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"It's The End of a Denomination As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)"

Recently the Presbyterian Church (USA) has changed their stance on gay marriage and has now voted (with 76% voting for the change) to allow clergy to perform same sex marriages wherever it is legal to do so…and this apparently this is controversial. Why?

Don’t get me wrong; I am a firm believer in the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. God will not be mocked and this development is another sign of the growing apostasy within the PCUSA denomination. The key word in the previous statement is “another”.

When I first learned of the news that this vote had happened, I was surprised not by the fact that they voted in favor of gay marriages, but that everyone else was surprised. Do we not know the long history of the PCUSA’s practice of throwing out the gospel? And by long history, I mean close to a century. 100 years. To demonstrate my reasoning behind my lack surprise, let’s go back in time and see why this “news” is just another tasting of poison in an already terminally cancerous denomination.

In 1936 a man by the name of John Gresham Machen started the Orthodox Presbyterian Church due to the growing acceptance of modernism within the mainline Presbyterian church. By this time, churches were rejecting the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, His miracles, etc. Nearly every essential doctrine of the church was being rejected in favor of more social doctrines that were gaining popularity. Even before that time there was a clear rejection of the gospel. In 1922 it was the First Presbyterian Church (Manhattan), a PCUSA church, that allowed Harry Emerson Fosdick to deliver what was in essence the most liberal sermon ever preached. It was aptly titled "Shall the Fundamentalists Win? Indeed". The sermon was littered with the familiar language of liberalism. “Tolerance” was the theme of the sermon. Not the classical notion of tolerance, that of loving your neighbor despite disagreement, but of adoption. The sermon argued that a thorough and constant modernization of the faith as it moves through time. The sermon condemned the teaching of the apostles as nothing less than intolerance.

Today the denomination has been unmoved. Last year the PCUSA dropped the song "In Christ Alone" from their hymnals because the authors refused to change the lyrics from “The wrath of God was satisfied” to “the love of God was magnified”. The idea of a penal substitutionary view of the atonement an embarrassment to the church.

There are many examples of why this "latest development" isn't news. For example, in 2011 the PCUSA decided that they would allow the ordination of homosexuals and in October of that year they ordained their first gay minister, Scott Anderson. Anderson’s own comments on CNN on the ordination are telling:

"I think what's happening in the Presbyterian church is happening also in the Christian church across our nation right now," Anderson told Malveaux. "Our church is recognizing there are a variety of viewpoints on scripture. There's no longer a right viewpoint and a wrong viewpoint but several faithful viewpoints, one of which includes me in terms of being a minister in the Presbyterian church. So we're honoring a diversity of viewpoints in our church."

These are the words of a minister, a leading member of the PCUSA denomination. It is clear, as if it wasn’t back in 1922 that the PCUSA is not a church, as scripture defines it. It is a social petri dish where all social experiments are free to flourish. So, why is this surprising? Is it shocking that gospel-less church acts in a heretical way? Is it so remarkable that a worldly church behaves worldly?

It’s not that gay marriage is not an important issue. It is. But it would be more shocking, dreadful, and worrisome to see this sort of activity in gospel centered denominations such as the PCA(Presbyterian Church of America) or the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). The PCUSA is the Mt. Saint Helens of the slippery slope dilemma (or perhaps, Krakatoa, destroying everything around it). So it’s not surprising or even dreadful to see people kicking away at the dirt of an already destroyed mountain. When you abandon the fundamentals of the gospel, everything is fair game. Machen knew that, and it was just as bad in his time. What we’re seeing now from the PCUSA, are the ripple effects of an eruption that destroyed them long ago.

- Jason Bader