Comments on the 222nd General Assembly (3 of 3)

apostasy-definitionThe Consequence of Apostasy

While it appears that the progressive elite who dominate the PCUSA want to drive out all opposition to their ongoing project, the reasons why are less clear.  Why not, for example, pursue a policy of reconciliation that encourages members and churches to remain?  By so doing they would benefit in numerous dimensions, including financial, diversity and credibility, among others.

And yet, even with these indisputable advantages, the 222nd GA has chosen as co-moderators individuals who have led the charge to demean and discourage what remains of non-progressive Christians in the denomination.  Personnel is policy, and thus they have chosen a policy of continued decline.  Why?

To begin answering this question we must first answer another, apparently unrelated one, that being:

Why, in over 24,000 words of Overture Rationale argumentation in support of same-gender marriage did its proponents not once quote their supposed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

The answer is obvious.  They didn’t quote Jesus Christ even once because the overwhelmingly relevant statement about Christian marriage by our Savior is:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

They had no intention of allowing the teaching of their supposed Lord and Savior to prevent the obtaining of a goal that they had received from (in their minds) a higher source of authority.  And so, they proceeded to render Holy Scripture irrelevant in order to create a false “Jesus Christ” who supports their goal.

So, what does all of this have to do with the original question?  I do not pretend to be a mind reader, so I can only posit a theory that can be checked by past information and compared to future events.  But, given all that I have learned about these post-modern PCUSA elites, my best theory is that they wish to eject non-progressive Christians in order to create a “safe space” for their apostasy.

Therefore, all of the financial and credibility gains are far more than canceled out by the possibility of theological diversity that forces them to face that Jesus Christ, as revealed in Holy Scripture, said:

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

The progressive elites are happy to make room in the PCUSA for openly Gnostic heretics and aggressive atheists.  However, it appears that there is no longer room for Bible trusting Christians who might blurt out in polite progressive Christian community that Jesus said:

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

I believe that this is the most likely motive force for their compulsion to drive us out or bend us to their wills.  If you or your church doesn’t have the Christian stability and courage to repulse the coming onslaught, then you are likely best off fleeing now.  If you and/or your church do, then stay and shine the light of the Gospel into this dark and demented denomination.  Their 24,000  empty words are conclusive testimony to the fact that they have no answer to the fact that our Lord and Savior,  Jesus Christ said in Holy Scripture:

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Amen.

Advertisements

A Continued Excursion into PCUSA Heresy

The PCUSA 222 General Assembly (2016)

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 11.36.03 AMThe 222nd General Assembly (GA) of the PCUSA will occur from June 18–25 in Portland, Oregon.  It turns out that the official hosting Presbytery is the one that approved the Rev. John Shuck as a pastor.  By so doing, the Presbytery of the Cascades welcomed an open, aggressive atheist into its membership.

You can learn more about this Presbytery’s contribution to the same-gender marriage debacle here and here.  I’m certain that their prominent role in falsifying what Jesus Christ teaches about the institution of Christian marriage significantly contributed to earning them this honor.Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 11.37.25 AM

Certainly the fact that they accepted an aggressive atheist as a pastor for one of their churches didn’t count against them.  It was probably a plus, given the PCUSA’s love of inclusiveness for heretics.

I will have more to say about the 222nd General Assembly in the near future.  We have already established that heretics are fine as pastors in the PCUSA.  It’s possible that by this GA’s end, Bible trusting Christians will be under denominational condemnation.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!  (Isaiah 5:20, RSV)

How Can We Know Who Jesus Christ is? (Part 5)

WHOHowJCThe Confession of 1967 (1 of 2)

The following is the first paragraph from the Book of Confessions introduction to the Confession of 1967.

In approving the Confession of 1967, the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America adopted its first new confession of faith in three centuries. The turbulent decade of the 1960s challenged churches everywhere to restate their faith. While the Second Vatican Council was reformulating Roman Catholic thought and practice, Presbyterians were developing the Confession of 1967.

I have read this Confession numerous times over the years.  However, this is the first time that I have done so since beginning the journey documented in this blog.  Given the theological debacle that has occurred in the case of same gender marriage (among other issues), I can’t help but be wary of the “first new confession of faith in three centuries.”

That is, this Confession was written well after the The Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy which occurred in the 1920s and ’30s (the Theological Declaration of Barman was written in the mid-1930’s, but addressed the specific issues associated with National Socialism’s attempt in Germany to conform Christianity to its totalitarian ideology).  While a detailed discussion is beyond the scope of this post, suffice it to say that by the mid-1930’s the Mainline Presbyterian denomination (from which the PCUSA emerged) was securely in the modernist, liberal camp (the move from “modernist” to “post-modernist” theology has been one of bad to worse).

Therefore, the Confession of 1967 was written and approved by a denomination dominated by liberal Christians.  Surely then we should carefully scrutinize it for theological discrepancies between this and the other Confessions that were written centuries prior to the ascendency of liberal Christianity.

Significant discrepancies were identified as the Confession of 1967 progressed towards passage.  However, it appears that the “people in the pews” were satisfied at the time that this divergence from previous Confessions was evolutionary and of limited consequence to the overall doctrinal position of the denomination.  However, events of the past 50 years have shown that these discrepancies were revolutionary and momentous.  The full rancid fruit of these doctrinal deviations has been on display (see here, here, here and here) in the same-gender marriage debate.

If there’s only one thing that I’ve learned in this recent work, it’s this:

Don’t take what is said by the PCUSA elite at face value.  Rather, look for the inconsistencies and omissions that can, over time, be leveraged to smuggle false, foreign ideas into Christianity.

This statement will likely cause discomfort in some readers.  However, given the PCUSA’s recent record, how can we possibly avoid such a conclusion?

The only real alternative is to go on pretending that all of the theological, social and spiritual destruction that has occurred in the PCUSA over the past 50 years mysteriously occurred in spite of a solid, true doctrinal foundation.  I simply can’t say this because my conscience would rightly accuse me of telling a purposeful lie were I to do so.

It is indeed a humbling experience as I conduct the research associated with this blog.  In particular, I regularly uncover analysis from generations past by people who clearly saw the approaching storm and had the courage to describe it clearly.  What they foresaw I have only recently stumbled and bumbled into, after wasted years of inattention and cowardice.  The most recent occurrence is a booklet on The Confession of 1967 by Dr. Van Til.  What he wrote in 1967 better identifies and explains postmodern Christianity and its consequences than could I ever, even with my advantage of hindsight.

Though we concede that the new creed and its new theology speak highly of both Christ and the Bible, we nevertheless contend that new meanings have been attached to old, familiar words. The whole question, accordingly, is one of reinterpretation. One may take a milk bottle and fill it with a poisonous white liquid and call it milk, but this does not guarantee that the poisonous liquid is milk. It may well be some thing that is highly dangerous to man.

Such is the case, we believe, with the new theology: It is an essentially humanistic theology which disguises itself as an up-to-date Christian theology. Of course, we are told that the new Confession is contemporary in its view of truth. We are also told that the Westminster Standards are outdated, being written in an age of absolutism. By contrast, today’s theological thinkers know that truth is relative to man and the human situation. Has not Immanuel Kant taught us that man can know nothing of God and of Christ in so far as Christ is said to be God as well as man? From Kant recent philosophers and theologians have learned that man’s conceptual knowledge is limited to the impersonal world of science and does not apply to the religious dimension.

Though the twentieth-century church has been informed by the new theology that it can have no objective or conceptual knowledge of God and of Christ, this same theology still continues to speak about God and Christ in eloquent terms. But, as we have already noted, these terms have new definitions. The God and the Christ of this contemporary theology have very little in common with the God and the Christ of historic Christianity.  There is good reason to believe that the new theology has virtually manufactured a new Christ, a person who is essentially different from the Savior of the Scriptures.

Is this not “postmodern Christianity” foreseen?  Should we not seriously consider past analysis that accurately predicted the theological and spiritual chaos that The Confession of 1967 precipitated?  If you honestly believe that all is well in the PCUSA since 1967, then feel free to ignore all that follows (though I beg you to reconsider your belief).  If you are concerned that something has gone terribly wrong, then perhaps there is reason to continue.

Finally, I’m well aware  that for some Presbyterians this severe criticism of The Confession of 1967 is shocking.  After all, it was approved by the denomination almost 50 years ago, and, it is now a settled part of our Book of Confessions.  My responses are:

  1. I am only following to where the evidence appears to lead
  2. We are not bound to continue adherence to any human sourced statement if it is shown to be counter to Holy Scripture.  As stated in the Scots Confession: “So if the interpretation or opinion of any theologian, Kirk, or council, is contrary to the plain Word of God written in any other passage of the Scripture, it is most certain that this is not the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost, although councils, realms, and nations have approved and received it. We dare not receive or admit any interpretation which is contrary to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of Scripture, or to the rule of love.”

In Part 2 I will address the Confession of 1967 as it relates to the Bible and interpretation thereof.

Who is Jesus Christ and How do We Know?

WHOHowJC

The admonition to “follow Jesus Christ” is an unsurprising staple in Christian writing.  However, the extent to which many Christians assume that any current culturally popular belief must be aligned with our Savior’s character and teaching is surprising.  The underlying assumption in most cases appears to be that if the writer believes something is good, then surely Christ must agree.  Unfortunately, in other cases, people who should know better nevertheless attribute beliefs to Christ that are easily demonstrated to be at a minimum misleading, and, even false.

My point is that we too often project our own beliefs onto Jesus without actually doing the hard work of seeking and following Scripture’s actual testimony.  Or, we allow someone who appears to have “moral authority” to lead us into conclusions that we never validate through our own study.  The consequence isn’t necessarily that the things we have been told about Jesus are outright falsehoods.  Rather, what we have been told is so incomplete that we are led into false conclusions.  This happened in spades in the PCUSA discussion on same-gender marriage.

Regardless of the sources or reasons, many Bible believing Christians approach Scripture with preconceived ideas imprinted upon their minds.  These imprints are firmly established and powerfully persistent.  This situation often leads to a result called confirmation bias, which is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

So, allow me to ask you a pointed question.

If it turned out that something you have believed about Jesus Christ is shown by Scripture to be untrue, will you change your view so as to become conformed to Scripture, or, will you ignore Scripture’s testimony in order to go on believing that which you prefer to be the truth?

It is upon this question that the future of the PCUSA depends.  On ordination of practicing homosexuals and  same-gender marriage, hundreds of thousands have already exited the denomination over this issue.  The next instance of this discontinuity between elite leadership and parishioners could be over the issue of Christian pacifism.

Gnosticism Reimagined? (Part 7)

SecretKnowledgeA Working Hypothesis

Over the course of this blog’s existence I have attempted to understand the reasons that our PCUSA elites feel free to ignore and distort the clear teaching of Scripture on numerous issues, Christian marriage being the most recent and prominent.  However, given these deliberations on post-modernism, the Jesus Seminar and Gnosticism, I believe that there is a credible hypothesis that covers the known facts.  This hypothesis, stated from the point of view of the PCUSA post-modern elite, is as follows.

  1. There is no such thing as “objective truth” since post-modern philosophy has disproved this as a possibility.
  2. The Bible cannot be considered to be a reliable source of objective information about God and His relationship to humankind.  In fact, most of the Bible, including the Gospels, contains inauthentic information.
  3. Because Christianity has erroneously used the Bible as THE reliable source of objective information about God and His relationship to humankind, it has failed to successfully evolve as human knowledge and experience has increased over time.
  4. Given this failure, Christianity is currently experiencing a crisis that can only be resolved if it is massively reimagined and updated.
  5. The vast majority of practicing Christians lack the knowledge, creativity and will to reimagine and update the faith.
  6. However, we are  the elite group of Christians who are capable of this feat.  We have  aligned ourselves with the forces in Western Civilization that are working within the enlightened secular context of radical progressivism.  The economic and social pillars of this enlightened secular force are socialism and multiculturalism.
  7. Our implicit religious justification for this authority is reimagined Gnosticism.
  8. Our challenging project is to align Christianity with the enlightened secular world, thus creating a comprehensive, cohesive society in which all aspects of human activity are pursuing the same end goals.
  9. In order to accomplish this goal, we must undermine and then dissolve historic orthodox Christianity so that it can be replaced by the new, enlightened version.
  10. While the Bible can’t yet be openly disregarded, it must be undermined, distorted and selectively used so as to, over time, wean the ignorant masses from its grip.
  11. Due to our  obvious superiority, we, the secret knowledge elite, have the right to destroy Christianity and remake it in our own image.*
  12. Anyone who opposes this project is, by definition, not part of this secret knowledge elite, and therefore must be defeated at any and all costs.

*Thus, this group exhibits a form of narcissism, defined as “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.”


The following figure provides a visual representation of this working hypothesis.  Note that I am not claiming that a significant proportion of PCUSA elites consciously consider themselves to be Gnostic.  However, I am claiming that many of them, in order to justify their goals and actions,  appear to have have  integrated Gnostic-like ideas into their worldview.

PCUSA-Model

Time and experience will tell if this hypothesis is on the whole correct.

With this post the Gnosticism Reimagined series is completed.  I will explore the issue of multiculturalism in the next series — Loving All Our Neighbors.

Gnosticism Reimagined? (Part 4)

A New New Testament and the Jesus Seminar

SecretKnowledgeIt would be a grave mistake to not further explore the connectivity between A New New Testament and the Jesus Seminar established in Part 3 of this series.  This connectivity is clearly stated in the Presbyterian News Service article on the New New Testament.  The two key paragraphs are excerpted below.

Reyes-Chow is part of a covenant group led by noted theologian and scholar Hal Taussig, which produced A New New Testament …

[snip]

… The discovery of the Gnostic Gospels in Egypt rekindled debate among theologians and religious scholars about what a “proper” New Testament should contain. One think tank that emerged was the 150-member Jesus Seminar founded by Robert Funk. During his lifetime, Funk advocated for a volume along the lines of what was produced by Taussig’s council; Funk also lobbied strongly for the extraction of some books in the New Testament, among them the Gospel of John.

Two of Taussig’s Jesus Seminar colleagues — John Dominic Crossan and Karen King — joined his council for A New New Testament. This move aroused some criticism, including critics who wondered what authority the council members had to re-write God’s Word.

Note the following:

  1. The Gnostic texts, the Jesus Seminar and the debate about the books that should be contained in a “proper” New Testament are directly connected
  2. There is direct personnel overlap between the council for A New New Testament and the Jesus Seminar: Hal Taussig, John Dominic Crossan and Karen King.
  3. The connection between the PCUSA and A New New Testament is through the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, about whom much more will be said in the following posts.

The Presbyterian News Service article presents the Jesus Seminar as an interesting and credible group of scholars.  The only hint of something amiss is the statement (see above excerpt) that the Seminar’s founder, Robert Funk, “lobbied strongly for the extraction of some books in the New Testament, among them the Gospel of John.”  This statement completely fails to convey the truth about the motivating beliefs of Robert Funk, or, of those who chose to throw their theological / intellectual lots in with him.  We can begin to see the truth by visiting the web site of the organization founded by Funk, the Westar Institute (first “about” paragraph excerpted below, emphasis added).

Westar Institute — home of the Jesus Seminar — is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.

Funk-1

Robert Funk Theses (1 of 3)

Funk-2

Robert Funk Theses (2 of 3)

Along the left side of this post are excerpts from the “Twenty-One Theses” of Robert Funk, which are published on the Westar Institute site.  I have included screen shots of the key sections: Theology, Christology, the Canon and the Language of Faith.  Although virtually everything in these theses is appallingly heretical, I have nonetheless highlighted (with red shading) those which are most relevant to this particular topic.

Funk-3

Robert Funk Theses (3 of 3)

We get off to a rousing start with thesis number one: God is dead.  I beg you, dear reader, to stop and seriously ponder.  The PCUSA has published a news article that discusses in positive terms an organization who’s very first motivating thesis is that God is nonexistent.

With regard to Jesus Christ, Funk is no less radical, opening with: We should give Jesus a demotion (i.e., no longer consider Him to be divine).  He then proceeds to call the doctrine of the atonement subrational, sub ethical and monstrous.  Are you prepared to accept these views to be included within the bounds of acceptable Christian belief?  If not, what word except heretical is sufficient to describe these ideas?  If so, then what is heretical?

Can there be any surprise that “The Canon” of Scripture is described as an attempt to invent Christianity as opposed to the inspired Word of God?  And, if the original Scriptural canon was merely a human act of invention, then why shouldn’t we go on inventing and re-inventing Christianity?  Finally, note that the Bible does not contain fixed, objective standards of behavior.  That’s extremely important if your project is to bring religious beliefs into line with the prevailing elite cultural perspectives on sexuality and marriage, among others.  The direct overlap with post-modern Christian beliefs must also be noted, in particular:

  • “Absolutism seems to be replaced by relativism. Christian morality and theology are relative to the people who embrace them. Hence the rise of moral and theological plurality, assuming that no one perspective has the dominant position in church, and no single unique outlook on reality accounts for the world we live in.”
  • “The concept of truth, including biblical truth, seems to have no correspondence to objective reality. Hence, the search for truth appears to be a vain exercise and the reader should be content with individual/personal interpretation. Systematic theology should be replaced by “edifying” theology, which aims at a continuing conversation between the reader and scriptures, rather than discovering truth.”

This is the philosophical atmosphere in which the Jesus Seminar and A New New Testament exists.  Given all that is here said and implied, what can possibly be asked except (see bottom of the third figure) “What Comes after Christianity?”  Perhaps Gnosticism?

What’s to be Done? (Part 4)

trustinlord
Fighting Back

The Means (1 of 5)

1. Trust in the Lord

Let’s be clear-minded.  Those against whom we are proposing to contend hold all the positions of power.  They dominate the justice system, government bureaucracy, the press, the universities and schools, the entertainment industry, most Mainline denominations and many other groups as well.  And, they have clearly shown that they will use this power to destroy anyone who is both vulnerable and in opposition to their view of marriage.

Thus, to participate in the defense of religious freedom in order to ensure Jesus Christ’s definition of marriage is upheld in our Christian churches, organizations and individual consciences is to expose yourself to cruel and often effective assault.  Just to be clear, here is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on the purpose for and definition of marriage.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”  (Matthew 19:4-6)

This is not about your moral superiority to others, nor about hatred against others.  No, this is about obedience to Him who has given His all to save us from the consequences of our sin and to lead us into new life.  If your opposition is motivated by anything other that that, then, please, find something else to do.

But, if you do wish to proceed under these terms, then be of good cheer!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  (Matthew 6:25)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23, RSV)

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.

Hark, glad songs of victory
     in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
     the right hand of the Lord is exalted,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” (Psalm 118:14-16)

May these words from Endings and Beginnings stand behind all that we think, say and do.

For God does not depend on numbers of adherents or the power of human will to achieve His ends. He calls us to be faithful wherever we are, not because we must prevail, but rather because we so love and trust our Lord and Savior that we simply must testify to His Gospel.

Praise be to God!

What’s to be Done? (Part 3)

Chess-board-strategyFighting Back

The Situation

The CNN poll cited in Part 2 is indeed a bit depressing.  However, there’s no reason for despair.  For starters, I suspect that many points from that 59% approval are due to the successful campaigns of intimidation that the radical progressives have conducted against people or institutions who dare to publicly object.

Even granting this “majority” approval, what percentage of American citizens are in favor of the suspension of religious liberty in order to support gay marriage?  My guess that 15-20% would be a generous estimate.

There’s also that fact that the threat to religious freedom would affect Christians, Jews, Muslims and many other faiths.  Within Christianity, Catholics and Protestants would find common cause.  Even within denominations that have already succumbed to gay marriage, many parishioners remain who are in opposition.  With regard to the PCUSA, I believe that this excerpt from An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum still describes many members.

Presbyterians, for example, now typically feel that they have more in common with serious, believing Catholics and Evangelicals — with serious, believing Jews, for that matter — than they do vertically, with the unserious, unorthodox members of their own denomination.

Finally, we have the intellectual laziness and blazing hypocrisy of a movement that has won so much for so long, based on false moral superiority and cruel intimidation, in our favor.  The fact is that progressive radicals live in a hermetically sealed bubble of presumption that remains intact primarily due to the reluctance of those who know better to push back.

There are so many excellent examples of this appalling isolation, but my current favorite is a New York Times editor’s (Dean Baquet) explanation (Washington Examiner) for why they regularly publish works of art that are offensive to Christians but not those that offend Muslims.  With regard to not publishing the offensive Charlie Hebdo artwork, even though it had led to a reprisal massacre, he sanctimoniously said:

“[L]et’s not forget the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended by any depiction of what he sees as his prophet,” Baquet explained in a statement to Politico. “I don’t give a damn about the head of [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] but I do care about that family and it is arrogant to ignore them.”

This statement was part of a defense for publishing Niki Johnson’s “Eggs Benedict,” a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI (Milwaukee Art Museum) fashioned entirely out of condoms.  After explaining that, due to the subjective judgements associated with these decisions some level of offense can’t avoid being given, he let the real truth slip out.

“And finally, the very different reactions bears this out,” he added. “Hundreds of thousands of people protested worldwide, for instance, after the Danish cartoons were published some years ago. While some people might genuinely dislike this Milwaukee work, there doesn’t seem to be any comparable level of outrage.

There you have it.  Because Christianity simply doesn’t produce people who will violently respond to offensive and blasphemous depictions of their faith, the Times’ standard should vary accordingly!

The fact that Christians don’t respond with violence to objectionable depictions should be celebrated.  The reasons for and implications of this tolerance should be explored.  They would unavoidably find the Person and purpose of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ should they do so.

But, I contend that there must be a limit to this tolerance.  While violence and cruelty is never a proper Christian response to such a debate in a civil society, that doesn’t mean that there is never call for a stout defense of our right to religious freedom.

How do you imagine that these self defined moral paragons would respond if millions of Christians (along with members of other faiths) peacefully mobilized to defend their rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment?  I don’t think that they would approve.  However, they would finally be forced to pubically defend positions that many fair-minded citizens would find objectionable.

What’s to be Done? (Part 2)

Fighting Back

The Goal

all-things-possibleThe first crucial step when entering a struggle is to define your goal.  The CNN poll linked to in the previous post says that almost 59% of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.  This result may or may not be sustained over time.  However, at this critical point in time, it means that the citizenry isn’t interested in opposing this ruling.

Over the next decade tens of thousands of gay couples in all 50 states will marry under the protection of this ruling.  To one extent or another, changes to existing laws will be made in all 50 states to accommodate the existence of these same gender marriages.  The toothpaste thus will not be reinserted into the tube.  Gay marriage is here to stay in America.  I thus contend that attempting to reverse this situation would be a waste of our limited resources.

The next big battle will likely be over religious freedom.  That is, the Supreme Court has created a brand new constitutional “right” to gay marriage using the 14th Amendment

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

that is in conflict with our 226 year old right to religious freedom, specifically declared in the 1st Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thus there is now the real possibility of a direct and sustained assault against the religious freedom of those who object to gay marriage on religious grounds.  That is where we must make our stand.  Therefore, a proposed statement of our goal follows.

Ensure that the religious conscience is not denied space to operate in our society in general, but particularly on the issue of gay marriage.  In particular:

  1. Religious individuals and institutions must have the right to continue teaching and acting on the definition of marriage (among other doctrines, norms and institutions) that originates from their sacred texts.  For example:
    • A college or university run by a religious institution can limit married housing to couples that  meet their traditional definition of marriage
    • An adoption service run by a religious institution can limit the placement of children to couples that  meet their traditional definition of marriage
  2. Individuals and institutions must not be forced by the state to participate in events that conflict with their religious beliefs.  For example:
    • A shop owner or service provider cannot be compelled to participate in a gay wedding through their products or services if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
    • A church, person or organization cannot be compelled to allow use of their property for a gay wedding if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
  3. Individuals and institutions must be protected from discrimination by the state due to the teaching and acting on of their religious beliefs.  For example:
    • The tax-exempt status of a church or organization cannot be denied by the state because they adhere to the traditional definition of marriage in their teaching and policies
    • The right to freedom of speech cannot be denied to individuals or institutions due to conflict with secular laws and policies, including those associated with gay marriage

Note that this goal is not intended to prevent same gender couples from marrying and living out their lives together.  All of the particulars and examples in the previous list have to do with the right of individuals and institutions to practice their religious beliefs free from state compulsion and discrimination.  The intended end-state is one in which gay couples have the right to marry, but that religious individuals and institutions have the right to decline participation in or endorsement of this secular institution.

If the right to marry is all that the gay rights movement is after, then there should be no problem.  They have won that right, and, it has a virtually zero chance of being overturned.  If, as many fear, the end goal is the destruction of traditional religion by forcing it into submission to whatever the state decrees, then there will be a major problem.

If we lose our religious freedom, we will have lost the core, founding purpose for the United States of America.  Religious individuals and institutions may soon have to decide if they are going to stand and fight or surrender.

What’s to be Done? (Part 1)

keep-calm-and-speak-truth-to-power-3If you are an orthodox Christian or simply a traditionalist who isn’t willing to affirm the sudden redefinition of marriage (along with many other social norms), you’re probably feeling a bit low.  After all, the radical, secular progressive mob (and their fellow travelers in the Mainline churches) appears to be on the march, winning every contest.  They have made it abundantly clear that, if you persist in opposition, or, can be tied to past opposition, you risk having your good name, livelihood, family and social life destroyed in a frenzy of denunciation.  The goals of this strategy are to:

  1. Intimidate you into submission, or at least silence
  2. By accomplishing 1. convincing everyone who has opposing views that they are isolated and vulnerable, thus further advancing said submission or silence.

I’m not making a theoretical argument here.  No, it’s entirely based on actual events.  Here’s a summary from The Federalist:

This is aside from the small, petty battles like refusing to do business with people who oppose same-sex marriage.

The above is a summary of what has happened prior to the Supreme Court decision.  While we can always hope for the best, we’re better off preparing for the worst, particularly given what some of the four Supreme Court dissenters had to say in their written opinions.  For example, Justice Alito said that this decision:

… will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

Justice Scalia was less direct, but effectively identified the grounds upon which the coming assault will be made (emphasis added):

The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. . . .   And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

The first step in developing an effective response is to face reality.  And, the first reality to face is that those of us in opposition are in the minority.  I’m not personally convinced that items 1. and 2. above haven’t added a significant number of “just for show” supporters.  However, regardless of the motivation, large majorities of Americans are stating support for the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

The second step is to acknowledge that our past strategies to defend our values have utterly failed.  They have failed in the PCUSA and they have failed in the United States.  If we want a different outcome then we will need to make some changes, which will be discussed next.