View Full Version : Church ordered to withdraw statement that Christ is only agent of salvation....

04-21-02, 09:31 PM
The Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of Central Florida Presbytery last month ordered First Presbyterian Church, of Sebastian, FL, to rescind a statement of theological beliefs it adopted last May. The statements affirm that Jesus Christ is the only agent of salvation; that the Bible is infallible; and that sexual behavior is appropriate only between married heterosexuals.

Full story from Presbyterian News Service http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/02141.htm

What do you think about this?

Flannel Avenger
04-21-02, 10:50 PM
I find it highly disturbing that something that is such a basic tenet of Christianity is disputed.

04-22-02, 01:10 AM
I read that article, and it doesn't sound like those three statements are the point of contention here ... the article specifically says the problem some hold is with the additional statement:

that church leaders “are called to uphold these confessions and to be people who are chaste in singleness and faithful within the covenant of marriage.”

From the article it looks like a certain group of Presbyterian lay people are concerned about the exclusive nature this brings--excluding gay and lesbian persons from holding leadership positions within the church.

My personal opinion of this is somewhat in the stages of "discernment". I think it's a tough call with the gay and lesbian culture. For instance, let's take the issue of lying. What if one pastor has a real problem with lying, and he's making some effort to turn away from it, but it's a slow going process. He goes a week without lying, then he slips and lies, feels guilty, repents, etc. We're all on that process: none of us can just say one day they'll stop sinning and then stop. But we don't keep people from the ministry because of that.

With homosexuals on the other hand, their sin is more of a black and white nature. They're either in a homosexual relationship and/or participating in sexual relations with multiple partners out of wedlock; or they're not. There's no "on the path to wholeness, trying not to, slipping occasionally but moving towards holiness in general." In a way it's not fair, because homosexual people are expected to have the strength and ability to abstain completely from their sin in order to fulfil a call from God; whereas the rest of us have the "freedom to mess up once in a while."

It makes me less quick to jump right on the bandwagon saying, "homosexuals can't be pastors." But then, I also have to say I wouldn't be very likely to attend a church with a gay pastor because I do believe the action is a sin. Anyway, that's my two cents.

04-22-02, 09:16 AM
One of the problems with this issue is that the U.S. Pesbyterian Church doesn't advocate the ordination of openly and practicing homosexuals.

I realize that we are the only ones who put degrees on sin, but the repercussions for homosexual practice are much greater than the repercussions for lying.

The Bible clearly tells us we are to obey the laws of the land. And last I knew, homosexual marriages were not allowed in Florida. I know they are legal in some states but I don't think Florida was one of them.

I'm opposed to same sex marriages and I'm opposed to lying but somehow in my mind the comparison just doesn't measure up.

For me its like comparing spitting on the sidewalk (a citeable offense in some cities) and exposing your self to a child (illegal in all states). The Bible tells us that the pastor of a church should not be a novice and if he is struggling with something so profound as homosexuality then he shouldn't be pastoring or leading a congregation. God's word tells us that they have the greater calling and because of that the greater responsibility which will in turn bring the greater judgment.

Just my 3 cents.

(edited to correct my policy error regarding the Presbyterian Church)

04-22-02, 03:38 PM
thanks for your perspective, Multimom. Although when talking about degrees of sin, I think that sins that hurt others are "worse" than sins that hurt just ourselves. If a pastor repeatedly lies to his congregation (for example; where the money is going; what he spends his leisure time doing; denying sins he has committed; etc.) he is hurting countless numbers of people. If two homosexuals are in a committed relationship to one another, the people they are hurting, presumably, are just themselves. Of course there is the issue of leading others down a path of sin but that's present with sin of every type.

What do you think?

And, if homosexual sins are "worse" only in human terms than lying and things of that nature then why should our human terms matter at all if a homosexual person is called by God to be a pastor? What about "he who is guilty of breaking any part of the law is guilty of the whole law" (sorry I don't remember the exact verse). I'm asking because, these are questions I'm asking myself. I'd like to hear your perspective, as well as everyone else here.

Flannel Avenger
04-22-02, 05:58 PM
A pastor engaging in homosexual behavior or supporting homosexual behavior is as bad as a pastor lying and stealing or encouraging lying and stealing. Sin is sin. Just because it has become politically incorrect to say that homosexuality is wrong should not change the position of the church.

Basically, a normal Christian is supposed to emulate Christ in all things they do, so we are held to a higher standard. A pastor is a leader of Christians and is held to an even higher standard.

The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, so I fail to see the problem in not allowing homosexuals to be ministers.

It might be described as a conflict of interests.

04-22-02, 06:14 PM
So, Flannel Avenger, I have some questions for you:

1. Are pastors required to be sinless? Or are there just certain sins unacceptable for pastors to commit? If so, who decides what they are? I see no Biblical model for this. I see a Biblical model for leaders to be called to a higher standard but shouldn't that high standard be between God and the pastor, rather than decided by people--people who are not invovled in the calling nor the relationship between the leader and God?

2. If you answer that by saying pastors who are homosexual are choosing to live in their sin, whereas a pastor who has a problem with lying is in a process of repentance even if he or she fails once in a while, then I have a second question (er ... set of questions :rolleyes: ): Haven't you ever been convicted of a sin you've been committing, and then after you were convicted of it, you began a process of repentance? What if homosexuals simply haven't been convicted of their sin by God yet? Shouldn't we trust God, if a homosexual person is called to be a pastor, that God will convict them of their sin in his time?

Again, the reason I ask these questions of you (and everyone) is, I have become unsatisfied with the usual pat answers given, and I'm asking these questions myself. I'm very curious to hear everyone's thoughts on this. I could be on to something, or I could very well just be off my rocker :D

Flannel Avenger
04-22-02, 06:24 PM
Pastors are supposed to have a closer relationship to God than the average Christian and that relationship should manifest itself by the Pastor sinning less than the average Christian.

If God has called a homosexual to be a pastor, they should not begin a ministry until after their sin has been dealt with (this goes for all people. A pathological liar needs to deal with his sin before he considers starting a ministry, or a theif, etc etc etc). The problems with homosexuals in the ministry is as follows: It creates the idea that it is ok to be homosexual despite the Bible saying that such behavior is an abomination to God.
The Pastor is associating himself with a group who is living unrepentant in sin.

All sin can be forgiven by grace through the Sacrifice of Christ, but those who are places in authority should not be members of an unrepentant group of sinners. If somebody who is homosexual were to proclaim that homosexuality is wrong and that by doing it is a sin and were to live a celibate life (if they cannot bring themselves to an attraction to the opposite sex) then I would say that they could be a pastor.

In summary, what I'm basically trying to say is, the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and anybody who wants to be a pastor must acknowledge that, and if they have been guilty of that sin at one time, to have repented of it before they enter the ministry.

04-22-02, 06:42 PM

Conversely, should someone who is a serial murderer, who is "attempting to deal with the problem" be allowed to hold a position as a pastor? What about someone who is a constant drunkard?

I would say that someone who is a constant liar should not be allowed to hold a ministerial position. For one, it is part of the definition of pastorship that the pastor is a leader of his flock. It is his duty to uphold a higher standard. That does not mean that he will be perfect (see Romans 7 and remember who it is that is talking!). However, in all of it Paul constantly speaks of how he is striving to attain the measure of goodness Christ requires of him. With regards to most of the people of whom I am aware who favor the ordination of practicing homosexuals, those they would ordain are not attempting to repent or change their lifestyles. The discussion of a homosexual person who IS trying to repent is one that should not be ignored, but from what I've seen this is not the issue that is at stake in most circles where this discussion is ongoing.

One thing that you miss- ALL sinful actions are ones that are chosen. Action, by definition, requires a choice to make that action. A person is not excused from a sinful action because he's "dealing with a problem and trying to get over it".

Someone who is spiritually weak enough to be enslaved to a sinful behavior should not be a pastor. I think the qualifications for eldership in Titus 1 apply in this case as well.

I'm trying to get a coherent set of thoughts, and I'm not sure I'm pulling it off.

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


04-22-02, 08:12 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful responses, Jason and Flannel Avenger. This is helping me discern my understanding of this theology. (My gut reaction through all of this is that practicing homosexuals shouldn't be pastors, it's just that I need to deal with the logical questions I have regarding that before fully putting myself on that side of the fence).

I would like to address one thing Jason said; or rather ask for clarification.

One thing that you miss- ALL sinful actions are ones that are chosen. Action, by definition, requires a choice to make that action. A person is not excused from a sinful action because he's "dealing with a problem and trying to get over it".

Someone very close to me related the experience that when she was a child, she had unwanted sexual experiences with other children that she was too shy to prevent from happening. This person, still as a child, went on to have other sexual experiences that she initiated with other children. When asked "why?" she could not tell me. She "just did." Now, she is racked with guilt, even though at the time she didn't cognitively say to herself, "this is bad and wrong, but I am choosing to do it anyway." She actually at the time did not assign any moral value to it, and probably did it simply because humans are wired that way--we learn something, then we turn around and do it. Mom hugs her 5-year-old when she cries, so the 5-year-old learns to hug others when they cry.

Another experience I've had is with being judgemental. It is a sin to be judgemental of other people, but I was influenced by some Christian leaders in my life several years ago that in regards to certain sins or types of people, it was "ok" to think you were better than them. No one ever came out and told me that in so many words, but they clearly displayed that attitude and I saw them as a role model. So I did as well. It was only recently that God convicted me of that sin. At the time, I was under the impression that having that attitude was not only okay but a good thing, a sign that you could discern the righteous from the unrighteous--it was almost a spiritual gift--discernment. My sinning in this case was not a fully informed, logical decision to disobey God ... right? (this is why I ask, why shouldn't we trust God to convict homosexuals of their sin in his time--as he did with my sin and he probably will with more of my sin in the future).

I'm not saying that I think any of us is "allowed" to remain in sin because "it's not our fault". I think everyone needs to take responsibility for their sin and make a choice to strive for holiness. I'm just saying I'm not convinced that all sin is an informed and deliberate choice all the time. What are your thoughts on the examples I gave?

Breni Sue
04-23-02, 02:36 AM
I'm just saying I'm not convinced that all sin is an informed and deliberate choice all the timeWe become accountable for our sins when are aware of the difference between right and wrong. To put this in perspective: A 3 year old who lies for the 1st time cannot be held accountable because they do not know that lying is wrong. Yes, they are still doing something they shouldn't be doing whether they realise it or not. But it is the parent's job to tell them that and explain to them what will happen if they do it again. Once they are aware of the consequences of lying, they become accountable. They now know that it is wrong and they will be punished by Mom or Dad if they do it again. For those who argue that young kids are incapable of making informed choices, I have a niece who will be 5 in a few months. She knows that she shouldn't do "bad things", but does them anyway just to test her Mom and Dad. Mind you, I'm not saying that these kids know what sin is or that they will be held accountable in the eyes of God, I'm just trying to create an analogy here, that's all. :)

The things is, we all sin whether we are aware of it or not. However, once we are aware, God holds us accountable for that sin, and we then have a choice of whether we want to repent and make a concerted effort change our ways, or remain in our sins. I would think by now that most all homosexuals are aware that homosexuality is a sin. (and if they don't, they must be living in a cave! ;) ) I believe that God has convicted these people of their sinful ways - but they are either ignoring Him or deliberately disobeying Him. And by that, they are making a choice to remain unrepentant. If a person is having trouble with their homosexuality, they should not be in the ministry. Same goes for lying, drinking, drug abuse, etc... And if someone already in the ministry is found to be commiting these sins and is unable to correct themselves, they should step down from their position. Ministers are suposed to be role models - people that Christians can turn to and depend on to lead them in the right direction. If they cannot control their own sins, then how can they help others to control theirs? To allow an unrepentant person to remain in such an authoritative position is IMO a very dangerous thing, because it misleads their flock into believing that it is acceptable to do these things.

I hope I made some sense. I feel a fever coming on and don't feel so well right now. :sick:

04-23-02, 08:00 AM

Hopefully I'll have time to respond more fully, but I'll dash something off really quick right now.
I'm just saying I'm not convinced that all sin is an informed and deliberate choice all the time.
I didn't say "informed and deliberate". Someone who is not spiritually perceptive is not held to a lower standard. In legal matters, ignorance is not considered to be an excuse- why would it be in this case? I think the statement you made immediately preceding the one I quoted already answers your concern.

Peace, Love, and Jesus Christ,


04-23-02, 07:09 PM
To interject a point of fact for Multimom and anyone else who read her post: the Presbyterian church does not sanction ordination of practicing homosexuals. PC(USA) constitution adopted in 1997 prohibited ordinations of sexually active gays and lesbians.

04-24-02, 07:03 PM
OOOOOOppppppppssssssssss Ann, My BAD. I misstyped my post it should have read they don't advocate the ordination. I'll fix that.

thinks to herself, thats what I get for not proofreading my posts better.

04-24-02, 11:07 PM
Hey LeAnn You've seen some of my classic typos/ It's OK for your fingers to get mixed up as long as your heart does not.