The recent actions of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has made it clear that the theological chasm that has existed for the last 30 years between the conservative evangelicals and the liberal progressives is undeniable.
I believe that the commissioners voted to be faithful. But the problem is when you are faithful without knowing to whom you are faithful to, you're going to run into problems. I believe that the commissioners voted to help the church. I don't think there was a single commissioner who wanted to hurt the church. It was just that the presbyterian world has changed so much that people are no longer able to discern who we are called to be faithful to.
Many people were saying things like, "Jesus would..." "If Jesus were here today..." What was interesting is that they would say such things without any scriptural reference. Whoever this Jesus is, it certainly was not the Jesus of Scripture.
And the reality is that nothing conservative evangelicals ever say will change the progressive liberals. And nothing that the progressive liberals say or do will ever change the conservative evangelicals.
How then are we to be a church together?
It's not quite clear in my mind yet, but I think there is something to thinking about a post-denominational denomination.
Is that even possible?
I think so. And the more I think about it, the more I find it intriguing.
What do I mean by post-denominational?
We live in a world where the only ones to whom denominations matter at all are those who are already in our denominations. No one else gives a rip whether someone is Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, PC(USA), PCA, KPCA, etc. To the 2/3 majority of Americans who make up the unchurched, denominations just don't matter.
When a Catholic priest in Boston molests a boy, the 2/3 majority say, "That's why I can't trust you clergy." And if I were to protest, "But I'm not a Catholic. I am a Presbyterian." It wouldn't make one bit of difference. We all represent the "church".
When Ted Haggard has his moral failure, the 2/3 majority say, "You Christians are all hypocrites." And if you were to protest, "But I am a Presbyterian, not a non-denominational Christian," you might as well be saying, "Mumbo, jumbo, jumbo, mumbo." To the 2/3 unchurched, we are all the church.
The only ones who can articulate what the differences between the PC(USA), PCA, the KPCA, the Lutherans, the Evangelical Lutherans, the Methodists, etc. are those who are highly versed in the life of the church. They represent a tiny portion of the US population.
For the most part, what people want to know is, "Is God for real? Can I experience and encounter God at your church? Can God make a difference in my life? Can I make a difference in this world?" And if the answer is yes to these questions, people just don't care what denomination a church is.
That is the reality of the post-denominational world.
And the question I would like to pose is what would a post-denominational denomination look like?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. I will be posting my thoughts on these in the coming days. Thanks.