Bob  Burney
It was a long, slow, painful death. In the end, the patient pulled strongly on the plug and what little life was left exited the body with a tragic gasp. May the Presbyterian Church, USA rest in peace. But there will be very little peace in this pathetic death. Ratified by a majority of presbyteries one month ago and effective one month from today (July 10), the church has abandoned its denominational commitment to traditional marriage. Gone is the standard for ordination that requires pastors, “to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman …, or chastity in singleness.”

Conservatives within the denomination had narrowly, but successfully resisted similar efforts over the past 15 years, but the diminished and beleaguered traditionalists lost the 87th and 88th presbyteries in last month’s effort to change the constitution. “Progressives” had reached the needed majority and the constitution has been amended to allow for ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

For centuries, the Presbyterian Church stood on the proud heritage and legacy of men like John Knox who fearlessly and valiantly stood for the truth of scripture. Today, the modern Presbyterian Church (USA) (also “PCUSA”) bears little resemblance to its noble ancestry. While some in the movement had worked hard for and held out hope for some kind of spiritual awakening, a renewed commitment to orthodoxy, it seems that hope is now gone. Let this be clear: The issue here is not homosexuality. The core of the matter is the authority of scripture.

It was indeed a long and arduous death. The real beginning of the death spiral began with what has been called the “Auburn Affirmation” in 1924. A controversy had arisen between the forces of “fundamentalism” and “modernism.” Once again, the issue was the authority of scripture. Among other things, the infamous affirmation denied the Bible’s inerrancy. The document was quickly signed by 1,274 of the denomination’s leaders and contributed to a decline in membership along with a decline in the number of churches and influence that—with a few exceptional years and a few exceptional churches—has continued to the present. The PCUSA has showed a constant, measurable decline for at least 40 continuous years. At the current rate, the PCUSA will be extinct in another 40 years. One could make the argument that they have been “dead” for years. The recent decision by the majority of the presbyteries simply made the death official.

Bob Burney

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio.

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