Any member of a court who has voted on a question and who disagrees with the outcome may register a dissent. The following was written in response to the Presbytery of Hamilton’s decision to support Remits “B” and “C”.
Rev. George Anderson
All things in the church start and end with Jesus Christ who is the Alpha and Omega for the church. He is our Lord and Saviour, our King and Head. He rules over His one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Hebrews says “Jesus, the same yesterday today and forever.” Jesus is unique and unchanging and His truth is unique and unchanging.
Approving the remits, and with them affirming that we hold to two parallel views of marriage, undermines the uniqueness of Jesus’ teaching on marriage (“Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Matthew 19:5). This has been held by the Presbyterian and Reformed churches since the Reformation and the broader Catholic and Orthodox churches from the first century. If there are now two equally valid views of marriage, then this opens our doctrines up to two — or three — views of Jesus’ person or work or any other important doctrine.
The remits bring into question the very nature of the church of Christ which is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. (Living Faith 7.1.2-5.) Can we now be certain of being part of the one church any longer? We can no longer stand with the catholic global church of the past, present, or future. The clear teaching of the apostles is no longer our foundation.
Rather than foster unity in Christ, this change of doctrine is producing disruption and disharmony in our churches and goes against our ordination vows where we have repeatedly vowed as ministers and elders not to follow any divisive course.
The remits, while giving freedom of conscience and action to ministers and sessions at the congregational level, will deny freedom of conscience and action to traditional presbyters to vote on conscience in discerning calls at the presbytery level and traditional presbyteries will find themselves forced to pass calls which they would regard as unacceptable.
In an attempt to provide loving inclusion, the remits have seriously misinterpreted the meaning and practice of Christ’s saving love. Jesus said “If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love” (John 15:10). This agape love which is full of both grace and truth is exemplified by Jesus when he said to the woman caught in adultery “Neither do I condemn you.” (grace). “Go and sin no more.” (truth). Thomas Merton, a RC theologian, has put it well: “Only this charity which is as strong as the Spirit of God Himself can save us from the lamentable error of pouring out on others a love that leads them into error and urges them to seek happiness where it can never be found.” (No Man is an Island, page 6)
This change in the doctrine of marriage puts at risk 30 years or more of a sound fruitful partnership with Korean, Arabic, Chinese, and African followers of Jesus who provide much needed spiritual vitality and mission vision in the PCC.
Jesus commands us with Peter to “Feed my lambs.” We will lose the biblical basis for clear teaching and guidance to our young people at a time when they most need it, as the Canadian culture descends further into gender and sexual contusion based on individual self-identity and moral relativism.
It is in Jesus and His powerful transforming love, which restores the broken image of God, that we ﬁnd what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 5:11 “You were washed, you were sanctiﬁed, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.” All of us, whatever our personal struggle, need Jesus to heal and restore us.