Presbyterian Polity 201

Presbyterian polity 101 is rule by elders.

201 is living in submission to the rule of elders within a communion’s assemblies unless a member or officer appeals the rules.

So imagine if Tim Keller were as particular about the rules of the PCA and NAPARC as Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Seminary, is about the PCUSA:

On the question of who can receive the award: anybody can. Again, this is a family argument within the Reformed communions between the PCUSA and the PCA. And as a Presbyterian seminary, it’s in our bylaws, we have to uphold the polity and the procedures of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). So once the award became a matter of affirming a man who doesn’t believe women can be ordained, you know, that’s a problem for us. And that’s what the entire controversy became about. Not [about] what I wanted, which was just to have Tim Keller on campus to speak, because we have all kinds of people speaking.

We’ve had other people receive this award in the past who aren’t particularly Reformed, even. If you look at the list of previous recipients, it isn’t that we have criteria like that for the award. It’s just that this particular issue for Presbyterians against other kinds of Presbyterians — the award just became impossible to maintain, because we were, through the award, affirming Keller’s position on women’s ordination.

What do the rules of the PCA polity say about cooperating with Baptists and Pentecostals in the ministry of word and sacrament? Think The Gospel Coalition and City-to-City (partners for C2C churches are Acts 29 and Christian Reformed Church).

Not to be missed is that the Kuyper award has not exactly gone to people who battled modernism the way Kuyper did. Notice too that if you can’t tell the difference between Presbyterians and Methodists, you may have trouble with discerning modernism.

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Jason and the Callers' Worst Day

Pope Francis denies the rationale for Called to Communion:

“Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms,” Francis said. “All of us are at the service of the one Gospel!”

Although Francis has repeatedly called on Christians to invite others to the faith, he has also condemned “proselytism” on multiple occasions, by which he means coercive or aggressive missionary techniques.

The pope said that by answering the call to spread the Gospel, different Christian denominations will find a privileged setting for greater cooperation.

Christian unity, Francis said, won’t be achieved by subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions.

“To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another. In this way, we already begin to experience unity,” Francis said. . . .

“A fruitful exchange of experiences,” Francis said, “can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life.”

“To plumb the depths of the mystery of God,” said Francis on Sunday, “we need one another, we need to encounter one another, and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts.”

But John Allen thinks Francis is really singling out Pentecostal proselytism among Roman Catholics in South America. Even so, it’s the targeting of groups that seems to be behind the pope’s remarks:

Here’s something to think about: When Pope Francis blasts “proselytism,” he really may not be talking about, or to, Catholics at all.

In that regard, it’s important to remember that Francis’ primary frame of reference is as a Latin American pastor. There’s no part of the world that’s seen more organized and aggressive campaigns of proselytism in the last quarter-century or so, and for the most part Catholics have not been the architects of those efforts.

Instead, they’ve been more akin to the targets.

Arguably the most dramatic religious realignment of the late 20th century was the transition in Latin America from an almost homogeneously Catholic continent to a flourishing spiritual free market, with Evangelicals and Pentecostals posting massive gains.

Does make you wonder, though, if Francis knew about CtC would he be pleased? So the good news for us is that Jason and the Callers aren’t even on the pope’s global map. The bad news for them is that they’re out of sink with the officer who gives them the superior paradigm. Audacious. The pope doesn’t even care about them.

Word of advice to Jason and the Callers: indiscriminate Protestants prefer alliances to communion:

A high-profile alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants is set to issue a sweeping manifesto against gay marriage that calls same-sex unions “a graver threat” than divorce or cohabitation, one that will lead to a moral dystopia in America and the persecution of traditional believers.

“If the truth about marriage can be displaced by social and political pressure operating through the law, other truths can be set aside as well,” say the nearly 50 signers of the statement, which is to be published in the March edition of the conservative journal First Things.

Walker Percy on American Protestantism

The main character, Tom More, writing about his Protestant wife:

Later Ellen experienced a religious conversions. She became disaffected when the Southern and Northern Presbyterians, estranged since the Civil War, reunited after over a hundred years. It was not the reunion she objected to but the liberal theology of the Northern Presbyterians, how, according to her, were more interested in African revolutionaries than the divinity of Christ. She and others pulled out and formed the Independent Northlake Presbyterian Church.

Then she became an Episcopalian.

Then suddenly she joined a Pentecostal sect. She tells me straight out that she has had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, that where once she was lost and confused, seduced by Satan and the false pleasures of this world, she has now found true happiness with her Lord and Saviour. She has also been baptized in the Holy Spirit. She speaks in tongues.

I do not know what to make of this. I do not know that she has not found Jesus Christ and been born again. Therefore I accept that she believes she has and may in fact have been. I settle for her being back with us and apparently happy and otherwise her old tart, lusty self. She is as lusty a Pentecostal as she was a Southern Presbyterian. She likes as much as ever cooking a hearty breakfast, packing the kids off to school, and making morning love on our Sears Best bed, as we used to.

She loves the Holy Spirit, says little about Jesus.

She is herself a little holy spirit hooked up to a lusty body. In her case spirit has nothing to do with body. Each goes its own way. Even when she was a Presbyterian and I was a Catholic, I remember that she was horrified by the Eucharist: Eating the body of Christ. That’s pagan and barbaric, she said. What she meant and what horrified her was the mixing up of body and spirit, Catholic trafficking in bread, wine, oil, salt, water, body, blood, spit – things. What does the Holy Spirit need with things? Body does body things. Spirit does spirit things.

She’s happy, so I’ll settle for it. But a few things bother me. She attributes her conversion to a TV evangelist to whom she contributed most of her fortune plus a hundred dollars a week to this guy, which we cannot afford, or rather to his Gospel Outreach program for the poor of Latin America. I listened to this reverend once. He’d rather convert a Catholic Hispanic than a Bantu any day of the week. . . .

Catholics have become a remnant of a remnant. Louisiana, however, is more Christian than ever, not Catholic Christian, but Texas Christian. Even most Cajuns have been converted first by Texas oil bucks, then by Texas evangelists. The shrimp fleet, mostly born again, that is, for the third time, is no longer blessed and sprinkled by a priest.

Why don’t I like these new Christians better? They’re sober, dependable, industrious, helpful. They praise God frequently, call you brother, and punctuate ordinary conversation with exclamations like Glory! Praise God! Hallelujah!. I’ve nothing against them, but they give me the creeps. (The Thanatos Syndrome, pp. 353-45)