The unsurprising erosion continues

It’s like watch a sink hole expand.

From AP:

Presbyterian Pastors Can Preside at Gay Marriages

DETROIT — The largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. will allow pastors to preside at gay weddings in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

The Presbyterian General Assembly voted 61 percent to 39 percent in favor of allowing ministers to decide whether to perform the ceremonies. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage.

The vote came Thursday during a meeting of the church’s top legislative body in Detroit. Later, the General Assembly will also consider whether to change the definition of Christian marriage in the church constitution.

In 2011, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners. Since then, 428 of the denomination’s more than 10,000 churches have left for other more conservative denominations or have dissolved. The church now has about 1.8 million members.

[...]

Read the rest of this cave-in over there.

Now consider that the very moves that are destroying this community (its not technically a Church), are what liberals such as the catholics at, for example, The Fishwrap think we ought to accept.

Gosh, they’ve worked so well for them, right?

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65 Responses to The unsurprising erosion continues

  1. acardnal says:

    “voted . . . in favor of allowing ministers to decide whether to perform the ceremonies. “

    Sooo. . . if it’s true for you (the individual minister) then it’s true, I guess.

    “We are living in a dictatorship of relativism.” – Pope Benedict XVI

  2. anilwang says:

    No surprise. It’s inherent flaw in Calvinism. If you’re predestined to heaven or hell, it really doesn’t matter how you behave. So while Presbyterians tend to have an excellent scholarly tradition, and some denominations of Presbyterianism can be extremely orthodox, that orthodoxy is built on human will, not Grace. As such, the liberals of one generation become the conservatives in the next and it’s possible to trace the introduction (and repudiation) of doctrines from the time of the reformation on this generational cycle. Most Presbyterians would be shocked to realize how different Calvinism was at the time of the Reformation and now.

    Unfortunately the counterpart to Calvinism, Arminianism has faired worse. Salvation is about “holiness” and “holiness” is about “being nice” and “being a caring citizen”. So if any issue can be portrayed in terms of “compassion”, “being fair”, or “not being a meanie” it readily gets supports. Scholarship doesn’t much matter, unless it supports “compassion”, “being fair”, or “not being a meanie”. As such Arminian denominations have been quicker to slide than even Calvinist denominations.

    Unfortunately this Arminian Flue has infected the Church to such an extent that if the Church weren’t protected by the Holy Spirit, I’d despair.

  3. Priam1184 says:

    Lol this is what happens when you get to vote on Church teaching. Still there is some good news: I was surprised to hear that there are any actual Presbyterians left. But then again, get a good look at them while you can because if this is the direction they’re going down then they shan’t be around too much longer…

  4. rbbadger says:

    Actually, I think the question of conditional baptism ought to be revisited, especially in light of the alternative names for the Trinity, especially gender-free names for the Persons of the Trinity, which have begun to be used for baptisms in some Protestant ecclesial communities. Baptising people in the name of the Creator, the Reedemer and the Sanctifier is invalid.

    Some of these groups seem to be more Unitarian Universalist than Christian.

  5. JayDeee says:

    This makes me sad, as it is the church I grew up in. But I could see Protestant denominations shedding bits of the truth for a lot of years, and I finally came home to the Catholic Church two years ago. I’m so glad I did. I just feel badly for the old-line rock-ribbed Presbyterians in the pews who I guess have had their heads in the sand, and now might not have the courage to leave. Conversion is very hard. Of course, worth it! But very, very hard. Pray for people to have the courage to consider Catholicism.

  6. msokeefe says:

    If we do not keep our eyes on our prelates, this will be attempted in the Catholic Church. It is already creeping in. NYC is loaded with homosexual parishes. Go internet surfing on parish web sites. You will find the following homosexual keywords “Welcoming, diverse, Catholic Community, inclusive, etc. Ecumenism also lends support to these sects. How can you tell Catholics that homosexuals must remain chaste in order to receive communion? Protestant sects do not say that, the Catholic Church purports that we are all Christians with the same standing.

  7. JSII says:

    At what point do these Ecclesial communities become just communities? Is this type of thinking still considered Christian?

  8. Nearly all the Protestant communities will do the same. Those who resist will see membership and money flee, which will cause even more pressure to buckle; ministers who refuse will be replaced. The ” conservative ” stance will be silence about the issue.

    And don’t think the Catholic Church will be spared. We will lose much, because of exodus of people and money. And there will be priests and deacons who defy the Church, to be “prophetic.”

    Buckle your seat belts.

  9. Bob B. says:

    How can the Church honestly expect to bring in the Protestant churches when they do this? And I agree that there seems to many prelates who seem to favor SSM without overtly saying so. It seems that the Church and popes of old were right -extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

  10. Macgawd says:

    Fr Martin Fox writes, “Nearly all the Protestant communities will do the same. Those who resist will see membership and money flee, which will cause even more pressure to buckle; ministers who refuse will be replaced. The ” conservative ” stance will be silence about the issue.”

    But it seems to me, and the original article supports this, that those Protestant communities that embrace gay marriage and other so-called ‘Progressive’ doctrines are the ones that have seen their memberships and money flee–not the conservative ones. I have no doubt that persecution is coming to the Church, but I don’t believe that the the concept of gay marriage is nearly as accepted as the gay lobby and their media handlers would like us to believe.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Following the link, I get a (largely) different article than the one quoted. Evidently because where this says, “Later, the General Assembly will also consider whether to change the definition of Christian marriage in the church constitution”, that vote – and change – have now also taken place. The new article/version quotes from a response which is probably worth quoting in full:

    “The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved both an Authoritative Interpretation of the Constitution and an amendment to redefine marriage. In the name of 1.8 million Presbyterians nationwide, the General Assembly has committed an express repudiation of the Bible, the mutually agreed upon Confessions of the PCUSA, thousands of years of faithfulness to God’s clear commands and the denominational ordination vows of each concurring commissioner. This is an abomination.

    “The Presbyterian Lay Committee mourns these actions and calls on all Presbyterians to resist and protest them. You should tell your pastor and the members of your session that you disapprove of these actions. You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions.

    “God will not be mocked and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God. The Presbyterian Lay Committee will continue to call for repentance and reform: repentance of those who have clearly erred at this General Assembly and reform of the PCUSA according to the Word of God.”

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Reading “community (its not technically a Church)”, I realize how little I know of the background/history of this terminology so characteristic of Lumen gentium 15.

    Any recommended (online) reading, here?

  13. AMTFisher says:

    It reminded me a bit of something I’ve read from the philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville:
    “At the present time, more than in any preceding one, Roman Catholics are seen to lapse into infidelity, and Protestants to be converted to Roman Catholicism. If the Roman Catholic faith be considered within the pale of the church, it would seem to be losing ground; without that pale, to be gaining it. Nor is this circumstance difficult of explanation. The men of our days are naturally disposed to believe; but, as soon as they have any religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent propensity which urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and the practices of the Romish Church astonish them; but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them…One of the most ordinary weaknesses of the human intellect is to seek to reconcile contrary principles, and to purchase peace at the expense of logic. Thus there have ever been, and will ever be, men who, after having submitted some portion of their religious belief to the principle of authority, will seek to exempt several other parts of their faith from its influence, and to keep their minds floating at random between liberty and obedience. But I am inclined to believe that the number of these thinkers will be less in democratic than in other ages; and that our posterity will tend more and more to a single division into two parts – some relinquishing Christianity entirely, and others returning to the bosom of the Church of Rome.” (Democracy in America, II.1.VI)
    He’s not always good to listen to/read, but I think he may be on to something. It seems to be that many (even most) of the Protestant Ecclesial communities have been slowly watering down what they believe, coming closer to a point where they may abandon Christianity all together (being forced from within and without). There are those “catholics” who wish the Church to do the same (abandon the basic principles of the faith), but, perhaps we may hope that the Church as a whole will survive, will stay on the Barque of Peter. We can fight for our faith, man our positions; not abandon ship when we hear the voices on board the ship (the “catholics”) and those outside of it (the world) call for us to leave it. And if we stay the course, stay on the ship through the storm, then perhaps those floating on the wreckage of the 1517 wreck may swim over to the ship.

    My metaphors waxed a little crazy…but the point is there: perhaps all the craziness happening in the US (and the world) today could serve to unite the orthodox followers of Christ under the banner of his Church.

  14. Gratias says:

    Bye-bye Presbyterians.

  15. Alice says:

    rbbadger,
    Actually, the USCCB and several of the Reformed communions (including the PCUSA) signed a joint declaration in 2010 saying that in order for Baptism to be recognized by all the communions signing the document, it must be done “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” using flowing water. When I first read about it at the time, my thought was “Oh brother, another joint declaration,” but when I read a bit more, I found myself thinking, “Maybe we just reminded some people that changing the words of the Baptism formula has ECUMENICAL consequences.”

    http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/reformed/baptism.cfm

    When I read that the PCUSA was voting on this today I was surprised since the local congregation with which I am most familiar is composed mostly of lesbian couples and already performs these sorts of ceremonies. They’re also hurting for money, as is evidenced by the way they try to rent out their building for everything from concerts to dance events. Or, at least, so I am told by a friend who works there.

  16. LarryW2LJ says:

    FrMartinFox,

    “Buckle your seat belts.”

    On a side note, that reminded me of the late, great Bob Murphy, radio voice of the NY Mets for so many years – “Fasten your seat belts!” was his standard cry when a game would go into extra innings.

    To comment on your other point, I believe Pope Benedict said the same thing when he foresaw a smaller Church. It’s sad to think that we have so many members who are not rooted deeply enough to withstand this onslaught of relativism. The parable of the seeds comes to mind.

  17. Magash says:

    I’ve got to disagree with the estimable Fr. Fox on this one. Religious groups that demand more of their adherents tend to be stronger, have greater support and growth than those who follow the ways of the world. It has always been thus. The rub is that standing up for principle causes churn. That is, I believe, many of the so-so members who are at a particular parish church, and are wishy-washy in their beliefs will leave. The so-call cultural or liberal “catholics” who do not really believe in Church teachings. In their place will be attracted Anglicans, Lutherans and maybe even some non-denominationals who have looked at what is happening in their old communities and if they see a Catholic Church which is being persecuted for its beliefs, but standing strong, like a “fixed peg in a firm place” they will flock to it, as people for the past 2000 years.
    He’s right that we might lose the buildings, the churches the hospitals, the universities, but these were always subservient to our purpose. But we will lose them not because we can’t support them, but because, like Henry, the government will take them away. Meanwhile our real riches, as St. Lawrence attested, will be the souls saved which will continue to increase.

  18. Doug R says:

    @AMTFisher – Quite interesting. And an example of how nothing’s ever new under the sun. A majority of the most faithful Catholics I know right now are those who have come home to the Church, and many of those who should be the *most* faithful are those who I just want to look in the eye and ask, “Why don’t you become Episcopalian?” (sorry, Sr. R.).

    @Fr. Z – I can’t say as this article surprises me much. It’s just another step down the slippery slope. I’m sorry to say that it seems to start with the ordination of women (which happened in 1956 in that denomination, I believe), which leads to acceptance of contraception, abortion, and…this. It’s all part of the blurring of gender roles.

  19. anilwang says:

    Fr Martin Fox says: “Nearly all the Protestant communities will do the same. ”

    Perhaps, but I’m surprised that the denominations that seem most able to withstand erosion are the ones that are least like the Catholic Church, namely the Baptisms and Amish. Many even either ban contraception or at least see it as a problem (see Reverend Al Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist comment on contraception http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/09/1063366/-What-are-Southern-Baptists-saying-about-birth-control-Not-God-s-will-And-much-more ) and some actively want as many children as possible (e.g. see Quiverfull).

    I’m not really sure why this is the case, but I suspect that it’s because they believe in a sort of an “Old Testament Christianity”. Without Church Tradition, they heavily rely on Old Testament Tradition (including the tendency to retreat from society and form a “Christian Economy and Mass Media”) to form their morality. As such, they might end up lasting just as Orthodox Jews have lasted despite secularism.

  20. Stephen McMullen says:

    Father Martin Fox writes, “Nearly all the Protestant communities will do the same.”
    Well, one I can guarantee that will not slip is the Baptist churches. They will stand firm on this
    in concert with the Catholic Church, as they do on abortion.

  21. I can see my prediction caused surprise, which surprises me not. Those who courteously dissent make I point I would generally agree with — that those groups that hold fast to their doctrines tend to do better. And, of course, I would be ever so happy to be wrong. But allow me to explain my reasons.

    We face a larger culture — in the U.S. at least, if not “the West” — that exalts choice and rights above all. This is not new; it is something deeply embedded in American culture. I needn’t rehash the whole abortion issue, except to say that it has been framed in terms of “choice” — and the basic push-back that has had any real traction is to talk about the denied choice/rights of the unborn. To put it another way: if there were no compelling evidence of a unique other person (in the unborn child) involved in an abortion, would we get anywhere in opposing abortion? I.e., if all we were arguing was that this choice must be restricted because of less-than-direct consequences?

    How did that work out with restricting divorce? Contraception? Pornography? Sodomy? In all these areas, laws viewed as restricting choice and “rights” have fallen, have they not?

    To put it colloquially: we do reasonably well fighting legal abortion because we can point to a baby. No one likes restricting the woman’s “choice,” but then, people also don’t like destroying a baby. That gives us the moral high ground, in all but the “hard cases.”

    But let’s look at the sodomy/marriage redefinition question. And realize that most people don’t look at this the way we do, who are convinced Christians, imbued in Natural Law. Here’s how, I think, they see it. We are asking them to be against other people — including family or friends — being happy.

    Note, I am not just talking about the marriage question; this starts back at the sodomy question. We say, as Catholics, that same-sex attraction and activity is disordered, unnatural, gravely sinful. When is the last time you have explained to someone — in everyday terms — God’s reason for deeming this to be deserving of hell? If you haven’t taken time to explain it, you may find it’s not so easy. My answer is that a pursuit of such behaviors orients someone away from the truth of God and happiness with him forever; that one whose “happiness” requires same-sex behavior cannot be happy in heaven. I think this is true; but at the present moment, few around us agree with that. They think God doesn’t care. They think God wants us to be happy (which is true, but…), and they think, it sure looks like God made homosexuals that way. So what are they supposed to do?

    After all, most heterosexual people in our culture don’t really see why they should wait till marriage to have sex — and if sex can be contracepted, why shouldn’t they? Because this, too, disorients us from heavenly happiness? See my previous answer.

    Now, this all has been true for awhile, but here’s the thing. Lots of people have been merrily fornicating for decades, knowing more or less that the Catholic Church was against it (although I doubt they heard many homilies about it); but the Church wasn’t backing laws to outlaw it, was she?

    Now we are backing laws to “outlaw” people being happy. That’s how this plays out, I think, to those who I have described. And I believe this is a large number of people, including many, many Catholics.

    Here’s something else. Once you see this issue in the terms I propose, then you are ripe for another argument: being against homosexually oriented people having their “rights” — isn’t that just like being against black people having their rights? Yes, of course it’s fallacious; but when the primary thing is “choice,” it’s an argument that many, many will buy.

    Thought experiment. If you went to Mass this Sunday, and the priest in his homily began talking about how black people are fundamentally different, and sinful, and they shouldn’t have the same rights, etc., what would you do? What would people around you, do? You wouldn’t stand for it, would you? Would you walk out in silence, or interrupt? But you wouldn’t sit still.

    I predict that a large number of people are going to see this issue in those terms. It’s already happening. The ground is shifting beneath our feet: we aren’t just wrong, we are “bigots.” And if that argument catches hold — and it will with many people — then what I just described will happen with every church, every organization, that refuses to go along with redefining marriage.

  22. Now, before you find my words too discouraging, remember: truth always asserts itself, and the truth of human identity and what a family actually is will shine out, while the problems inherent in this whole exercise in validation will likewise become clear. It may take awhile. There will be many problems along the way. But truth will prevail.

  23. Stephen McMullen:

    About the Baptists standing firm…

    Well, it depends on what counts as standing firm. The Southern Baptist Convention probably won’t allow its ministers to perform same-sex “marriages,” but the thing is, there are other Baptist conventions that may well go that route, and congregations can change affiliation, or go completely independent. I expect the SBC to shrink.

    Meanwhile, there is the question of acquiescing in the government redefining civil marriage. I can readily see the shape of the “compromise” that will be quietly adopted. The church won’t endorse or perform same-sex marriages, but neither will it raise any great protest about the new reality. Sort of like how contraception was handled, so widely, within the Catholic Church in the west for many decades (and still is, to a great extent, although the embargo is cracking up, thank God).

    We now have Catholic parishes where same-sex couples — no doubt legally “married” — are involved, and likely receiving communion. This will spread, until the bishops are, backs against the wall, forced to confront it.

    Now, the Southern Baptists may take a tougher line, but if so, I think they’ll lose members for the reasons I explained in a prior comment. On the other hand, why wouldn’t they handle this the way they handle easy divorce? No one’s really for it, but not too many questions are asked about who, in the congregation, may have gotten easy divorces we disapprove of, in theory.

  24. Magash says:

    I agree Fr. Fox. Which is why I believe that eventually we will lose all we have built as an institutional church. It will come as part of the long slide of western civilization that is coming.
    One reason the truth prevails is that ignoring it tends to cause you to make decisions that lead to bad things. Destroy the family (of severely weaken it) and the society unravels. Other cultures, which have not forsaken those Natural Law principles (even though they may not hold to the human dignity principles of Christianity) will prevail, at least in material world matters, like the political and martial spheres. These are the problems along the way you refer to. Truth will prevail, but it will be a hard road.

  25. Anilwang:

    I think you’re on to something. As you point out, some of these groups indeed do reject contraception.

    Whether they know it or not, it’s about Natural Law. I am convinced that without an embrace of Natural Law, we can’t really have anything like a coherent sexual morality. This is why I’m convinced the Church will never change or yield on this. If Natural Law is jettisoned, then the only seemingly-reasonable moral criteria is consent. Which is where our culture is.

    On the other hand, where people get that sex-necessarily-includes-procreation, the moral implications flow out effortlessly — all the teachings of the Catholic Church become coherent.

    From my experience, couples seeking marriage get this intuitively: because with rare exceptions, they want children; so when you talk about marriage-plus-family, they nod instantly when I lay out the Church’s teaching. Where I don’t always have them is at the prior question: whether they are free to choose between procreative sexuality or contraceptive sexuality.

    Now I’ll let someone else talk, sorry!

  26. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Fox,

    you make some good points. Except, of course, the last one about being sorry for your writing.

  27. Imrahil says:

    F.w.i.w., when I first thought “now that’s why the Catholic Church is against contraception” (except, I guess, for accepting it with what theologians would perhaps call submission of mind and will) was when the issue of abortion was being discussed and I heard the casual remark: “After all it’s somehow just contraception done belatedly.”

    (Though it, of course, isn’t – there’s still a wide distinction to be made between murdering a soul and satisfying one’s sexual desires without actual sex [which the thing done isn't, being deprived artificially of its characteristic]. So, to be more precise, my thought was “no, but precisely this likeness is why the Catholic Church is against contraception”.)

  28. Mike says:

    Fr Martin Fox says [a great many things concluding with] Now I’ll let someone else talk, sorry!

    Not a thing to be sorry about from where I sit. A clear articulation of the problem, its context, and the Church’s position are essential to mitigate the risk of a discussion degenerating into a shouting or sloganeering contest.

    Your tone sets an instructive example for us out here in the virtual pews who are going to be finding ourselves assailed by shouts and slogans, if not worse, with increasing frequency.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Another thought of mine:

    Not even the Puritans were as puritanical about sex than our modern time happens to be – about natural sex, that is[*]. The modern spirit is, about licence yes, but only about licence w.r.t. unnatural things – which, in fact, was also a mark of the supposedly so un-licentious Manicheanism (I had not expected that and was kind of surprised when I read that in some Church father, possibly St. Augustine, but I forgot where; anyway I did read it).

    [* The Catholic attitude towards natural violations of the 6th commandment has, in history, earned us a reputation of being licentious, ourselves. It is good that this reputation has gone, and our attitude is truly seen as what it is, viz. treating the thing as certainly sinful - but sins from weakness to be treated with gentility by people weak themselves. "Young people will have their passions", as Father Brown says, and "it is not the first marriage that comes from such a union, just go to Confession and get yourselves married", as - in a non-accurate quote - the quickly called pastor says to the titular character of Simplicius Simplicissimus.]

    In a number of respects, the real battle is, as it long was, or is again, the Catholic against the Manichee.

  30. JayDeee says:

    I wouldn’t count on the Baptists overall. While technically remaining Presbyterian, for the last 8? 10? years before I came into the Church I attended a Baptist church (and was not the only other-Protestant who had fled there, attended regularly, but never joined…) because at least the Baptists were standing strong on various moral issues. But while many do stand strong inside, you won’t hear much from the pulpit except exhortations to be nice, love Jesus, and help poor people. Which is fine, but that’s not enough to counter the culture. It got to where I would sit there in that (large) Baptist church listening to another inane sermon and think, “Who _does_ stand strong?” and I would get a picture of the Catholic Church being like the rock of Gibraltar, with lesser ideas, history, empires, etc. dashing up against it but them all ebbing away, after great storminess, while the rock remained. Now two years in, I know that’s true.

    And this wouldn’t be the first time there were great troubles coming from inside the Church – Arians, Nestorians, etc., Albigensians, Cathars, etc. I am not over-worried by the current troubles. That great long history is extremely comforting to me.

  31. Priam1184 says:

    Thanks Father Fox, it was all very illuminating. I think that you are correct and it is probably equally true that many of us who visit this site regularly are fairly well convinced that this issue of sodomite ‘marriage’ will end up causing a schism within the Catholic Church. The homosexual lobby has made such deep inroads into Church institutions that it seems unavoidable. There are so many lay people, clerics, and bishops who let their unwise opinions regarding sexual morality lead them into dissension from the magisterium on every other issue as well. It has been largely papered over by the Vatican throughout my lifetime but it is there and, like you say, Truth cannot be hidden forever. This will come to a head and there will be an open break at some point. It has to.

  32. Pnkn says:

    Fr. Fox wrote:
    “Thought experiment. If you went to Mass this Sunday, and the priest in his homily began talking about how black people are fundamentally different, and sinful, and they shouldn’t have the same rights, etc., what would you do? What would people around you, do? You wouldn’t stand for it, would you? Would you walk out in silence, or interrupt? But you wouldn’t sit still.”

    I don’t see how this is an equivalent example. It is only in one aspect of a person’s life (the physical expression of their sexuality) that homosexuals differ from heterosexuals – not a fundamental difference in their whole personhood. Secondly, heterosexuals are every bit as sinful as homosexuals when they have sex outside of marriage and without the act simultaneously being open to procreation.

    IF sinful heterosexual behaviors were clearly understood as being sinful, then homosexual acts would be seen as clearly deviant. But when Christians tolerate all manner of sinful behavior from heterosexuals who act for self pleasure, it seems natural that there would be tolerance for homosexual acts. After all, when the end is no longer conjugal love with the possibility of procreation but becomes self pleasure with no possibility of procreation, does the means really matter ?

  33. William Tighe says:

    “Well, one I can guarantee that will not slip is the Baptist churches.”

    Well, it’s already “slipped” in Britain:

    http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-cover-of-congregationalism.html

  34. Magash says:

    I agree about there being a possible break in the Church as a result of this rejection of Natural Law. After all Luther was a Priest, as was Arius. Nestorius was a Patriarch(bishop). So it is not difficult to believe that there might be a break lead by dissonant priests or bishops, or religious sisters for that matter.

  35. mysticalrose says:

    @ Stephen McMullen:

    Baptist won’t hold firm, they will just splinter into ever smaller denominations. I.e.:

    Alliance of Baptists
    American Baptist Association
    American Baptist Churches
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
    Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    Baptist Bible Fellowship International
    Baptist General Conference
    Baptist Missionary Association of America
    Central Baptist Association
    Christian Unity Baptist Association
    Conservative Baptist Association of America
    Continental Baptist Churches
    Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
    Enterprise Association of Regular Baptists
    Free Will Baptist
    Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship
    Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association
    Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America
    General Association of Baptists
    General Association of General Baptists
    General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
    General Conference of the Evangelical Baptist Church, Inc.
    General Six-Principle Baptists
    Independent Baptist Church of America
    Independent Baptist Fellowship International
    Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America
    Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference of America
    Interstate & Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association
    Landmark Baptists
    Liberty Baptist Fellowship
    Macedonia Baptist World Missions
    Mainstream Baptist Network
    National Association of Free Will Baptists
    National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
    National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
    National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A.
    National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
    National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A.
    North American Baptist Conference
    Old Regular Baptist
    Indian Bottom Association of Old Regular Baptists
    Old Time Missionary Baptist
    Original Free Will Baptist Convention
    Primitive Baptists
    Primitive Baptist Universalists
    Progressive National Baptist Convention
    Reformed Baptist
    Regular Baptist
    Roger Williams Fellowship
    Separate Baptist
    Separate Baptists in Christ
    Seventh Day Baptist General Conference
    Southern Baptist Convention
    Southwide Baptist Fellowship
    Sovereign Grace Baptists
    Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists
    United American Free Will Baptist Church
    United American Free Will Baptist Conference
    United Baptists
    Unregistered Baptist Fellowship
    World Baptist Fellowship
    Worldwide Baptist New Testament Missions

  36. Mandy P. says:

    To be frank, I wouldn’t count on the Baptists- even the Southern Baptists- to hold fast against the secular tide. Prior to my own conversion to Catholicism I attended Southern Baptist congregations. The older generation does indeed hold fast to traditional morality, but the newer generation is eaten up with relativism. I personally know several younger SBC pastors who are steering their congregations towards more of an acceptance of the world and current popular morality. They’re also very taken with the idea of no one really going to hell, which is floating around amongst some popular Protestant writers recently.

    Obviously that’s anecdotal, but I personally suspect it’s going to be the trend over the next decade or so amongst that group.

  37. Uxixu says:

    I think it will be a mix of Rev Fr Fox’s opinion and that of Magash. There will be less hostility and passive-aggressive persecution of those that embrace this apostasy while in the long term those sects will be decimated by relativism.

    Those that remain orthodox and adhere to the teaching and precepts of Holy Mother Church will face increasing pressure and ultimately persecution. That some clergy will embrace this in heretical and schismatic defiance is almost certain… it only remains to ponder which bishops will partake, as ultimately every major heresy had episcopal adherents and how deep we’ll go. I expect the deviants will overplay their hand and lead to a backlash eventually.

  38. Pnkn:

    The reason it’s an “equivalent example” isn’t because these two things are equivalent — they certainly are not! I agree with you! But, my friend, you’re totally missing my point.

    My point is, a growing number of people around us do, indeed, make these equivalent, for reasons (however poor) that are increasingly convincing to them.

    That’s why I call it a “thought experiment.” You don’t have to accept my premise — I may prove wrong — but suppose I am not? Suppose I’m correct that lots of people do indeed see these as equivalent…then what?

    I’m not Bob Jones (the American Protestant preacher who advocated race-separation); neither are you (I assume). But what happens to us if folks around us, decide we are?

  39. robtbrown says:

    Pukn says,

    I don’t see how this is an equivalent example. It is only in one aspect of a person’s life (the physical expression of their sexuality) that homosexuals differ from heterosexuals – not a fundamental difference in their whole personhood. Secondly, heterosexuals are every bit as sinful as homosexuals when they have sex outside of marriage and without the act simultaneously being open to procreation.

    1. This has been dealt with before. Homosexual acts are unnatural–acts against nature. They are acts that are sinful in genus–thus can never be virtuous. On the other hand, adultery and fornication are both natural acts. Their sinfulness is in their species. They are natural acts happening between two unmarried people (which makes them sinful).

    2. I don’t know of anyone who thinks that sexuality does not involve the whole person. By definition, homosexuality involves more than just physical expression. If someone is inclined to acts that are intrinsically disordered, then interior disorder must be inferred.

  40. anilwang says:

    Fr Martin Fox says: “As you point out, some of these groups indeed do reject contraception. Whether they know it or not, it’s about Natural Law.”

    I think you’re on to something. As I stated, those groups tend to have an “Old Testament Christianity” that gets its morality from the Old Testament. But since Old Testament morality is based on Natural law, they’re unknowingly following Natural Law. The Old Testament Biblical case against contraception is overwhelming (see these Protestant
    http://www.armyofgod.com/contraception2.html , http://www.reformedpresbytery.org/books/birthcon/birthcontrol.pdf ) and only sophistry can mute it. Which Baptists/Amish tend to cringe at sophistry since they tend to be suspicious of scholarship, and they also tend to isolate themselves in their own mass media culture, they will be able to hold out longer than others. Incidently, I wounder if EWTN and Catholic media would have existed if the Baptists didn’t have such a strong mass media culture.

    BTW, you’re view that only the Catholic Church will be able to survive secularism was shared by Fulton Sheen (commenting on the 1930 Lambeth Conference decision to allow contraception). So you’re in good company.

    I think they key determiner of whether you are right or whether people who disagree with you are right is how long will it take for society to come to its senses. Christianity that’s a mere social group isn’t appealing and will always lose out to mass media which can have more inspirational speakers, better music, and more fun things to do on a Sunday. And if Christianity is persecuted, these fair-weather Christians will be the first to renounce it and join in the persecution.

    But hardened Christianity has staying power (even if only by human will not God’s Grace), How long can these holdouts stay? I don’t know, but as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in “Faith and the Future”, secularism is hollow and people will eventually discover the few Christians who still hold on to what counts, because what counts comes only from and through God. If the Baptists/Amish are able to hold out that long, they’ll survive. If not, only the Catholic Church will remain.

  41. Amidst all this gloom, I see some bright spots — not that I’m a prophet (but who knows, I could be!):

    > The great divide that I foresee coming will tend to leave the Catholic Church made up, far more, of “intentional disciples” (to use a catchphrase): and the sorts who will tend to drift off will be the sorts the “progressives” desperately need to stay.

    > It may be that the liturgy wars will be a quaint memory. Those who tend to be narcissistic about the liturgy are, my gut tells me, will either go, or be converted.

    > The ecumenism-from-below will continue and likely accelerate. I expect a lot of conversion, if not to the entirety of the Catholic Faith, then to the eternal wisdom of Natural Law.

    > Contraception and other sorts of deliberate sterility will lose ground among Christians, although it will also mean fewer Christians, sadly. Again, the “how dare the Church tell me” crowd isn’t likely to stay when it becomes so deeply embarrassing to them; again, they’ll either go, or be converted. If you look, you’ll see that the secular world is begrudgingly coming around on the population-growth issue. You’ll read it in the financial pages, how much the “birth dearth” is a problem. On the epistemological front, we’ve won, overwhelmingly. That’s not all, but it’s something.

    I’m not seeing all sunshine and roses, but there’s more ground for hope than we may realize.

  42. FWIW…if anyone notices I don’t talk about the Orthodox in all this, it is not because I don’t think they matter, or that they won’t make their contribution. I love the Orthodox and have high confidence in them. It’s just that it’s always risky talking about the Orthodox, when you’re not Orthodox. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t sweat it; but if you’ve spent any time on “dialogue” with the Orthodox, I bet you know exactly what I mean.

    So as a practical matter, I talk about the Catholic Church — my own — and the Protestants, which the Orthodox (here I go!) will frequently, more or less, say are our problem.

  43. robtbrown says:

    should be: Pnkn not Pukn

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  45. Andrew D says:

    What the media won’t report will be the large amount of presbyterians that will get fed up and leave that denomination for the Catholic Church. I left the episcopal church for a reason myself and I wasn’t the only one.

  46. Kathleen10 says:

    Gee I’m glad I didn’t miss this thread! Interesting comments all around, really. Fr. Martin Fox, thank you so much. You really gave me (us) something to think about, particularly about Natural Law. Priests are on the front line of making these arguments at least sometimes, and you’re right as rain, explaining the why is very, very hard. One better have something to pull out of the holster, or, it can deteriorate or become incoherent real fast.
    I think the Southern Baptists will hold out awhile like some of the Catholic Church. I hate to say this, but I too think this is a potential reason for schism. To many, it’s a deal-breaker I bet. I can’t speak for the activists, but it’s non-negotiable for me, like pedophilia is. I’m not accepting that either, and am completely sure that will also have it’s public proponents, as soon as the dust settles from same-sex marriage and full on embracing of homosexuality in all spheres. The rocks will lift and out they will come expecting tolerance and rights.
    Generally I think it’s true that one would have to be pretty informed, really paying attention to matters of faith such as Natural Law in order to withstand the tide. This is really interesting, making us think about the rationale for the argument. Lately I’ve been thinking about the why’s of democracy and the Republic in the face of a lawless government, and hearing that the breakdown we are seeing is kind of inevitable because it ends up being mob rule. It is worth considering in a similar way about why we believe homosexuality is different, disordered or unnatural, not just sinful, but also that. This is thought-provoking. I may know it intuitively but I’m positive I can’t verbally defend it well. We need that even if for ourselves.
    If the Amish end up accepting homosexuality, I think the world will end five minutes after. They would hold out longer than anybody. If I see a gay Amish couple I will run to my window to see the flying pigs.
    It’s hard to imagine how the world can get much worse than it is now.

  47. Doug R says:

    A college friend of mine, who is now a Presbyterian minister, posted to her Facebook page today that this is “…the movement of the Holy Spirit….” and goes on to say (referring to people who disagree with this decision), “May we trust in God and not in our own rightness.”

    I think that that ship has sailed, in the case of this decision.

  48. aviva meriam says:

    A friend of mine who is also a Presbyterian minister posted to his FB page that this decision prevents them for FORCING same sex couples to live outside the bounds of matrimony in defiance of scripture.

    They really do believe in their reasoning.
    It’s just sad.

  49. VexillaRegis says:

    A friend of *mine* , who is also a MDiv (Theol. cand.) AND a homosexual, said, when same sex marriage became legalised here, that neither he, nor his friends with the same inclination, understand the idea of it at all. ” The fine thing with being gay, he said, is that you *can’t* marry – you just do what ever you like and don’t have to worry about any responsibilities that come with marriage.” He also pointed out, that same sex relationships are inherently psycholigically unstable, and not a good place for children.

    He’s now a practicing Catholic. :-)

  50. Missionaryorganist says:

    My wife and I grew up in the PCUSA.(We were received into the Catholic Church this past Easter.) From the time we were in high school the homosexual agenda has been slowly advancing. Every two years they would vote on the same liberal agenda, if it did not pass there would be a committee to study it until the next General Assembly. It would be brought up the next time and the vote would inch closer and closer until it passed. I was always amazed and how many pastors with Mdiv and DDiv degrees who all studied the Bible and could read it in the original languages could not make a clear interpretation of scripture.

    A few years ago, our childhood church left the PCUSA, but could not join the more conservative PCA because we had a woman pastor on staff. They eventually joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church(EPC) which would accept their woman pastor, but the denomination will not ordain new women to the ministry.

  51. robtbrown says:

    Missionary Organist says,

    It would be brought up the next time and the vote would inch closer and closer until it passed

    That is the MO of almost all bond issues. If they fail, they are brought up at a future election, often with minor adjustments to make them less distasteful to the electorate.

    I was always amazed and how many pastors with Mdiv and DDiv degrees who all studied the Bible and could read it in the original languages could not make a clear interpretation of scripture.

    It’s not really surprising. Scripture is seldom understood by reading (or translating) a specific text. It must be read in light of the whole–there is no text without context.

  52. acardnal says:

    Scott Hahn (a former Presbyterian minister) once remarked at a conference that Presbyterians were also known as the “split p’s” because of all the denominations they have.

  53. StJude says:

    Can someone point me to where God tells His people ‘if you dont like anything I said just vote on it and change it to whatever you want”..
    I missed that part.

  54. Priam1184 says:

    @robtbrown My thoughts exactly! It really is amazing how many Scripture scholars, leaving aside those who deliberately try to obfuscate and confuse, seem to have such little knowledge of their subject. And you are 1000% correct: Scripture must be taken as whole or it is meaningless. And once one understands that view and the view that the Fathers had that the Scriptures are Christ, then everything starts to make a whole lot more sense.

  55. robtbrown says:

    Priam1184,

    It’s not a matter of it being meaningless, but rather of using just one meaning that jibes with the reader’s opinion but not necessarily with the entire text. The importance of the Fathers and Medieval Doctors is that they had read and were familiar with the whole.

  56. jhayes says:

    Alice wrote “Actually, the USCCB and several of the Reformed communions (including the PCUSA) signed a joint declaration in 2010 saying that in order for Baptism to be recognized by all the communions signing the document, it must be done “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”

    the wording in the statement is actually:

    “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

    HERE

    Curiously, I remembered it as you did and when I heard a Church of England priest say the longer version at a baptism in Durham (UK) cathedral a couple of weeks ago I wondered if the baptism would be recognized by the Catholic Church. Turns out that he had it right.

  57. jhayes says:

    St. Jude wrote “Can someone point me to where God tells His people ‘if you dont like anything I said just vote on it and change it to whatever you want”.

    A couple of weeks ago, the International Theological Commission released a statement on “Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church”

    80. There are occasions, however, when the reception of magisterial teaching by the faithful meets with difficulty and resistance, and appropriate action on both sides is required in such situations. The faithful must reflect on the teaching that has been given, making every effort to understand and accept it. Resistance, as a matter of principle, to the teaching of the magisterium is incompatible with the authentic sensus fidei. The magisterium must likewise reflect on the teaching that has been given and consider whether it needs clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message. These mutual efforts in times of difficulty themselves express the communion that is essential to the life of the Church, and likewise a yearning for the grace of the Spirit who guides the Church ‘into all the truth’ (Jn 16:13).

    HERE

  58. acardnal says:

    Regarding jhayes quote above, it is not a relevant response to St Jude’s question at all.

    I would have highlighted the following:
    “Resistance, as a matter of principle, to the teaching of the magisterium is incompatible with the authentic sensus fidei.”

    If the faithful do not understand why the Church rejects homosexual “marriage” (or artificial contraception or female ordination), then perhaps the Church can do a better job of “clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message.”

    In other words, it’s not about changing doctrine but rather clearly communicating doctrine so the faithful can understand. This has been a problem for the Holy See for the last 40 years or so.

  59. jhayes says:

    Perhaps this will help. It is from the same document linked in my prior post (issued with the approval of the CDF)

    4. The importance of the sensus fidei in the life of the Church was strongly emphasised by the Second Vatican Council. Banishing the caricature of an active hierarchy and a passive laity, and in particular the notion of a strict separation between the teaching Church (Ecclesia docens) and the learning Church (Ecclesia discens), the council taught that all the baptised participate in their own proper way in the three offices of Christ as prophet, priest and king. In particular, it taught that Christ fulfills his prophetic office not only by means of the hierarchy but also via the laity.

    5. In the reception and application of the council’s teaching on this topic, however, many questions arise, especially in relation to controversies regarding various doctrinal or moral issues. What exactly is the sensus fidei and how can it be identified? What are the biblical sources for this idea and how does the sensus fidei function in the tradition of the faith? How does the sensus fidei relate to the ecclesiastical magisterium of the pope and the bishops, and to theology?[5] What are the conditions for an authentic exercise of the sensus fidei? Is the sensus fidei something different from the majority opinion of the faithful in a given time or place, and if so how does it differ from the latter? All of these questions require answers if the idea of the sensus fidei is to be understood more fully and used more confidently in the Church today.

  60. acardnal says:

    From jhayes comment above:
    Alice wrote “Actually, the USCCB and several of the Reformed communions (including the PCUSA) signed a joint declaration in 2010 saying that in order for Baptism to be recognized by all the communions signing the document, it must be done “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”

    the wording in the statement is actually:
    “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

    I disagree, jhayes. Actually, it appears Alice is correct. The USCCB pdf document dated November 2010, para five states:
    “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”

    Source: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/reformed/upload/OFFICIAL-Common-Agreement-on-Mutual-Recognition-of-Baptism-Roman-Catholic-Reformed-Church-Dialogue-2011.pdf

  61. jhayes says:

    acardnal, thanks for pointing it out. It is confusing .

    The USCCB main page on the agreement that I copied and pasted from and linked in my post says:

    The key provision in the Common Agreement is that only those baptisms which are performed “with flowing water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” will be considered valid by the signatories. Proof of baptism will be accomplished by the use of common wording on baptismal certificates for baptisms performed after the effective date of the agreement.

    That USCCB page links to “Reception Statement for the Catholic Church in the United States 16 November 2010″, which says:

    it is to be presumed that the individual has been baptized by immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his or her head (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1239, 1278), and in accord with the biblical and Trinitarian formula(e): “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” or “N is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (cf. Mt 28:19.) HERE

    But the USCCB main page also links to the document you quoted and which was signed the same day (November 16,2010), which says:

    for our baptisms to be. mutually recognized, water and the scriptural Trinitarian formula “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19-20) must be used in the baptismal rite.

    So, the two USCCB-produced documents agree with each other but neither agrees with the document signed by the USCCB with the other bodies.

    I don’t know how to resolve that. It is true that the formula in Canon Law is what the USCCB uused in its own two documents

    1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister’s words: “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Perhaps they felt they couldn’t vary from that wording and that it satisfies the requirement in the ecumenical document.

  62. acardnal says:

    I prefer “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” but that is not what the signed official document says and which the USCCB published. Just one more reason to question some of the USCCB’s activities as far as I’m concerned.

  63. jhayes says:

    After looking into this some more, i think the problem is in the drafting of the joint document, which says

    for our baptisms to be. mutually recognized, water and the scriptural Trinitarian formula “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19-20) must be used in the baptismal rite.

    In the King James Version, Matthew is translated as:

    19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

    Perhaps what they were trying to get across was only that the persons must be identified by the names used by Matthew (however translated) – not that the two “and of the”s must be omitted.

    In other words, the persons can’t be called “Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier” as some groups did (do?) but both

    “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit [or Ghost]”
    And
    “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit [or Ghost]”

    Would be accepted by all groups

  64. robtbrown says:

    Invalidity of Sacramental Form occurs when the words do not express the essence of the Sacrament.