A burgeoning "confessing church movement" is calling Presbyterians to affirm that "Jesus Christ alone is Lord of all and the way of salvation" and that the Bible is "the Church's only infallible rule of faith and life." The document also calls for sexual purity within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman.
The movement began at Summit Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, part of a regional presbytery that last year said liberals and conservatives had reached an "irreconcilable impasse." Organizers say in the first few weeks since the document's release, as many as 1,000 churches have expressed interest or support. So far, 70 churches in 24 states have passed resolutions in support of the movement. John Adams, editor of the Presbyterian Layman, a theologically conservative newspaper, says there is no link with the Confessing Movement of the United Methodist Church, another mainline denomination undergoing doctrinal disputes.
Among other issues, conservatives are upset by the defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex unions. Parker Williamson, executive director of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, described the situation as a "powder keg," and conservatives insist that the church reaffirm historic Christian doctrines—and enforce them.
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and UPI have also profiled the growing "confessing church movement."
The Confessing Church Movement site offers more links to news stories, commentary pieces, and other resources.
In an August 11, 1997, Christianity Today article, James Edwards compared today's struggles within the PCUSA to that in the German church in the 1930s —which launched the original "Confessing Church" at Barmen.
Other Christianity Today articles on tensions within the Presbyterian Church (USA) include:
Presbyterians Vote Down Ban on Same-Sex Unions | Opponents say vague wording led to defeat. (Mar. 29, 2001)
Editorial: Walking in the Truth | Winning arguments at church conventions is not enough without compassion for homosexuals. (Oct. 30, 2000)
Presbyterians Propose Ban on Same-Sex Ceremonies | Change to church constitution, which passes by only 17 votes, now goes to presbyteries. (July 5, 2000)
Presbyterians urged to allow liberals to leave over homosexual ordination | The general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), will be asked to consider a series of resolutions declaring that "irreconcilable" differences exist over the ordination of gay clergy. (Feb. 28, 2000)
Presbyterians Support Same-Sex Unions | Northeast Synod rules 8-2 in favor of continuing church's "holy union" ceremonies (Jan. 10, 2000)
Fidelity Clause Retained | Homosexual ordination under study until 2001. (Aug. 9, 1999)
Leaders Retain 'Chastity' Vow (May 18, 1998)
Assembly Favors 'Integrity' Not 'Chastity' for Leaders (Aug. 11, 1997)
Presbyterians Endorse Fidelity, Chastity for Ordained Clergy (Apr. 28, 1997)
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