re at least not hypocrites.

      • NH

        As a gay person who questions if I have any future left with Christianity (once you are forced to find your own way through a wilderness imposed on you by others, there is really little room left for faith in anything other than what is right in front of you), it was the modern church’s hypocritical stance on divorce and remarriage that was one of the final coffin nails for me and the faith I once had. For a biblical literalist, which I was once and obviously now am not, the Bible is clear that divorce and remarriage is right up there with homosexuality. Yet, I see no denominations coming undone over this. I see no political parties building platforms on this issue in the name of God. I only see church’s splitting up and political parties building platforms over people like me.

        Peace to all: straight, gay, single, married, divorce, and remarried.

        • NH

          And just to clarify, I mean NO direspect for divorced people. What bothered me was that most churches (and I mean evangelical/fundamentalist here) were able to develop a rational, compassionate, and realistic approach to divorce and remarriage in light (or in spite?) of what scripture said. But, apparently something along the same lines won’t extend to homosexuals for the moment.

          • DJ

            I hear you. But I was raised Assembly of God, and they are against divorce and, of course, against remarriage if divorce does happen. My uncle can not be a minister in that denomination (in which he was raised) because he had a very young, short-lived marriage. It’s sad to me.

            I am an Episcopalian now, so pretty much outcast in my family. My pastor, or rector as we call them, divorced several years ago and remarried a year ago. If he were in some other denominations he would not be able to continue the wonderful work he does in our church and community. That’s sad to me too.

          • NH

            I was raised Southern Baptist, and I’m not sure what the official stance is these days on remarriage for pastors. I know my home pastor growing up at first refused to perform remarriages, but then he changed his mind on that. My best friend is a gay, former AG, and he has said the same things about the requirements of pastors in his church. God bless.

          • Craig

            “NH” – I hope you won’t let the small minded-ness of some people turn you from the grace and love of God. I was raised Presbyterian and although it damaged me (as a gay man) I realized, too, that there is a spiritual life outside of any denomination. I understand your distress, but if it turns your heart against the so-called “christians”, don’t let it turn you from those of us who believe and support you. God loves you, Jesus came to show all of us the way, and the small-minded are to be pitied, but not necessarily listened to.

          • NH

            You know, I’ve never replied to a blog before, and it’s was nice to vent. I may not be a lost cause after all-especially knowing there are plenty of people like me out there. God bless!

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Boy did you nail it right there. I’m a formerly divorced (now remarried) woman, but not too many churches would have refused to perform the wedding for my husband and I. The hypocrisy of it is flabbergasting. That said, I don’t believe being gay – OR being divorced – is a sin. If anything, marrying the wrong person is a problematic issue, and as someone who did that, I know it means I had – and continue to have – a lot of personal growing to do. But there’s nothing problematic OR wrong with being gay. Period.

    • LSS

      Someone i know was married 4 times, each of them a mistake in different ways… A pastor (granted, he was one of those fringe guys whose church is his family) told her that she should technically go back to her first husband (the wife-beater), because none of her later marriages were valid.

      Pretty sure i have at least occasionally heard something similar from a “real church”, too.

  • Elizabeth

    More than outraged, this breaks my heart. Completely makes it ache and respond immediately in prayer.

    When was Jesus EVER about exclusion? Yeah sure the road is narrow that those follow Christ take… But the road TO Christ, to His grace, is so wide that boundaries can not exist. To determine who gets to come before God… that list by our standards would include most of the disciples in some form or other (if each denomination added their list of “not enough” to each other, and were retrospective, we would have no early church let alone a current one!)

    Anybody telling anyone they can not come to Christ is against everything Jesus came and suffered for.

    The only time that Jesus was angry was when the Gentile court in the temple, the part set aside for non-Jews to come closer to God, to worship, had been turned by the Jews into a market place. Access to God by the “other” had been removed by the “chosen”.

    This breaks my heart. And my response will be to not only pray and cry with Gods broken heart, but proactively go and find someone today who has been hurt like this and let God love through me.

    They won’t know us by our rules and exclusions but by our fruit. Today the fruit I am growing is love.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      Your insight into the cleansing of the temple was new to me. Thank you!

    • Diana A.

      What Lyn said is true for me as well. Thank you for that insight.

  • Cynthia Haug-West via Facebook

    I think they meant “the right(wing) kind of diversity.” And it is incredible that they have the noive to actually say it.

  • Jeff Straka

    Well, the ECO/Fellowship website is not totally “silent” on their LBBTQ stance: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/wp-content/uploads/Forum-on-Homosexuality-and-the-Bible.pdf

  • Tom Maxwell via Facebook

    And don’t forget the first lines in the Cowardly Lions song: Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Missy
    When you’re born to be a sissy :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Fantastic. Thank you, Tom.

      • Will

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2itQkiQUOE&feature=related

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWiJ3JA9tao

        If I Only Had The Nerve :

        (Cowardly Lion)

        Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Missy

        When you’re born to be a sissy

        Without the vim and verve

        But I could show my prowess

        Be a lion, not a mowess

        If I only had the nerve

        I’m afraid there’s no denyin’

        I’m just a dandylion

        A fate I don’t deserve

        I’d be brave as a blizzard

        (Tin Man)

        I’d be gentle as a lizard

        (Scarecrow)

        I’d be clever as a gizzard

        (Dorothy)

        If the Wizard is a wizard who will serve

        (Scarecrow)

        Then I’m sure to get a brain

        (Tin Man)

        A heart

        (Dorothy)

        A home

        (Cowardly Lion)

        The nerve

        I could watch/listen to The Wizard of Oz and never get tired of it.

        I feel it is truth and beauty personified.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lenore-Moules/100000536694015 Lenore Moules via Facebook

    Maybe you can cross a bridge one step at a time, But sometimes you need to take a BIG step to cross a chasm – you can’t do that in small steps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Lenore: you must be new to my work. I’m so happy you’re here! But … yeah. I pretty much only take big steps.

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    I don’t get it. As I understand it, the PCUSA has an essentially (effectively) congregationalist form of polity; i.e., their local congregations have the ability to hire only the clergy that they want to hire. I know several ordained PCUSA female pastors who have a hard time finding churches to hire them because they are female. Hence, their congregations don’t have to hire ordained pastors who happen to be homosexual. If I’ve got my facts right, there’s no need for those conservative congregations to split away from their denomination. Again, I don’t get it.

    • Diana A.

      Publicity?

  • textjunkie

    Wow. They are using exactly the same types of phrasing we’ve seen all over ACNA as it split from the Episcopal church–”this isn’t about gay people, it’s about reconnecting with a gospel-centered Christianity” or anything else they can think of to come out and say honestly, “yeah, we’re splitting because we think being gay is bad and the other guys don’t.” Probably because if they could put that on their websites and in their “statements” they’d realize that they ARE the problem, as you suggest.

    It’s gotten to the point where anytime I see a church website that says “Bible-centered” or “Jesus-centered and Bible-believing” I run for the hills. Which is just darned sad!

    • Diana A.

      “It’s gotten to the point where anytime I see a church website that says “Bible-centered” or “Jesus-centered and Bible-believing” I run for the hills. Which is just darned sad!”

      Yeah, this is me too and has been since at least the late eighties.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      I thought I was the only one that did that.

    • Will

      A woman once proudly told me that she lived by the Ten Commandments.

      I asked her to name them and was met by a deer-in-the-headlights stare.

      I said as a Christian, surely you know Jesus’ two Greatest Commandments.

      Love God. Love One Another.

      She made a hasty retreat.

      Bible-believing = I don’t read, my pastor spoon-feeds it to me.

    • c’mentista

      they’re making room for anyone with this problem to come.

  • Dzahn

    I watched a movie DVD last night: The Changeling. At the end, the guy who kidnapped and MURDERED innocent young boys, 20 of them (this was based on a true story) was led up the gallows at San Quentin to be executed. Along with him was a minister, who prayed and reassured him spiritually. Well, the thought occurred to me: how is it that Christian ministers will attend, bless, and pray for and with a man who so brutally murdered 20 innocent young boys, but many of these same fine ministers of the gospel of Jesus can’t bring themselves to even consider that homosexuals, who, like themselves, are far better off in a stable relationship with someone who they can truly love and care for and be cared by? What became of their belief “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? or “when you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me”? or “judge not, lest ye be judged”? or “he who is without sin, cast the first stone”? Gandhi was right: I like your Christ, but it is your Christians I do not like.

    • LSS

      I think death-row clergy are traditionally supposed to be trying to get the person to repent before they die? And presumably not sin any more because they will then be dead. And probably the same ones would be just delighted to accept gays, if gays would repent and not do it anymore.

      The problem is where they think that being gay is a sin just the same as doing a murder …

      (we may be making the same point; i couldn’t tell, so i thought i would add this. May need more coffee.)

      • Dzahn

        Maybe I’m just naive (highly likely) as I thought the purpose of a minister attending someone to be executed was to comfort him/her in that awful moment. Of course, you’re right too: they are there to offer them the opportunity to repent and sin no more, which is kinda hard to do while walking to their death. I just marvel at how willing the “righteous” are to help a murderer but totally unwilling to even consider what gay people are trying to say. Christians seem to need an enemy. Since the fall of communism, gay people have been on their chopping block. If they stop persecuting gays, who will their next victim be? Or could they rise to the heights of actually practicing Christianity finally?

        • Sharla

          Could they? No, probably not. But I am not alone in believing this is the last gasp of a mindset and way of being Christian whose time has passed. As I think Dr. King reminded us, the wounded animal is still very dangerous; but it will not be here much longer. If that makes any sense.

    • RonK

      Bieds of a feather?

  • RonK

    Like everything else in the economy, they will live or die by the number of congregants that follow them; alhough that may be hard to determine if they stay within the larger body. And the fact that they stayed within the larger body for purely financial reason shows their hypocrisy.

    • Will

      Where’s the “like” button?

      like like like

  • Will

    W.W.J.H.

    Who Would Jesus Hate?

  • Will

    I want to say, for all my grousing and complaining, that God Exists.

    God Exists, separate and apart from all scripture, churches, and believers.

    It is unfortunate that 2000 yrs after Jesus, we have so many churches, and believers, doing their best to prove how separate and apart from God they really are.

    Please forgive us all Father. We know not what we do.

    • Diana A.

      Cool!

  • Sharon Bowler

    There are many Presbyterian congregation who will refuse to ordain gays. Many who are not part of the ECO. The real reason the ECO happened also includes that they don’t want to associate with congregations who are willing to associate with congregations who do ordain gays.

    Sharon

    • Marty

      It’s not only about ordaining gays. They are leaving because the PCUSA allows people within it to worship the goddess Sophia (Voices of Sophia), PCUSA teach there are many ways to God/eternal life (not Jesus alone), that all religions are the same, that the Word of God is not infallible but has lots of errors because it was written by man. The gay thing was the last straw in years of theological decline in this denomination.

      • Don Rappe

        Incredible.

      • Casey Rathbun

        Marty, where in the Book of Confessions or the Book of Order PC(USA) do you find these untruths about PC(USA). Read the Books and get the facts.

        Casey

  • Sharon Bowler

    I just watched John Ortberg’s video. Wow he is so engaging and inspiring. If I didn’t know the background and real values of this movement, I would want to be a part of it!

    His style is the opposite of Mark Driscoll.

    The thing I don’t understand is this; Since each congregation is free to ordain or not ordain homosexuals, and they are so excited about God’s love and the power of Christ, why don’t they just bring that excitement to their existing churches. The fact is that only a few of them can bring a message as well as John Ortberg can. Nothing will make that new denomination more successful than the old one will be. Ortberg and a few others will always do well and the rest will be as dry and boring as ever.

    I’ve always liked Ortberg, I’m sad to know he’s on the wrong side of this issue.

    Sharon

  • http://coffeeandteapricesandreviews.info Joanna Teeters

    Great blog.Much thanks again. Really Great.

  • Sharon

    Marty, that’s not the PCUSA I know.

  • Sharon

    This misinformation smells like it came from the Presbyterian Layman.

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    (Sorry all the original comments to this post didn’t transfer along with my blog when I moved my whole operation over here to Patheos!)

  • John Thomas

    Seems ECO is going after the larger, affluent PC(USA) churches, no longer a caucus within the larger PC(USA) but a separate denomination (only after the wealthiest churches). My heart breaks for the LGBTQ children in churches who leave the PC(USA), and while I am not PC(USA), I keep the PC(USA) and the local Grace Presbytery in my prayers, and also pray for those who feel compelled to leave.
    Back home, there are two Presbyterian churches– one broke from the PC(USA) some 10 years back, they condemn LGBTQ people, the other welcomes, and nourishes LGBTQ people. I know for a fact the one that left the PC(USA) makes life hell for their LGBTQ youth.

  • Toni

    Seems to me that a denomination founded on hate and exclusion is certainly not Christian. Apparently these people never learned the lesson of the Pharisees.

  • Matt

    This reminds me of when a group split off from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2002 to form the American College of Pediatricians. The reason for the schism? They did not agree with AAP endorsing adoption by same-sex couples. They are a group of physicians who are letting their socially conservative views influence their health recommendations to their patients (and by extension their caregivers/parents, since their patients are underage).

    Probably the most damaging effect of the split is that the organization’s name sounds very mainstream, giving the impression that its claims are much more accepted and much less harmful than they are. It amazes me the lengths to which people will go to keep up the lies about LGBT people.

  • URLinked teresa

    Walter Wink and supporters,

    WE NEED TO CONSIDER IF WALTER WINK’S MIND WAS WEAK WHEN THIS WAS WRITTEN. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
    The cause was complications of dementia, his son Stephen said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/us/walter-wink-theologian-who-challenged-orthodoxy-dies-at-76.html?_r=0

    It is pretty clear the Original Greek says A WOMAN AND A MAN. See the original Greek scriptures you used on pg 16.
    There is no justification of woman and woman or man and man.

    Yes there will be more perversion and it won’t let up. pg 16
    But there is no JUSTIFICATION, to go contrary to the Bible.

    Homosexual people can be tolerated, equally loved. Openly acceptable in the church BUT with repentance, changing one’s ways some slowly but surely, as with any addiction, fault/sin.
    Rev 22:18 ¶ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    Rev 22:19
    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
    Mat 18:6 ¶
    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and thathe were drowned in the depth of the sea.
    offend G4624
    (LOOK IT UP YOURSELF) (It is not good to have a stack of these books accessible to the youth)

    DOESN’T SOUND TOO GOOD FOR THE SUPPORTER OF WALTER WINK AND ASSOCIATES

    http://forusa.org/content/homosexuality-bible-walter-wink

    1Co 7:36
    But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin,

    a virgin
    a marriageable maiden
    a woman who has never had sexual intercourse with a man
    one’s marriageable daughter
    a man who has abstained from all uncleanness and whoredom attendant on idolatry, and so has kept his chastity
    one who has never had intercourse with women

    Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 14
    AV — virgin 14
    Thayer’s Lexicon (Help)

    Click Here for the Rest of the Entry

    if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
    1Co 7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
    1Co 7:39
    The wife

    a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow
    a wife
    of a betrothed woman

    Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 221
    AV — women 129, wife 92
    Thayer’s Lexicon (Help)

    is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
    1Co 7:39
    The wife G1135 is bound G1210 by the law G3551 G1909 as long G5550 as G3745her G846 husband G435

    with reference to sex
    of a male
    of a husband
    of a betrothed or future husband
    with reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy
    any male
    used generically of a group of both men and women

    Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 215
    AV — man 156, husband 50, sir 6, fellow 1, not tr 2
    Thayer’s Lexicon (Help)

    Click Here for the Rest of the Entry

    1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly,
    unruly, G813
    You are warned.
    Mike-

    Love and prayers,
    Teresa

  • URLinked teresa

    In addition thank you very much!! Now I know which church is doing their homework!

    http://www.blbclassic.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3933&t=KJV#

    2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    I am going to “go” to the ECO Presbyterian down my street :)
    And I hope your group find a loving accepting of homosexuality as addicting sins/neg habits, which we all have

  • http://rasmusen.org/ Eric Rasmusen

    “the pastors in the anti-gay lobby receive very generous pension and medical benefits from the PCUSA that they are afraid to leave behind should they follow their conscience to disaffiliate from the denomination.”

    What do you think of the PCUSA silencing clergymen by threatening to take away their pensions if they voice dissent?

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      distasteful and not sadly unexpected if it is true.

    • Kay Carrasco

      What do I think? I think you’re building a straw man. I think you’re spooked by a non-existent boogeyman. I think that’s the kind of nonsensical, blind fear-mongering that drove the formation of the ECO in the first place, which you are apparently proving is still effective. That’s what I think.

  • L Meik

    Its what this story says.”
    It’s always encouraging when someone can’t force their mouth to say what their heart knows is wrong. It means there’s hope for them yet.”

    Unconfessed sin is unconfessed sin. Church leaders should not be leading while in a deviant relationship that dishonors God! Same for any unconfessed sin, visible or not. Gambling, adultery, pornography etc. I understand a denomination backing out of the PCUSA. Gods ways have not changed. A 21 century church with these ordinances breaks God’s heart just as they did in the church 2000 years ago. Sinful as we are as humans, Christian or not… in our sanctification we are to turn more and more, with the Spirits help into the Imago Dei, the image of Christ!

  • Hillary Spragg

    test

  • annabelle

    Thanks for saving me a lot of time this afternoon. I had been wallowing around on that ECO website trying to find out their position on gays (a local anti-gay church joined them) but could find NOTHING. I looked and looked and looked. So I googled their name with “position on gays” and found your great article. And yes, you are correct that their PDF statement of beliefs (posted on their website) is very, very wordy. Your words that “Never have so many words been used to say so little” are so very true. The webmaster on the ECO site needs to put a link to this article on their homepage. It would save a lot of confused people a lot of time.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      love it! thank you, Annabelle.


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