Conservative Presbyterians Did Not Get the Church They Wanted.

There is a break away group from the Presbyterian Church that has been picking off congregations unhappy with the Presbyterian mother church’s (Presbyterian Church of America) decision pastors can be homosexuals.  For several months Christian sites have been anticipating a vote by the largest church yet to disassociate.  It is the 3,000 member First Presbyterian Church of Houston, TX.

Last Sunday conventional wisdom was turned on its head, a vote to leave failed.  A two third’s majority was required and the number fell short by 35 votes.

A majority of those voting certainly are mad about liberalizing the rules on homosexuality.  But, even in the Bible Belt, there were not enough votes to pull off the protest exodus.  Perhaps it is yet possible for dissenters to call for another vote.

Only about one half of the membership, 1600 out of 3,000 members, even bothered to vote.  One could conclude almost half the membership was not interested enough in the church’s debabe to even participate. From what one reads the low participation in First Presbyterian-Houston is not unusual.

The dissident group in First Presbyterian-Houston which campaigned to leave Presbyterian Church of America claimed to know what the Bible says about homosexuality.  If they really do know, the vote should have been a slam dunk.

The fact that it lost means either many people in that church a.) do not believe the Bible condemns homosexulaity or b.) don’t care if it does or does not or where the church affliliates.

The latter may be the most discouraging news conservative Christians have received.


36 Responses

  1. noblindersonme

    So the moral here is that we seek out the church that we want rather than the church we need?

    1. Moral? There is no moral. The reality is that some people seek out churches, others are born into them while many do not bother with churches at all. The ones who seek them out have various criteria for doing that. You seem to have a masochistic point of view.

    2. Henry

      Jon:“Conservative Presbyterians Did Not Get the Church They Wanted.”

      Jon, this would be better titled, “Conservative Presbyterians Could Not Keep the Church They Had.” The liberal faction within the PCUSA General Assembly revised the Book of Order.

      1. Henry 7:32 “The liberal faction within the Presbyterina Church USA revised the Book of Order”

        What you want to call the “real” Presbyterian Church also gave a big contribution to Communist Angelia Davis for her legal defense in the early 1970’s. To my mind, that was the real Presbyterian Church. The Book of Order was revised to better reflect Biblical teaching.

        1. Henry

          “Confessions” is the teaching/beliefs, “Order” is the governance which could allow/deny gay pastorage. The liberal factions within decided to bend to the will of the gay pastors in the search for “Piece”, “Unity”, and “Purity”.

  2. Paul

    Thanks for once again dealing with facts … not the blind ignorance and rage occasionally found in your blog’s comments section. You’re a good teacher, Jon … hope we’re all attentive students.

    1. Adam Heckathorn

      I also appreciate this blog. Recently You mentioned sending Books on Atheism to I believe Kenya. Although I’ve spent decades studying The Bible and have read The Koran, The Book of Mormon and other religious books I’ve read virtually nothing on atheistic thought. Perhaps You or some of Our other posters could suggest some reading material.

      1. H.P.Drifter

        If you want to really know what is going on with Atheism and Atheists that are activists, this the list of the worlds top atheists. Listed under their name and something about them personally their areas of study, what books they have written, blogs they may have, other activities. All of these are actively trying to rid the world of religion. They are all serious academics (except Woody Allen).
        Great reading Steven Pinker is one of my favorites.



      2. Adam 4:38 “Perhaps you or your other posters could suggest some reading material.”

        I don’t consider myself an authority on this but I can tell you some things I’ve read so far. I learn about new material all the time.

        I think the highest level of intellectual material is about humanism, the philsophical view that humans have the ability to seen moral truth themselves without the divine. Humanism is a atheist discipline. The American Humanist Society has several books (formerly RRF member, Brian Magee, handles the book orders in the DC office of AHS).

        The best selling recent book that makes the case for rational thinking opposing religious thinking is Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.

        The best reading a literary critque of the Bible are books by Bart Ehrman. I have several of these. His books do not advocate atheism, but read the Bible as a scholar would do so. The most recent is a theology textbook that reviews the Bible aimed at college freshman and sophmores, The Bible. Since you have spent a lot of time studying, that might be a book you would enjoy. You cannot pick up this book at Barnes & Nobel–must order it.

        On under the reported role of nonbelief in U. S. history, there is a great book by Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers; A History of American Secularism.

        Others here may have a host of suggestions.

        1. entech

          Personally I wouldn’t recommend the God Delusion, don’t think it is well researched or written, Dawkins is brilliant in his field and the television programs he has done are very good.
          Christopher diCarlo – How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass, is something I enjoyed a lot.

        2. entech

          PS. there is quite a bit on You tube where DeCarlo discusses his book and explains where he is “coming from” etc, worth looking up and watching to see if you want his book, this was my route.

        3. Adam Heckathorn

          Thanks, on the site mentioned by H.P. Susan Jacoby is in a list of the 50 Top atheists. I appreciate Her quote “Atheism, in a mature form, is not angry anarchy that lashes out at religion, but simply looking for a collective and personal moral code independent of an external god.” Awhile back I happened across a an (?) Humanist magazine at the library and perused a few issues.I probably wouldn’t have picked it up but at the time I remember a little voice in My head saying in regards to My religious faith “this doesn’t add up, hold water, this can’t be true. If I may there are some other quotes I love on that site “Religion wants you to believe blindly, while science wants you to doubt, to rely on evidence and logic. They have fundamental conflicts. I have always opposed efforts at reconciliation.” Fang Zhouzi “My object is to show that atheism is a rational position and that belief in God is not. I am quite aware that atheistic beliefs are not always based on reason. My claim is that they should be.” Michael Martin Thanks again I’m looking forward some interesting reading.

  3. Normally a post like this would have dozens of comments by now, which in and of itself says quite a bit. The number of states that are recognizing marriage equality over the past two years is a similar example.

    Noblindersonme 1:11, it’s been my observation that sin and shame based theology is rapidly falling out of popularity and those organizations are scrambling to keep and control members.

    People just aren’t buying that humans are born evil, sinful beings that must seek out a set of often arbitrary rules written thousands of years ago in hopes of gaining favor of a higher being who may then deign to let him not perish in eternal fire if he can follow those rules closely enough.

    1. Mac 1:45 “People just aren’t buying that humans are born evil, sinful beings tha must seek out a set of often arbitrary rules written thousands of years ago in hopes of gaining favor of a higher being…”

      Good review. In some ways, things move at a snail’s pace, but it does seem like they move. The ideas that 1.) there is sin and 2.) there is some invisible thingy in the sky who wrote ancient nonsense about sin are popular human thoughts. Yet, these ideas have little intellect behind them and are slowly falling in popularity, so it seems.

  4. Adam Heckathorn

    I find it astounding that anyone would argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior. To have an openly Gay bishop in a Christian organisation seems ridiculous from a Biblical standpoint. It makes as much sense as The KKK appointing Al Sharpton Or Jesse Jackson as the supreme Leader. Having said that I believe any of these developments would probably have an overall good effect on American Society.

    1. Adam 3:30 “I find it astounding that anyone would argue the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior.”

      Actually, a quite good case can be made it does not condemn homosexual behavior. I think you might get to this kind of discussion by looking up “Clobber Scriptures”, the seven to nine bits of scripture some use to clobber homosexuality.

      In essence, the doubt comes from trying to figure out if the scripture passages are referring to men attracked to men, or, heterosexual men acting out what we now call a homosexual act. Many are argue that when men committed an “abomination”, it was actually a ceremony of humiliation where one man was portrayed as the most lowly of humans, a woman, by another man pretending to have a sexual act with him. The Bible wisely criticized this humiliation.

      There is no place in the Bible where same sex attraction is discussed in a way we can be certain refers to long term homosexual relationships.

      1. Henry

        Jon:“There is no place in the Bible where same sex attraction is discussed in a way we can be certain refers to long term homosexual relationships.”

        A minority interpretation that has only erupted in the 20th and 21st century. Scholars prior didn’t seem to have that same difficulty.

      2. Adam Heckathorn

        Interesting reading on the Clobber site. I checked all the scriptures I could that are thought to talk about the issue in Greek and Hebrew interlinear works there were a few surprises for example the word for word at 1 cor 6:9″Effeminate’s or Sodomites” interesting that both words come up like that. It is apparent that these societies and their values are substantially different from modern societies today. It seems a bit of a stretch to say that the Bible does not condemn Homosexual behavior. I’d say that any form of “fornication” (sex outside of marriage) is condemned in the Bible. In either High school or Jr High I remember being taught that sexual violence was more about power over others than sex and that is what is described in the Bible in regards to the Men of Sodom.

        1. Adam 1:58 re; any form of ‘forication’ is condemned in the Bible.

          Could be. I’m just saying such things as the Saddam and Gomorrah story was obviously intended to be read as fiction. Jesus made no reference to homosexuality when he spoke of S & G. Plus, the idea that there were two entire towns where all the men were gay is absurd.

          1. Adam Heckathorn

            This leads to Lot having sex with His own Daughters more than a little disturbing. Is this what the divine intervention was for so this could take place?

          2. Henry

            A “deep man of faith” would have studied this closely and concluded it was sin, not divine intervention.

          3. Adam Heckathorn

            Angels lead them out of Sodom (Divine intervention) for what purpose drunken episodes of incest? Faith leads to looking for meaning in events like this. Faith often leads to a kind of moral blindness a moral shell game. As an Atheist I stand morally naked to the world with all My fat, wrinkles and scars exposed I can’t play this ridiculous shell game and talk about “deeper spiritual meaning”. This reminds Me of the children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes.

          4. Adam 2:48 ‘…I can’t play this ridiculous shell game and talk about ‘deeper spiritual meaning’.”

            Shell game, well said. The god knows all and controls all, but wait, there is free will. The world was designed and created down to the tiniest detail by the all powerful god and has many examples of design flaws, but wait, we cannot know the mind of god. Tragedies happen to the best of people, the worst of people are rewarded with long, prosporous and happy lives, but wait, god has some longer objective in mind we cannot understand.

            The truth is under one of the shells, we are just never able to lift the right one.

          5. Henry

            Adam:“Angels lead them out of Sodom (Divine intervention) for what purpose drunken episodes of incest?”

            The drunken episodes of incest were sin, and not the purpose of the Divine intervention. This is clear. The reference to a shell game is a distraction. However, feel free to blame God for this. Hope it works out for you.

          6. Henry

            Jon:“Tragedies happen to the best of people, the worst of people are rewarded with long, prosporous and happy lives, but wait, god has some longer objective in mind we cannot understand.”

            Jon, you are preying on the pitfalls of prosperity theology. We are actually promised suffering in this fallen world.

          7. Henry 3:38 “We are actually promised suffering in this fallen world.”

            So, “Why am I not rewarded for being a faithful believer?” Another shell is lifted and there is another vague and meaningless anwser, “You were put on earth to suffer.” Good one.

            It’s just like the “fee will”, “we can’t know the mind of God”, “God works in mysterious ways”, “God has his own plan” and all the others. You should write a book with all the shells–people make a mint doing this.

          8. Henry

            Jon, feel free to continue to keep your eye on the earthly kingdom for your reward. Good luck on that.

          9. Henry 4:40 “Jon, feel free to continue to keep your eye on the earthly kingdom for your reward. Good luck with that.”

            I appreciate that. And, for yourself, you and others enjoy lifting shells pretending there is something there when there is nothing, a god of the mind who makes promises no one yet has seen, I realize you receive something from all that. That’s all good.

            Trying to put that magical thinking into politics and public policy, that’s where some push back is needed.

          10. Henry

            Jon:“Trying to put that magical thinking into politics and public policy, that’s where some push back is needed.”

            And you will receive pushback as well. Your atheist morals and beliefs are used to advocate public policy.

            With the S&G example you talked about at length, there was escalation that had already occurred. We are sitting at a point where there is escalation at play right now. Where is the stopping point? Why not have some pushback on this escalation. If history is a measure, satisfaction will not end until they have your house surrounded by men making strange demands. If you don’t want this situation, I think we can be in the same camp on this issue.

          11. Henry 5:48 “And you will receive pushback as well.”

            I should say we will. The Christian faith has been pushing itself into our government since day one. Why would anyone believe this will stop. The push back by those who are trying to stop, and some success, is what is rather new.

  5. H.P.Drifter

    Typical activities of the Christian faith, can’t get what you want you form another church, no wonder we have 6000 Protestant denominations. Splinter groups propagating, yet another form of imagination and mental disorders. A disorder to fill every need, be sure to take your medication we would want you to flip out on us. The inflexible mind propagating yet another mutation. Under the guise of religious freedom, the mentally ill further damaging any creditable, the church didn’t have in the first place. Maybe the Pharmaceutical companies can come up with another pill so the flock feels like it is fitting into the new church’s plan.