Presbyterians Know Better
Through the kindness of a Presbyterian friend and a sister in Christ there has fallen into my hands a recent copy of The Presbyterian Layman. This is a bimonthly journal dealing with the activities and views of a group calling themselves the Presbyterian Lay Committee. As a permanent feature of the paper's format there is a statement of purpose as follows: "A monthly publication of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, Inc., an organization of Presbyterian laymen dedicated to the adherence of our Church to its primary mission — the teaching and preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
It is no secret that many Protestant bodies have been undergoing tremendous stress and strain over the question of whether or not they will ultimately become nothing more than politically oriented social welfare organizations or whether they will make some effort to retain at least a vestige of their former evangelical heritage. The United Presbyterian Lay Committee has been organized by interested Presbyterian laymen to combat the prostitution of U. P. institutions and seminaries to the purposes of the social gospelers, political activists, and revolutionaries among their clergy.
Now any number of true observations could be made at this point to the effect that if the Presbyterians had not committed the first sin of presumption against the silence of the scriptures that they would not be having to fight any of the children of these transgressions now. But, the point of this little piece is not that the Presbyterians are now paying for their previous infidelity to the word of God but that some of them are on the verge of discovering the simplicity that is in Christ and returning to it!
It has not been very long ago that we were reading about a regional presbytery in Arizona that was recommending the abolition of the title Reverend among its preachers. A letter from the sister who sends me the Presbyterian Layman says that an elder in a large Presbyterian church is about to quit contributing of his means if the U.P. church does not stop some of its present practices. No doubt there are many such isolated revolts against social gospelism and unauthorized procedures going on among Presbyterians and other Protestants of the country.
One very encouraging aspect of this reaction within Protestantism is the growing reliance upon Bible authority among its participants. The idea is growing among them that they are capable of studying the word of God and hence the will of God without asking permission from a gang of clerics educated at the feet of infidels in the nation's liberal seminaries. This is a wonderful and heartening development. There are things these people are just not going to buy anymore. They are reading their Bible and they know better!
But to the point: Among the Biblical principles that these folk are rediscovering is one many of our brethren are also dealing with at present. The difference between them and some of us is that they are gratefully espousing it and some of our liberals are carelessly discarding it.
In a question and answer section of The Presbyterian Layman the following question from a disgruntled liberal and the editor's answer appear: "Question. Why do you favor individual involvement and yet oppose certain forms of institutional Church involvement'? Answer. We find no Biblical authority for the Church, as a corporate institution, to become involved in purely political, economic, or social issues...One leading minister stated it this way in his sermon: 'There is a tremendous difference between my pompously trying to speak officially for this entire congregation which is wrong, and my personal involvement AS AN INDIVIDUAL.' (The captials are his.)"
You cannot convince these people that the church and the individual are identical and that one can do anything the other can do. It is one of the sad paradoxes of recent religious history in America that while some New Testament Christians are exhausting every effort to steer the ship of Zion out into the sea of institutional denominationalism that many of the denominationalists who have finally begun to heed the sometimes brutally administered New Testament truths previously taught by the others are just now returning to safe harbor. How tragic that they should pass one another at precisely the same point travelling in opposite directions, each destined to receive shortly the blessedness or disaster so recently left by the other. Would that the two were together in spirit, united on simple inspired truth. But it can never be so as long as respect for divine authority is wanting. Presbyterians know better! (Bible reading Presbyterians, That is!)
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