RCA dialogue: year 1 of 3...
So Ann wants to know why I'm butting in to New York classis' business, in the comments on the RCA conflict post below.
Well, it's like this.
How is it that many want to remove the conscience clause from our Constitution?
That would be butting in to every classis, consistory and conscience, and judging on a pretty hot issue, much like homosexuality. How is that justified? Only by common consensus that women must be allowed to be ordained, with no objections.
So how is my intervention justified? Only by common consensus that homosexual practice is wrong, and not to be endorsed by the church. Like Jesus with the adulterous woman, we shame those who shame homosexuals, but we then turn to her and say, "Don't do this anymore."
How is my intervention justified? The same way Paul's was in 1 Corinthians 5, and on the same sort of issue:
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
Notice Paul wasn't there. He wasn't part of Corinth classis. He just heard the news, and judged the sinner on the spot, gives his reasons why, and implies that we should likewise judge, for the sake of the purity of the church.
Of course, we don't have the common consensus I spoke of earlier to carry out this judgment fully. That's my frustration and why I speak. But a fairly large majority in the RCA believes this way, I think.
I expect a Christian denomination to put fidelity to God's Word above "keeping us together" when we don't have consensus where Scripture speaks. We are simply worried about losing a large chunk of people (a vocal minority) if we take a stand. I say let them go, if they insist on making such a hubbub about such a controversial issue where the majority is against them. Let them say, "The RCA left us; we didn't leave the RCA." Fine. Just let them go. And do it by defining who we are and what we believe.
Since the states didn't take a strong stand against slavery 150 years ago, the Federal government had to.
Since the classes aren't staying true to Scripture on this matter, synod will have to use its authority to ensure such fidelity.
This is why I speak up. We can try to assert federalist governmental principles, to promote "non-intervention," to keep this leaven from being removed, and it will probably work. (I find it interesting that a polity assertion is being made - one which I completely understand and respect - to avoid a theological issue). But it does not make for the unity, purity or peace of the Church of Jesus Christ. Purity and peace reasons should be obvious. The unity argument assumes that unity derives from common commitment to conforming our lives to God's Word, not vice versa.