I’m afraid that there’s no way to ease into this situation. It’s better to just cut to the facts and then deal with them as best we can. And, the simple fact is that the PCUSA published an article on its official web site on May 23, 2013 in which Gnostic material was not just discussed, but enthusiastically embraced. The banner for this article follows.
The following figure is a screen shot of a section of this article. I used my browser search feature to highlight the word “Gnostic.” I have added blue shading to highlight text sections of particular interest.
Prior to the detailed discussion one point must be made, that being an article cannot simply randomly appear on this site. No, numerous management decisions and editorial reviews, all resulting in positive decisions are required. And, once an article is published there are easily dozens of PCUSA leaders who can decide that doing so was a mistake, embarrassment or scandal, and, have it pulled down. So, over two years later we are discussing a heresy-embracing article published and allowed to stand by the PCUSA leadership.
Note first that the stated pretext for this embrace of heresy was their oh so deep desire to draw “the Nones” (i.e., no religious affiliation) into “Christian” faith. You see, given “the Nones” apparent interest in pulp fiction such as The Da Vinci Code, our PCUSA elites have no choice but to embrace Gnostic texts to draw them into the “faith.” These Gnostic texts have been incorporated into God’s Word as “A New New Testament.”
But that’s not all by a long shot. This article also positively references The Jesus Seminar. The New New Testament and the Jesus Seminar are linked by a common theological outlook and participating personnel (there will be much more about the Jesus Seminar in the next post). Here’s what the site linked to in the PCUSA article (and in this post) has to say about The Jesus Seminar (chart and emphasis added).
The Seminar met twice a year to debate technical papers that were prepared and circulated in advance. At the close of debate on each agenda item, Fellows voted using colored beads to indicate the degree of authenticity of the words and deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels. Dropping colored beads into a box soon became a trademark of the Jesus Seminar.
Among the findings is that, in the judgment of the Jesus Seminar Fellows, about 18 percent of the sayings and 16 percent of the deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels are authentic.
Note that no less than ten Gnostic texts were incorporated into the New Testament to create this heretical New New Testament. Could it be that the authors of this post were so ignorant that they didn’t know they were endorsing heresy? I highly doubt it, because they actively attempted to inoculate themselves (and the PSUSA elites named in the post) from this charge using the nearby statement (also a screen shot from the actual post). Note that the blue highlighted section associates themselves with the Disciples and Apostles of Jesus Christ who were martyred by the Roman government for spreading the gospel. The “heresy” of these Disciples and Apostles was to preach Christ’s Gospel to a pagan world ruled by a God Emperor.
So, should some close-minded, low-intellect person (or, perhaps, a person who lacks the magical “secret knowledge” that they have?) accuse them of heresy, they would only be confirming the author’s identification with the true Disciples and Apostles of Jesus Christ! My distress from this pathetic attempt is exceeded only by the fact that it may work for some members of the PCUSA.
The fact that in centuries past people were tortured and killed for heresy doesn’t mean that it’s improper to call certain theological beliefs heretical. And, if this term can’t be applied to the case where ten Gnostic books are added to the New Testament by people who believe that more than 80% of the four Gospels is inauthentic, then there’s nothing to which it can be applied.
The question that we remaining PCUSA members and churches must answer is:
Will we meekly allow ourselves to be led by elites who praise heretics and trumpet heresy?
These elites must be free to believe in and preach such ideas in this great country under protection of our wonderful First Amendment. However, that doesn’t mean that they must be allowed to defile and deface the Gospel of Jesus Christ as representatives of a denomination that claims to be Christian.
Just FYI, here are the comments regarding the New New Testament and the Jesus Seminar. Note that I’m not the only person for whom the word heretical came to mind.