Richard Mouw’s Response to PCUSA Amendment 10A

Many of you may be aware that PCUSA has ratified Amendment 10A on ordination standards that will take effect July 10, 2011. This opens the door for homosexual and lesbian ordination in local PCUSA congregations. As far as I know, this is the third major American denomination in recent years to do this; the others being ELCA (Lutherans) and Episcopalians (Anglicans).

I think this is wrong. But I also think many of my fellow conservative Presbyterians argue for their position in a wrong way. Dr. Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, gave this presentation on church unity in light of the recent amendment which articulates his conservative position in a lucid and clear way; a position which I fully agree with. The danger is that many of the more conservative local congregations and individuals may find it best to simply leave a denomination that has already experienced a loss of half its membership in less than a generation. In fact, some argue that this is the only reason why the amendment which kept being introduced for vote every year by liberal members of the denomination was finally ratified. A large part of the conservative base which had voted it down previously had gradually left over the years.

Some of the mainline American denominations have been experiencing severe losses in membership this century. But I do not believe this is a sign that the American church in general is in trouble. On the contrary, I see many flourishing churches in America with a deeply evangelical commitment to the gospel and the historic faith. I believe many of the younger, vibrant churches popping up everywhere are tackling issues of social justice, environmental care, concern for the poor, racial integration, postmodern worldviews, and missions orientation from a deeply committed Christian perspective that is very attractive to a great many Christians sitting in the pews of mainline denominational churches that are dwindling for lack of faith? or attractiveness? or doctrinal consistency? or adherence to the gospel? or all of that?

What happens to the PCUSA now? As an Evangelical Christian, how do you respond? I’d like to hear from members of the denomination.

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6 comments

  1. As a PCUSA member for over twenty years I find this appalling! My local church has been debating whether to leave the denomination. I say yes we should.

  2. We used this video yesterday in our Session’s discussion on “Where do we go from here?” and found the seven points that Richard Mouw presents quite helpful. I am however puzzled by Dr. Mouw’s apparent embrace and support of monogamous same-sex commitments while at the same time does not agree with any movement toward legalizing those same commitments.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Pastor Rick. I too found Mouw’s seven points very helpful in discussing the ongoing events for PCUSA. I understand Dr. Mouw’s discussion on the point you bring up differently. I don’t think it is “embrace and support,” rather a conditional “if.” That is, to the members of PCUSA who voted for amendment 10A, “if” you support this, then at the very least demand that they abstain from lewd sexual conduct, meaning uphold them to the standards of either celibacy or monogamy.

  3. As pastors, we lack integrity when we proof-text in order to make our case.  Even if we want to make a case, it is proper to expose the opposing arguments, so that our congregations are at least well aware of the wider spectrum of the disagreements.  I think proof-texting is one way of presenting my best-case argument against the opposing side’s worse-case argument. Herneneutically and theologically, it shows are theological insecurity when we make an one-sided argument.

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