Synod Court Desires Unity over Purity of the Gospel

The Layman Online (May 22, 2012) reported by a vote of 125 to 51 that the Presbytery of Los Ranchos of the PCUSA adopted the following resolution: The Presbytery …affirms that the Bible, The Book of Confessions and the Book of Order...set forth the Scriptural and constitutional standards for ordination and installation. Los Ranchos Presbytery believes the manner of life of ordained ministers should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world, including living either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness and will so notify candidates for ordination/installation and/or membership in the presbytery….

This vote was complained to the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii Permanent Judicial Commission, which was heard on May 4, 2012. It’s ruling, without sustaining the complainants’ specifications of error, admonished the presbytery for its adoption of the resolution that would potentially harm the peace and unity of the church. The court’s decision was as follows: The decision affirms that "the presbytery's resolution is a proper exercise of the powers that are reserved to presbyteries (F-3.0209). It is the presbytery's duty to bear witness to error in doctrine and immorality in practice within its bounds (G-3.0301c)."

After affirming the presbytery's constitutional right and even responsibility to exercise such oversight of its members and candidates, the court further ordered … that the Presbytery of Los Ranchos be admonished that while this PJC considers the resolution constitutional, the use of specific language known to be divisive and inflammatory flies in the face of the responsibility to seek the peace, unity and purity of the church.

Evidently, peace and unity are considered superior values than truth and purity of the Word. No wonder people and churches are leaving the PCUSA denomination. Such decisions mock those who lost their lives for truth during the Reformation. If the synod’s court had its way, there would have been no Reformation, for such a movement flew in the face of peace and unity. Romans 12:18 does admonish us to be at peace with all men if it is within our power to do so. Yet peace must not be at all costs when the purity of the gospel is at stake. If the sum of God’s Word is truth (Psalm 119:160), should we not promote it? In fact, those who do not promote truth actually deceive their neighbor (Jer. 9:5) and do not know God (Jer. 9:3). John says that “he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:2). Jesus equated those who abide in His Word as true disciples (John 8:31). Furthermore, Jesus did not come to bring peace and unity as the world or the PCUSA desires. He came with a sword that would divide people over the truth (Luke 12:51).

Not liking directives of God’s word leads people to follow their own sensuality, which leads to maligning truth (2 Pet. 2:2). This has certainly been the case in denominations that have a low view of Scripture and believe cultural redefinitions are more important that scriptural admonitions. For a synod court to say the Presbytery had the power to rule on error and to determine what is immoral within its bounds and then in the same breath admonish them for breaching the peace and unity of the church is a decision bordering on schizophrenia, for this court cannot tell right from wrong, real from unreal, and cannot logically see that the purity of truth is to be defended over and above co-existence with error and immorality.