I thought this comments from a friend in the Presbyterian Church USA were particularly insightful and could (sadly) describe the state of affairs in many of the old-line protestant denominations. I asked him what the state of affiars were in the PCUSA and this is a portion of his response. Quite good I think. . .
Overall, things remain relatively quiet in the PCUSA, with no firestorms on the immediate horizon. Longterm? Well, I don’t think the longterm looks all that promising. We still have a latent split in the denomination, with “conservatives” who know who they hate but not what they believe (remember, they have a “relationship,” not a religion) on one side, on the other, we have the liberals, who don’t know anything.
sound familiar anyone?
One side is convinced the church is bleeding to death because we aren’t tolerant enough, the other is blithely convinced that we can pack the pews again if only we can assure people that they’ll never have to sit beside a gay man at church. And, off in the dark corners, whispering as ghosts from the past, we traditionalists sit muttering “Get a doctrine, they will come. ‘Everyone welcome’ is not a doctrine. ‘God hates fags’ is not a doctrine. If we believe in nothing, why should anyone feel invited to believe with us?”
That is perhaps the best synopsis I’ve read yet. . . why indeed, if all we do is argue over nothing. Where is the substance, where is the Gospel? We’ve been over-run by self-helpist new-agers and anti-intellectual bible-bangers–where are the traditionalists, where, my Anglican friends, is the Via Media. . . I feel, as Dr. Ephraim Radner pointed out, that the votes in MN have taken away the “space” to think, to judge, to reflect and most importantly to act as the Church. We are factionalized, we are ill informed and lack an interest in not only our denominational histories, but in even in Christianity. I’d wager one could teach a free course on Christianity and a free course on any number of other faiths, especially eastern or New Age and there would be more interest from the people in the pews for the latter than there would be for the former. Where is the teaching ministerium? Perhaps it is right that our Presbyterian Brothers and sisters have resisted the slide longer than we, since they have traditionally placed a greater emphasis on this ministry, but it is something Christendom needs to reclaim, particularly in the post-Christian, Post-Industrial, post-post west.