frgavin on July 19th, 2012

Reformed Church in America pastor Kevin DeYoung, a solid and thoughtful evangelical, recognizes the reality that so many in the mainline churches do not want to come to grips with: the status quo on homosexuality is not sustainable. It is time to make a decision, and let the chips fall where they may. He writes at the Gospel Coalition:

There is no way, short of a miraculous and full-scale changing of hearts and minds, for North American denominations to survive the homosexuality crisis. Denominations like the PCUSA, ELCA, RCA, UMC, and Episcopal Church will continue. They won’t fold their tents and join the Southern Baptists (though wouldn’t that be interesting!). I’m not suggesting most of our old, mainline denominations will disappear. But I do not see how any of these once flourishing denominations will make it through the present crisis intact.

And the sooner denominations admit this sobering reality the better.

He describes the various options being pursued by liberals, conservatives, and moderates (or middle-of-the-roaders, or compromisers, denominational institutionalists, whatever), and concludes:

I understand that many good Christians love their denominations deeply. I love mine too. I don’t want to see the RCA crash and burn, or fall apart. I recognize that many Christians are loathe to consider any option that involves anything less than staying together no matter what. They want to hope against hope that everything will work out and there will be some way for everyone to get along. But it is no virtue of Christian hope to trust God for contradictions. He cannot make circles to simultaneously be squares. We are not losing confidence in our almighty God if we admit that many of our denominations face intractable problems. We can’t “unify” our way out of this mess or press people to stop having mutually exclusive convictions for the sake of our institutions, pensions, or pride. The fact is there is no third way, no fourth way, no tenth way out of this controversy that leaves all the pieces in the same places they are now. Groups will split. Bodies will rearrange. Parts will realign. Maybe not this year. Maybe not on your watch. But soon enough.

So my plea is for these denominations to make a definitive stand. Make it right, left, or center, but make one and make it clearly. Insist that member churches and pastors hold to this position. And then graciously open a big door for any pastor or church who cannot live in this theological space to exit with their dignity, their time, and their property. Because sometimes the best way to preserve unity is to admit that we don’t have it.

Read it all for the details. I think DeYoung is spot on: denominations need to decide, and then act in a gracious and loving fashion toward those who disagree, particularly if they decide to leave. The current reality, in which the mainlines are in the process of destroying any witness they might have left with never-ending infighting and court battles over property, can only result in their ultimate demise.

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