General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com
Thursday, March 06, 2003
I saw this over at Midwest Conservative Journal and as a Presbyterian, I have to comment on the good "pastor" and his opinion about "The Way". There are three recognized forms of Chuch government: episcopal, or rule by Bishops (Roman Catholic, Methodists, etc), Congregational where the rule is all at the congregational level (Baptists, Church of Christ, etc), and Presbyterian or rule by elders ( Dutch Reformed, Presbyterians, etc). Many congregational churches have elders but do not formally have rule above the congregational level. Presbyterian denominations, and there are several, have congregations, presbyteries, synods and general assemblies all of which have ruling authority. The bodies outside the congregation generally act as courts to decide questions of policy and to settle disputes within congregations. Depending on the denomination, the Presbytery may hold title to all property. This provides the means to exercise discipline over a congregation and its elders.
Congregations and elect the elders who rule the congregation. Elders call pastors. Presbyteries generally ordain the Pastors and exercise discipline over them. Elders in a congregation can uncall a pastor and the Presbytery can remove a Pastor for egregious offense.
Now to the good Rev. Dirk Ficca. For at least 25 years, a high percentage seminarians at one of the mainline Presbyterian denomination's seminaries have questioned the divinity of Jesus and the validity of the belief that Christianity is the only way to salvation. We lay people, not being as learned and intelligent as these good ladies and gentlemen, were left to wonder how someone could be studying to be a Pastor when they did not believe the core reason for the Church's existence. The trend toward "social significance" in the mainline denomination resulted in a major schism in the early '70s when the Presbyterian Church in America was formed as a conservative counter-balance to the movement.
Presbyterian congregations vary in their approach to social issues and even in their doctrinal views, but as a general rule, are more conservative than the Clergy and denominational staffs and management. When I say "conservative" I am not talking conservative in the political sense. My own congregation, of which I am an elder, has members and elders from across the political spectrum. We do not discuss politics in our church setting because our position is that if the Church properly teaches, and I do not mean indoctrinate, its congregants, they will be prepared to address in a Christian manner any issue that may confront them.
Unfortunately, many of the non-believing seminarians now pastor congregations. I suspect that they are generally pretty good "people" people and may even deliver well structured "little talks" on Sunday so their congregation keeps them around. The Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly do nothing about such clergy because they themselves have the same dearth of belief.
Due to the divergence between the majority of congregations and the leaders, I have been expecting another major schism in the Presbyterian Church USA of which I assume Rev. Ficca is a member. Watch the news about this Summer's General Assembly to see what social causes are on the agenda. Waiting in the background are gay ordination and statements such as that made by Ficca.
I am not a PCUSA Presbyterian, but I happened to attend services at one of their congregations the week after General Assembly a couple of years ago. The big news item from GA was the motion to ordain gays. The pastor's "little talk" subject for his congregation of older people was how they should not be upset about where their denomination was headed. He started his talk by saying that the clergy who attende the GA had agreed to go back to their congregations and ensure calm.
Well the storm is just under the surface.