Friday, February 17, 2006

More Ecclesiastical Follies

It isn't just the "theological liberals" bringing disrepute to the Church. Conservatives are doing their fair share, too. For example, we have the sad and sordid affair surrounding the deposing of R. C. Sproul Jr. and the elders at St. Peter Presbyterian Church.

I haven't followed this spectacle closely, though I've always admired R. C. As a Baptist bumpkin, I can't quite follow the ins-and-outs of Presbyterian ecclesiology, but this document lays out in odious detail some real problems at St. Peter.

When looking for wisdom and clarification on the web, I quickly grasp the mouse, pound on my keyboard and visit Dave Black Online. Dave was writing about the importance of personal piety in our pastors. Christianity cannot be headless but knowledge is not enough, we must also have loving hearts and obedient feet. His words from February 17th were not directly related to the Sproul affair but are nonetheless applicable and resonate with power:

Today we hear vociferous criticism of those who express disapproval of ungodly pastors as though censure of such were unbiblical. It does not matter, however, to what extent an elder may be given honors and titles if he ignores the weightier matters of integrity, truthfulness, and honesty. “Approved of men” does not mean popularity and the endorsement of carnal Christians. It means that the supreme test of our Christianity is not our orthodoxy or what we publish in our books but the Spirit of Christ in our daily living. Schisms, then, have a surprising usefulness – they reveal the tested and approved ones. That is a great blessing to the church of Jesus Christ!


There is plenty of silliness in Colorado, too, where Focus on the Family's James Dobson has been taking heat from some Christians for his endorsement of a bill that will extend various legal protections to homosexuals. Dobson's denials notwithstanding, the legislation will expand numerous legal rights to non-married households that have always existed only between married couples. Moreover, in his public statements Dr. Dobson has indicated that he has no qualms with the State attacking property rights in the name of "fairness" and "equality under the law." "What this bill is that we have endorsed is a fairness bill with regard to need, not sexual relationships," said Dobson in a recent broadcast of the Focus on the Family radio program. Of course, that makes his position identical to virtually every other evangelical leader. Apparently, Dobson and company think that the Bible requires a man to hire a homosexual but puts no obligation on civil authorities to protect property rights.

Finally, there is the global phenom that is Rick Warren. Whether it's a quick stop at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a presidential prayer breakfast in Washington, or an entertainment industry confab in L.A., Warren is in demand. Warren recently took time out of his busy schedule to compare "fundamentalist" Christianity with Islam. "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against," said Warren. Warren thinks the church should pick up the mantle of social action. Pastor Rick wants to take us back to the 19th century. He recalls wistfully the church's role in abolishing slavery, ending child labor, and winning the right for women to vote. Swell. Now we can see where he gets daffy schemes like saving the planet from global warming. Yeah, there's lots in Scripture about the 14th and 19th amendments, not to mention the Kyoto Protocol.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Stan said...

"As a Baptist bumpkin, I can't quite follow the ins-and-outs of Presbyterian ecclesiology"

It doesn't really take a Presbyterian to understand Presbyterian government. It's really pretty straightforward. If you can understand the basics of how our civil courts function, Presbyterian trials are often real similar. The big difference are the kinds of punishments a Presbytery can impose -- the most serious of which is deposing a minister from office, which is what they did to Sproul.

Sproul was charged with a number of infractions, some of which were pretty serious. He plead "guilty." Just like in a civil court if you plead "guilty" you waive your right to a trial. His Presbytery issued a Declaratory Judgement against him and imposed a sentence of deposing him from office (defrocking).

2:18 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Stan,

I was engaged in a bit of self-deprecation. I have at least a working understanding of Presbyterian eccesliology, but I think your description was helpful. Thanks.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

If it's okay I'd like to post some links to several articles relevant to all these goings on that might be helpful to your readers:

RC Sproul Jr Defrocked
RC Sproul Jr Defrocking Documents
The Austin Family Shunned
RC Sproul Jr Tax Fraud
RC Sproul Jr and the Paedo-Communion "Controversy"
Clearing RC Sproul Jr's Name
RC Sproul Jr Speaks On Honor
Can RC Sproul Jr Be Restored?

1:04 PM  

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