Some 450 years ago John Calvin of Geneva, Switzerland became the father of Reformed theology that has continued to this day. John Knox brought Calvins views to Scotland which developed into Presbyterianism, a leading form of Reformed Theology today. If Calvin and Knox were alive today, they would be shocked and dismayed with how this movement has evolved (or devolved) particularly at this time.
The latest in the downward trend in Presbyterianism occurred recently at the annual General Assembly held at the church headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Louisville. At the General Assembly, the delegates voted 317 to 208 to remove the ban against homosexual pastors. The 173 regional presbyteries must yet ratify this vote. But the vote has occurred and the General Assembly has spoken loudly that denominational pastors may be openly homosexual in orientation and practice!
How could such an event occur? How is it possible for a professing “Christian” denomination to allow such an immoral arrangement? How can a denomination permit something that Scripture refers to as “degrading passions” and “indecent acts”acts that make one “worthy of death” and worthy of “the judgment of God” (Romans 1:26-27, 32; 2:2)? How is it possible for a church to condone a perversion that nearly everyone 50 years ago understood to be immoral and a violation of the will of God?
Surely the reason is that long ago Presbyterianism discarded a belief in the inspired, authoritative, infallible Word of God. Several decades ago a national survey of clergymen discovered that only 12 percent of Presbyterian pastors could affirm the following statement: “Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God not only in matters of faith but also in historical, geographical and other secular matters.” Only 51 percent of such pastors would answer Yes to this statement: “Do you believe that the virgin birth of Jesus was a biological miracle?” A mere 16 percent of these pastors believed that “Adam and Eve were individual historic persons.”
If these Presbyterian leaders rejected the truthfulness of Scripture and many of them even rejected such a basic truth as the virgin birth of Christ, is it any wonder that they would allow such an immoral practice as homosexuality among their ranks? The Scripture plainly says that no unrepentant homosexual can enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). All who are sexually immoral (which would include homosexuals) will suffer the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:3-6) and the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). But if people do not accept the Scriptures at face value, if they do not believe the truth of God, if they do not acknowledge that the Bible is inspired of God and authoritative for their lives, then it should not be too surprising that they would allow that which God calls an abomination.
When we discard the inspired and infallible written Word of God, we open the door to all kinds of immoral and reprehensible practices. Homosexuality, pre-marital fornication, and adultery are permitted. Women pastors, egalitarian marriages, and abortion may be found acceptable. In time, will euthanasia and infanticide be condoned? Nothing is logically forbidden if the Word of the Living God is compromised and denied.
What can we learn from the shameful trend in the Presbyterian Church (USA)? We should learn that the Scriptures must be our guide and our authority for faith, thought, and behavior. We should learn that we must not simply affirm the truthfulness of the Word of God; we must also live by that Word. We must believe the Bible and obey the Bible. This is the way we express our love and respect for God, the Author of the Bible. If we do otherwise, we too may find ourselves opposed to God and His Will. We too may be guilty of something equally shameful as condoning homosexual clergy.