Responding to the General Secretary's July 17 Statement
That didn’t happen. PSW did what many other ABC people are thinking about. They voted their official withdrawal from a denomination which had turned the meaning of the Bible on its head.
Now the General Secretary has restated his opinion with the recently released statement of July 17, 2006. In it he expresses his personal belief in traditional morality, and his responsibility as General Secretary to implement the policies of the General Board. I am glad to hear him make such statements, however, they do not stand alone. There is a wide and serious context in which his words must be interpreted.
As a Christian brother I love Roy in the Lord. I am grateful for the many good things his ministry has accomplished over the years in ABC. I worked well with Roy when he was the Executive Minister of New Jersey, and gave him a supportive review when questioned by an evangelical brother in another Region prior to his becoming General Secretary. I want to keep my personal friendship with him in good standing, but realistically I can’t view this statement as anything more than a last ditch attempt to keep the denomination from coming apart.
In November PSW will be gone. At least, 80 individual churches have left the denomination since Denver. Regions and churches around the country are reevaluating and, some reconsidering, their connections to ABC. Who knows how many more are likely to say adios.
Into this milieu comes the July 17th statement. My take is that it is too little, too late.
TOO LITTLE: There is nothing in the statement that indicates the General Secretary will make any effort to implement the General Board’s policy in a way that would call the Welcoming & Affirming churches to repentance regarding their antibiblical endorsement of homosexual behavior, or invite them to relocate if they will not repent. The statement appears to be a sop to conservatives whose departure en masse would break the back of the denomination. It’s an attempt to staunch the bleeding. Roy, does not promise to use the bully pulpit of the OGS to promote a return of ABCUSA to traditional Bible believing faith. He does not promise to support associations or regions who feel compelled to discipline churches violating the teaching of scripture. He has not promised to advocate implementation of the 1992 Policy by National Ministries. Recent job descriptions mailed out by National Ministries (7/06) do not even list a biblical worldview as a requirement for consideration. He has not promised to attempt to steer clear of promotion of unbiblical theology and practice by speakers at Biennials and other national meetings, nor has he promised to give equal time to conservative theological biblical speakers.
I can only assume that while he will continue to implement the policy as he describes in his statement, that across the denominational landscape we will simply see more of the same kind of things we’ve witnessed over the last decade.
TOO LATE: I believed when Roy came to the OGS he could have turned our denomination around (the Executive Secretary of my Region still thinks he can). A letter like the July 17th statement with some specific promises, and projected implementations spelled out could have stopped the split. But back then such a statement was not forthcoming. It appears to me he proceeded then on the usual ABC experience that the conservatives would turn the other cheek “AGAIN,” as they had done so often in the past. But this controversy over the meaning of scripture appears to have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
Some think it’s about time.
It’s now or never. Turn ABCUSA back to the teaching of scripture as authoritative for faith and practice, and the expected standard for all member churches, or wish Bible believers well as they go in a new direction leaving Valley Forge and their memories behind.