The General Assembly Moderator, Heath Rada, addressed the April 18 Presbytery of Chicago Assembly meeting, delivering a wide ranging review of the denominations challenges and opportunities. He appears to be a very personable, capable and persuasive leader.
One issue addressed is the accusation that the PCUSA has abandoned adherence to the authority of Scripture. He defended the denomination by stating that all ordained PCUSA leaders promise to adhere to the authority of Scripture in their vows. This was the full extent of his response.
Now, let’s return to corporation XYZ. I don’t consider the CEO’s response to be credible, and neither would the PCUSA’s leadership. They, and I, would view the corporation’s signed statements as the standard against which its actual performance is to be measured, not as proof that they have lived up to this standard. The fact that XYZ’s CEO felt compelled to limit his defense in this manner would be viewed as a sign that there are major problems regarding actual performance to those promises.
It should cause great consternation, and soul searching, that this is the defense our current GA Moderator was forced to use on the issue of Biblical authority. Having carefully reviewed and analyzed the 24,000 word public record on two recently adopted Overtures allowing same-gender marriage (see Same Gender Marriage Rationales: An Overview and The Word Became Irrelevant (2 of 2)), I understand why this painful decision was made.
It’s clear that Moderator Rada loves the PCUSA and considers it to be an important part of the Church Universal. But, the fact that we love something doesn’t mean that what is does is always right, or even defensible. We can also loose sight of the ultimate ends for which a loved institution exists.
I too love the PCUSA. But, its ultimate end is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as that Gospel is revealed to us in the fullness of Scripture. The reason that I have been writing most of these posts is to argue that the PCUSA has lost sight of this ultimate end. Yes, every ordained leader must answer these questions in the affirmative:
Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?
Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?
But, when our GA Moderator is forced to focus his defense on the making of these promises as opposed to the public record in keeping them, something has gone terribly wrong.