If American Catholics don’t like the views of the new Pope, Benedict XVI, please send him to the Presbyterian Church (or any of its mainline sister churches for that matter). Their leadership could use a dose of Christian orthodoxy. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) has seen its membership fall since 1965 from a high of over 4.2 million to 2.4 million. Is it the case that Americans are moving away from belief in God or are there other causes? Americans are religious as ever but the loss of membership in the Presbyterian Church, as well as other mainline Protestant churches, could have something to do with a determined minority of national church leaders, local pastors and members repeated attempts to ignore Scripture and force church acceptance of gay marriage and gay clergy. It could also be the PCUSA’s co-sponsorship of a women’s conference where goddess Sophia was worshiped in addition to Jesus. And with regard to Jesus, perhaps the denial of Jesus’ divinity by some of the same leaders, flying in the face of a basic tenet of the Christian faith regarding the Trinity, one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has caused more than a few members in the pews to look elsewhere for a church home.
In his book Crisis in the Church, the Plight of Theological Education, the late John Leith, professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia comments on quotes from Claremont School of Theology Professor Burton Mack, “Christianity has had a two thousand year run, and it’s over” and Claremont Professor James Robinson, “I think Jesus was an important person, one of the most important people who ever lived.” Leith says in the preface to his book:
“Honorable people can conclude that Jesus was not a Christian and that Christianity is over or they may conclude that Jesus was only an important human being. It is difficult to understand how professors or church leaders who do not believe in the authority of the Christ of the Gospels can feel comfortable making their living from the contributions of church people who do. It is even more difficult to understand why church people, in particular institutions and church bureaucrats, wish to sponsor with believers’ money those who are seeking to undermine the Christian church and faith.”
Indeed, if there are church leaders or members who don’t agree with the Presbyterian tenet that precludes practicing homosexuals from ordination as a pastor, elder or deacon, then they may find the United Church of Christ more to their liking. Should one not accept Jesus as the Son of God and the whole Doctrine of the Trinity, they need to recognize they are not Christian by definition and consider the Unitarian church. Some people may be distressed that the Catholic Church and many Protestant churches do not change to accommodate today’s relativism. Truth is truth and it does not change with the latest politically correct thinking. The religious left has every right to challenge and disagree but it has no right to force its heresies on the historical church.
Protestants may not agree with Catholics on male only, unmarried priests, birth control or the almost deification of Mary but on the basic tenets of Christianity, we’re solid. So if Benedict XVI would like to spend a couple of years in Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters of the PCUSA, teaching orthodox Christian theology and the importance of tradition and the Bible, come on over.
Warren E. Peterson