Monday, January 23, 2012

ECO Focuses on Adultery

In my previous post I neglected to explain why the Fellowship of Presbyterians wants a new denomination, or at least to leave the PCUSA. The basic reason is that these are folks who cannot abide the ordination of gay and lesbian persons to ministry in the church, and do not want recognition of “marriage” of gay and lesbian couples. (I have more to say on the role of mission and theology in this protest. To sum it up: The PCUSA is a dying and dead church because it is too liberal and says OK to gays and lesbians.)

Homosexuality is not explicitly noted in the documents of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians. By the way, this name follows the recent practice of not including the name of the traditional denomination in the title. It will be known as ECO not ECOP. Probably a good thing.

The “Essential Tenets” are found in ECO's Theological Project document. These fundamental beliefs follow the “Faith of the Church Catholic,” “Faith of the Reformation,” and “Faith of the Reformed Tradition” named in chapter 2 of the former (2009-2011) Form of Government. However, one new thing (there may be other things added or left out) is added: “Living in obedience to the Word of God.” This section lists ten ways in which “Progress in holiness is an expected response of gratitude to the grace of God.” These ten ways are based on the Ten Commandments.

Commandment 7 is the one prohibiting adultery. I have always understood this to be based on and to more broadly speak to the need for us to be faithful to one another in all our relationships. Here we read that we are to: “maintain chastity in thought and deed, being faithful within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman as established by God at the creation or embracing a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant.” Marriage as belonging to a man and a woman is traditional. Chastity and celibacy entered the Presbyterian vocabulary(!) about 15 years ago. Celibacy was stated to be the only acceptable way for persons of homosexual orientation to exist within the church. The PCUSA has now rejected this language and therefore is considered apostate to the new, post-modern traditionalists.


Pastor Jeff said...

Apostate? Really?
I certainly didn't hear any talk about apostasy at the conference. I heard a lot of talk about civility, and working with the PC(USA) wherever possible. I also heard many speakers affirm that this differentiation isn't about any one issue, it's about trajectory and core values.

It's clear that you are deeply committed to the acceptance of gay leadership in the church, and believe that those who think the Bible teaches that homosexual sex is sinful are mistaken. It's also safe to say that the passage of 10-A, permitting the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals was the spark that ignited this movement. But it would be a huge mistake to think this is all about gays - or even all about sexuality.

It's actually all about people who are tired of wasting our energy - and yours - by fighting the same battles we've been fighting for the past thirty years. It's about a different understanding of the nature of scriptural inspiration, authority, and interpretation. It's about restoring the historic understanding of the confessions, while looking forward for a new way of being Presbyterian Christians in the 21st century.

I'm sad that many of my brothers and sisters have used hateful and ungracious words with you and about you in the past. I hope we can all forgive one another for that, and have much more gracious and civil dialogue in the future.

Jitegemea said...

After reading the blog (and the previous posting) I found myself wondering if the author was even in attendance or whether perhaps the article stems from a cursory reading of the Reuters news article... It bears no resemblance to anything that actually took place...

John Shuck said...

I find myself fascinated by the doublespeak on behalf of the schismatics. They don't want gay ministers and now they can't even admit it.

Reformed Catholic said...

Schismatics ... I'm proud to be in the same company as Luther, Calvin & Knox.