I believe all of us in the PC(USA) are trying to be as faithful to God as we know how to be. But we have to admit we don’t all view God, the Bible, and human experience the same.
One of the freedoms and blessings of the PC(USA) is the denomination makes room for its leaders to exercise “freedom of conscience” captive only to scripture, as it is interpreted according to the essentials of the Reformed faith and polity expressed in our constitution.
The PC(USA) believes the Holy Spirit works within an individual’s “freedom of conscience” and we believe the discernment of these individuals is made most clear in the collective conscience of our larger bodies (sessions/presbyteries/General Assembly). Currently the General Assembly, the largest body of the denomination, is moving in a direction some believe is contrary to scripture. I think we have to be very cautious when we start thinking about dismissal because we disagree with the collective discernment of the larger body.
Our different views about God and the Bible keep each of our theologies more true. This is a view shared by Jerry Deck, a self described evangelical and past executive director of Presbyterian Global Fellowship, in an opinion column titled “Liberal Conservative or Conservative Liberal?“, published in the Presbyterian Outlook dated June 25, 2012.
“For the most part I feel this denomination (the PC(USA)) has given me that opportunity in ways that few others ever could, and for this I am incredibly grateful…the reality is that as a Christian community we are in peril if we lose one of our “ends” which hold us in tension. All too often when this tension is lost, we are left with a community that looks less like Christ and more like ourselves.”
There is no question, we are a diverse denomination but I’m staying PC(USA) precisely because our denomination includes a range of conservative and progressive voices.
Not every one of these voices is like-minded but they are centered on the gospel and rooted in the hallmarks of our Reformed Tradition:
- the sovereignty of God
- the authority of the scripture
- justification by grace through faith
- and the priesthood of all believers
We’re better together. In fact two of the three primary writers of ECO’s essential tenets are staying PC(USA). I’m staying PC(USA) and I hope you will too.
Let’s #StayPCUSA together.