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The Coming Collapse of the PC(USA)
The Aquila Report ^ | 6-22-14 | Jeff Gising

Posted on 06/22/2014 1:42:44 PM PDT by ReformationFan

In terms of giving insight into the current battles raging within the PC (USA) and the exodus of evangelical churches, the report is quite helpful. Consider the following statement: “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Among pastors, 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 41% agreed or strongly agreed. Among our clergy, there is a clearly demonstrable variance about a fundamental tenet of Christian belief that is central to the mission of the church—the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently released the findings of its “Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians 2011” (the report). More than 6,000 clergy and members of the PC (USA) were asked to participate in the study for a three-year period. The goal was to sketch a broad landscape of the denomination in demographic and theological terms. The report is available here in its entirety. In many respects the report is grim reading. In fact, it points to the coming collapse of the PC (USA)—demographic and theological realities will force the denomination to accept a new, diminished future.

The report reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the PC (USA) is old and white. 94% of the randomly selected members reported their race as “white or Caucasian,” as did the randomly selected Ruling Elders. Of clergy, 91% of pastors and 89% of specialized ministers (chaplains, professors, etc) reported their race as white. For all categories of respondent, more than 90% were born U.S. citizens. The study notes, most alarmingly, that the racial-ethnic makeup of the denomination has remained virtually unchanged in the last forty years. This discontinuity makes the future of the denomination untenable since it has not reached either immigrant communities or people of color in any meaningful way. While there are flickers of light in the 1001 New Worshipping Communities initiative, it seems to be rather too late for this to significantly offset coming losses.

The denomination also continues to age. The median age of members rose from 60 to 63 between 2008 and 2011. That means that if you were to list the ages of each of the member respondents, half of them would be older than 63 and half younger. The number is similar—62—for ruling elders. The report also indicates that almost 50% of church members are not employed, while only 7% of members report being “full-time homemakers.” Could it be that almost half of our church members are retired? Perhaps the PC (USA) should be called the AARP at prayer?

Pastor median age is 55 whereas for specialized ministers it is 57. As a point of comparison, the median age of the United States (as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau) is 36.8, a significant difference. If we isolate for race and report only non-Hispanic whites, the median age is still only 42.3.

This does not bode well for the future. Over the last forty years, the make up of our nation has changed considerably. That this change is all but absent in the profile of the PC (USA) suggests that it has been unable to effectively carry out the very essence of its stated mission—bearing witness to the kingdom of God in there here and now—which includes both ethnic and age diversity under the gospel.

What does the report show us about the devotional practices of members and clergy of the PC (USA)? 80% of pastors reported praying privately “daily/almost daily.” For members the number was less, 56%. It is, of course, difficult to discover a cause for this lack of attention to prayer. I’m sure there are numerous reasons, but it is alarming to think that one of the chief means of grace is so absent in the life of church members and even clergy.

The church is also not attending well to Scripture. Only 39% of members report reading the Bible weekly. For ruling elders the number is higher—49%. This is a serious problem. Where professed Christians are failing in the practice of prayer and of reading the Scripture, we can be sure that a sense of “cheap grace” will also be present. Scripture and prayer—both individually and corporately—shape us to follow Christ. Where they are absent, or unattended to, other voices and influences will exert power to form us.

This reality may contribute to the fact that 46% of members agree with the statement, “An individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church.” At play here is an autonomous individualism that cheapens the value of community in the formation of Christians. It’s promising, however, that 76% of pastors disagreed with this statement although that number really ought to be higher.

In terms of giving insight into the current battles raging within the PC (USA) and the exodus of evangelical churches, the report is quite helpful. Consider the following statement: “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” Among pastors, 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 41% agreed or strongly agreed. Among our clergy, there is a clearly demonstrable variance about a fundamental tenet of Christian belief that is central to the mission of the church—the proclamation of the Gospel.

Again, in terms of theological self-identification the report helpfully shows that pastors are split on how they identify themselves. 33% report that they are “very conservative or conservative” theologically. 33% report that they are moderate. 34% report that they are “very liberal or liberal.” That clergy leaders of the church express such fundamental disagreement suggests that the future of the PC (USA) as a single denomination is untenable. These beliefs are irreconcilable, which suggests that the best way forward is amicable separation or perhaps some degree of negotiated toleration of evangelical belief and practice in certain PC (USA) congregations.

Such divisions often come to light while discussing the nature of marriage and the increased support for same sex marriage in parts of the country. Incidentally, the PC (USA) is smallest in states that have approved same sex marriage. It is largest in the south, where states have repeatedly defended traditional marriage. Interestingly, church members are less enthusiastic about the potential of same sex marriages in the church. Respondents were asked whether they favored the PC (USA) permitting pastors to officiate at such services where provided for by state law. Only 30% of members and 33% of ruling elders favored this. Only 44% of pastors favored it, and 56% of specialized ministers favored it.

The narrative around the church’s discussions of same sex marriage has painted it as something supported by most and almost inevitable. This contention is demonstrably false. More likely is a mixture of ambivalence, ambiguity, and uncertainty in most that—when mixed with a healthy dose of culture’s laissez-fare mentality—produces the absence of any firm conviction or resolve to doctrinal purity.

God alone knows the future. Yet, in looking at the numbers there is much that ought to concern us about the future of the PC (USA). It is hard to imagine a future that does not include a significant diminishing of the cultural influence of the denomination. This influence has steadily been diminishing over the last forty years.

What is different about the future as forecasted by extrapolating the data in the study is that it is no long clear that the denomination can exist in any form resembling the PC (USA) we have known till now. In fact, it is likely that tomorrow’s PC (USA) will be a fraction of its present size. It’s financial resources will be stretched the breaking point. Young clergy will suffer as the Board of Pensions is forced to materially alter the terms of their retirement and insurance packages. As older clergy retire it cannot be taken for granted that paid clergy will fill those vacant pulpits. Yet, the denomination seems to be incapable of taking the drastic steps required to alter this possible future. In the end, this is a failure both of theological integrity and of organizational leadership.


TOPICS: Current Events; Mainline Protestant; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: calvinism; collapse; fruitsofcalvin; homosexualagenda; lesbyterian; paganchurchusa; pcusa; presbyterian; reformation; reformed; religiousleft; schism
Yet the liberals will keep arguing that it needs to get even more liberal.
1 posted on 06/22/2014 1:42:44 PM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: ReformationFan

And to slightly-hijack the thread....

~~~~Yet the liberals will keep arguing that it needs to get even more liberal.~~~

The Coming Collapse of the (USA).

For the same reasons.


2 posted on 06/22/2014 1:45:48 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: ReformationFan
This is a supposedly Protestant denomination. And 45% of pastors disagree that, “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved?” That's pretty outrageous.

We need to remember:


3 posted on 06/22/2014 1:51:48 PM PDT by upchuck (Everyday, Joe Wilson becomes more correct!)
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To: ReformationFan

PCUSA became CPUSA


4 posted on 06/22/2014 1:51:52 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: ReformationFan
This is the most important sentence:

Only 30% of members and 33% of ruling elders favored this. Only 44% of pastors favored it, and 56% of specialized ministers favored it."

5 posted on 06/22/2014 1:53:33 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: upchuck

~~~disagree that, “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved?”~~~

And they’re not the only ones who have said such things recently ....


6 posted on 06/22/2014 1:53:40 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: ReformationFan
Yet, the denomination seems to be incapable of taking the drastic steps required to alter this possible future. In the end, this is a failure both of theological integrity and of organizational leadership.

Please refer to my reply #3.

7 posted on 06/22/2014 1:54:23 PM PDT by upchuck (Everyday, Joe Wilson becomes more correct!)
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To: Viennacon

Exactly!


8 posted on 06/22/2014 1:56:02 PM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: ReformationFan

The church in question is merely reflecting the ongoing collapse in Western Civilization; i.e. childlessness leading to failure to replenish, failure to nourish exclusiveness with its feelings of we are the bright ones, the glorious ones; accepting and embracing Sodomy which God has declared an abomination; trying to be “Relevant,” etc. etc.


9 posted on 06/22/2014 1:58:09 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: ReformationFan
I just got home from church, (member of PSUSA) At the social time after church I had a chance to talk to our minister. He said; 'When I became a minister he had to Pledge he would uphold the Gospel according to God. I will not change my pledge no matter what the GA dictates. There will be no changes while I am here. Our Iranian minister gave the service which was 'Blessed is the Peacemaker', as thousands of Christians are prosecuted today. I felt rather embarrassed for the PHUSA since I know what Iranians feel about homosexuality and same sex marriage which he gave reference to in his sermon. He said we live in the New Age of Babylon. (can't understand what he met by that.)
10 posted on 06/22/2014 2:02:42 PM PDT by Vinylly (?%)
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To: F15Eagle

Olsteen said it.


11 posted on 06/22/2014 2:08:06 PM PDT by VerySadAmerican (Liberals were raised by women or wimps.)
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To: VerySadAmerican

And more...


12 posted on 06/22/2014 2:09:23 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: Vinylly
Westminster Confessions (Reformed) I think that John Knox might be upset.
| Previous | Next | Contents |

Chapter XXIV

Of Marriage and Divorce

I. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.[1]

II. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife,[2] for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed;[3] and for preventing of uncleanness.[4]

III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent.[5] Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord.[6] And therefore such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.[7]

IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word.[8] Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.[9] The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred, nearer in blood then he may of his own: nor the woman of her husband's kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.[10]

V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

| Previous | Next | Contents |

Return to Historic Documents page

13 posted on 06/22/2014 2:56:10 PM PDT by Little Bill (EVICT Queen Jean)
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To: F15Eagle
True. There is a sort of virus making the rounds in protestant churches leading alleged pastors to opine that basically "God can do whatever He wants to, so if he wants to save hindus or moslems or whoever, He can."

Apparently they do not believe or trust the Word of God as delivered by Jesus Christ.

14 posted on 06/22/2014 3:30:12 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard

Well, it ain’t just in some of them....


15 posted on 06/22/2014 3:35:00 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: Little Bill

I was puzzled by the our Persian minster saying we are living in the new age of Babylon. Was he referring to the corruption of the churches, including PCUSA, the country or the killing of thousands of Christians in the middle east?


16 posted on 06/22/2014 5:02:53 PM PDT by Vinylly (?%)
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To: Vinylly

“a new age” doesn’t have a geographic context


17 posted on 06/22/2014 5:04:14 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: hinckley buzzard
True. There is a sort of virus making the rounds in protestant churches leading alleged pastors to opine that basically "God can do whatever He wants to, so if he wants to save hindus or moslems or whoever, He can." Apparently they do not believe or trust the Word of God as delivered by Jesus Christ.

one should be more than a little careful in condemning those who have no opportunity to experience the truths of Christianity.....we believe that Christianity is the true path to Heaven....there are millions who have no knowledge of that path.....God is a whole lot more merciful than to condemn them all to hell....

18 posted on 06/22/2014 7:37:01 PM PDT by terycarl
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To: F15Eagle

Yup.

There is also a VERY large denomination that says the same thing.


19 posted on 06/22/2014 7:39:07 PM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
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To: terycarl

If that’s the case Jesus really didn’t need to die on a cross, now did He?


20 posted on 06/22/2014 7:40:25 PM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
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To: hinckley buzzard
God can do whatever He wants to, so if he wants to save hindus or moslems or whoever, He can

This statement is absolutely true. God can save anyone, as long as they commit to His Son as Savior and Lord first...

21 posted on 06/22/2014 7:56:19 PM PDT by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
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To: Gamecock
God makes the rules, so if he had wanted to save people without Jesus dying on the Cross, he could have done so. He did not, however; in the economy he gave us, nobody is saved except through the merits of Christ and His death. I hope we can at least agree on that last part.

And that's as true of any Muslims or Hindus who are saved as it is of you or me. Are there any such people? We'll all find out some day, won't we? Until then, it's a pointless dispute; we are commanded to make disciples of all nations ... to argue about what kind of miracles the Boss can do when his servants are ineffective at their assigned task.

22 posted on 06/23/2014 6:01:22 AM PDT by Campion
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To: Some Fat Guy in L.A.

Any restrictions on what God can do can only come from God. If he chooses to make exceptions, what business is it of ours?


23 posted on 06/23/2014 6:03:44 AM PDT by Campion
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To: Campion
Any restrictions on what God can do can only come from God. If he chooses to make exceptions, what business is it of ours?

A. God doesn't lie. B. He said that Jesus is the only way. C. Therefore - no exceptions. He made exceptions before Jesus' birth on earth (Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Abraham) but not any more.

24 posted on 06/23/2014 6:26:41 PM PDT by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
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