Did Jesus Die for the Sins of Humanity, Or Not?

October 17, 2011

On Saturday, a teaching elder sought transfer into the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina. During his COM interview, he had declared that he did not believe that Jesus died for our sins. Upon questioning in presbytery, he revealed his belief that God could have (should have?) found some better way to save the world than by arranging the murder of his Son. He refused three times to answer the question, “Do you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins?”

Though I am sure this is not the first time a theologically questionable statement or silence has occurred in a presbytery somewhere in the United States, nevertheless, the approval of his transfer is appalling. He refused to affirm a basic understanding of our Reformed faith, to which our Confessions give ample testimony:

“Further, it behooved the Messiah and Redeemer to be true God and true man, because he was able to undergo the punishment of our transgressions and to present himself in the presence of his Father’s judgment, as in our stead, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience, . . .” [Scots Confession, VIII; Book of Confessions, 3.08].

“That our Lord Jesus offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions, that he, the clean innocent Lamb of God, was condemned in the presence of an earthly judge, that we should be absolved before the judgment seat of our God; . . . he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father which sinners had deserved” [Scots, IX; BOC, 3:09].

Q. 1.  What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
A. That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; . . . [Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1; BOC, 4.001).

Since we deserve punishment under the righteous judgment of God, and cannot make the payment ourselves, “Our Lord Jesus Christ [who is this mediator, true God and a true and perfectly righteous man]… is freely given to us for complete redemption and righteousness” ( Heidelberg, Q. 12–18, Of Man’s Redemption; BOC, 4.012–18).

“For Christ took upon himself and bore the sins of the world, and satisfied divine justice. Therefore, solely on account of Christ’s sufferings and resurrection God is propitious with respect to our sins and does not impute them to us, but imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as our own (2 Cor. 5:19ff; Rom. 4:25). . . .” (Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter XV; BOC 5.108).

“5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VIII; BOC, 6.047).

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf” (Westminster, XIII; BOC, 6:070).

“God’s reconciling act in Jesus Christ is a mystery which the Scriptures describe in various ways. It is called the sacrifice of a lamb, a shepherd’s life given for his sheep, atonement by a priest; again it is ransom of a slave, payment of debt, vicarious satisfaction of a legal penalty, and victory over the powers of evil. . . .” [Confession of 1967, Part I, Section A, Point 1; BOC 9.09]

“Jesus was crucified,/ suffering the depths of human pain / and giving his life for the sins of the world” (Brief Statement of Faith, lines 20–22; BOC, 10.2]

So what is not clear about this preponderance of evidence? The declaration that “Jesus died for our sins” is an essential of the Reformed faith, is it not? Yes, I know there are at least eight viable “theories of atonement,” the flavor of which we get in the Scots Confession; but they all point to God’s accomplishment for the benefit of humanity, atoning for our sins.

Mark Achtemeier, in his testimony before the Synod of the Pacific PJC a year ago (Parnell et al v. San Francisco Presbytery), was queried about the possibility that such a denial of basic orthodox faith might occur during an examination. He said, “We are in a position where we tell candidates ‘you can scruple Trinity, atonement, or the Incarnation’ . . .” He hoped that wouldn’t happen, but the current Authoritative Interpretation does not preclude it from happening.

So now we have a concrete example of our worst nightmare, when a presbytery fails to recognize a serious departure from the essentials of the Reformed faith. Coastal Carolina has determined that “Jesus died on the cross for our sins” is not an essential of our faith. All I can say at this point is, “Thanks for nothing. You failed to act according to your responsibilities: to ‘provide that the Word of God may be truly preached and heard’ and to ‘nurture the covenant community of disciples of Christ . . . [by] warning and bearing witness against error in doctrine and immorality in practice within its bounds’ (Book of Order, G-3.0301a,c).  This is a serious irregularity that leads only to confusion, disunity, and pastoral fraud. When the church perpetrates such a hoax, it is denying our church members that which the PCUSA promises to deliver: the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; and preservation of the truth.

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32 Responses to “Did Jesus Die for the Sins of Humanity, Or Not?”

  1. Derek Simmons Says:

    RevMary:

    You know you too saw this coming. What’s the point of remaining in the tunnel after you know that what you see is a train and not the light at the end of it?

    Yours in Him,
    Derek Simmons

  2. Spencer Lawrence Says:

    In a church in which we talk about “essential tenets” but refuse to say what they are – a position that makes no sense at all, what else can we expect?

  3. John R. Kerr Says:

    Dear Mary,

    As a member of Coastal Carolina (and one among many who resoundingly voted “no”), I agree with you. You are quite right: we failed, and the sad note is that many do not even know why or how. The candidate in question did not only deny the atonement, but also the authority of Scripture. It’s hard to stay in such a climate, but that is why I was in Minneapolis–I wanted to learn how to stand firm against the madness!

  4. P Numata Says:

    Hi Mary,

    Could you point to a source for this information? I’d like to share it with others who I presume will be equally concerned.

    Thank you,

  5. Steven Niccolls Says:

    Mary:
    Perhaps just as disappointing as the transfer approval was, (Thank you Mr. Kerr for you resounding no vote) is what was the original presbytery doing? Shouldnt they have been doing something as well?

  6. Mark Achtemeier Says:

    Mary:

    I would appreciate it if you would not take out-of-context quotes from the trial record to make it sound like I would approve this kind of thing.

    Of course candidates can and do come before Presbyteries declaring all sorts of departures from orthodox Reformed theology–no one can prevent this. But it is up to the Presbytery possessing that information to make responsible judgments! I am fully in agreement with you that the Atonement is an essential of Reformed Theology.

    • revmary Says:

      Mark, thank you for your comment. I thought I captured your sentiment by including your caveat “we would hope this wouldn’t happen…”

      But now it has, and I am VERY glad to hear that you agree the Atonement is an essential, and presumably that this one presbytery made an irresponsible judgment as a result.

      I would be interested in your ideas of what the remedy is (not necessarily in this one case, which, unless a complaint is filed, is water under the bridge), understanding that stipulating essentials is not one of them in your opinion. But truly, what can the church do to ensure that, let’s say, the atonement is honored and professed by our candidates and elders?

    • Bruce McIntosh, Council for Complainants, Parnell v. SFP Says:

      Achtemeier did not, at trial, “approve this kind of thing” (nor does Mary suggest he did), but he did predict it.  Now that he’s been proven right, I wonder if he still thinks the church should continue to avoid naming essentials, or that there should be no recourse when a presbytery fails to make a good judgment. And if he does, we have to ask him: why?

  7. Ed Says:

    Dear Reverend Mary,

    I think you have a few factual errors in your blog. There is no Presbytery of Coastal Carolinas in the PC(USA). I can only assume you are talking about the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina.

    The other error concerns your assertion that the the teaching elder was received into the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Coastal Carolina is like many presbyteries. It has given the COM commission power to receive and dismiss teaching elders.

    The person in question was received as a member at large by the COM in a meeting this summer. His stated supply contract seems to have been approved at the same time by the COM. So, at Saturday’s meeting the presbytery didn’t vote to receive or not receive the teaching elder. His reception was a fait accompli at the meeting. After 3 and 1/2 years as a member of the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina, I have never seen the decision and action of the COM questioned or overturned.

    Now as to the assertion that, “He refused three times to answer the question, “Do you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins?”, I have to disagree with that statement. I did not hear a denial of this question.

    What I heard was a disgruntled member of the COM, who didn’t like the fact that the COM approved and received this teaching elder as a member of the presbytery at a meeting several months previous, demand that the teaching elder pass the COM member’s litmus test, again. The COM member seemed to insist that the teaching elder use specific language about soteriology and atonement that fit in his litmus test. However, the teaching elder refused to use someone else’s language to talk about his own faith.

    As someone who sat next to the COM member as he questioned the teaching elder, I can say that my recollection of the events of the meeting do not match what your blog article implies. Perhaps, if you had been there yourself instead of relying on 2nd and 3rd and 4th hand information you might have gotten your facts correct.
    Regards
    ELB

    • revmary Says:

      Thank you for the correction as to the name of your presbytery, Ed. My bad.
      Regarding your eye-witness account of what took place on Saturday, I am pleased that you posted a comment and clarified that in your presbytery, even a departure from orthodox theology can be approved by the COM without the whole Presbytery getting involved. At least in San Francisco Presbytery, if a candidate or minister is departing from “an essential tenet,” this must be brought to the Presbytery’s specific attention and debated openly.
      Regarding my sources of information, of course my information is 2nd hand, but it came from another eye-witness to the events, whose take was different from yours. In your opinion, do you think the minister would have answered a similar question if the wording had come directly from the Confessions?

  8. Jake Horner Says:

    Ed,

    “Now as to the assertion that, “He refused three times to answer the question, “Do you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins?”, I have to disagree with that statement. I did not hear a denial of this question.”

    Did you hear an affirmation? The question is a simple, straight forward ‘yes or no’ question. The doctrine addressed by the question is so fundamental to the Christian faith, that I would have a hard time applying the name Christian to a person who could not answer strongly in the affirmative.

    Jake

  9. Raymond M. Tear Says:

    OK, so Mary did not have some of the details exactly right. It still seems to be the case that a teaching elder who denies the necessity of Jesus’ death for the sins of the world has been received as a member of Coastal Carolina Presbytery and is being allowed to regularly preach to one of its congregations.


  10. It would be refreshing to hear Dr. Achtemeier lend his name to a criticism of the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina’s recent decision. If The Atonement is an essential, shouldn’t we all grieve its violation?

  11. L. Lee Says:

    Mary, I acknowledge the problem that your blog uncovers (whether the details are right on or not): There are no longer essential tenants that our leaders must adhere to.

    The fact remains that now Ministers can declare a scruple to ordination questions they once had to say yes to, including the belief that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation because he died on the cross and was raised from the dead.
    Also,I witnessed Rev. Mark Achtemeier saying at North Puget Sound Presbytery that this could be the result when he spoke to the issue of agreeing and voting for the PUP report. So, Mark A. you bear the consequences as not just a voting member but as a leader who spoke to influence the church in this direction. I witnessed your willingness to allow what is happening in our denomination now by your own words then. That compromise is allowing COM
    and Presbyteries to vote against Scriptural mandates for our leaders.
    I was sad that day your spoke and I am sad reading this days report from Mary’s blog.

  12. Ed Says:

    Reverend Mary,

    Thank you for the chance to continue our conversation clarifying what happened Saturday in North Carolina. I am often in agreement with what you write so it feels a bit odd to find myself standing in a different place from you, even if only for a moment or two.

    Neither the COM nor the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina considered the teaching elder’s statement of faith to be a departure of the essentials of the reformed faith or to be unorthodox. I am not sure if it furthers this conversation to accuse this colleague in ministry of departing from the essentials of the Reformed faith without meeting him, talking with him, or reading his theological statements. I understand that taking the words of others is often the expedient way to respond to potential controversy but it doesn’t seem to be treating this teaching elder as a colleague in ministry, by imply that he has somehow departed from the orthodox Reformed faith when both the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina and the COM both found him to be well within the orthodox Reformed tradition. I understand that you might not agree with that assessment.

    At first blush, this might seem to be just a theological chess game, where one side maneuvers to gain the upper hand on the other player. But we are dealing with a human being, who has a family which has been uprooted from one place to another to follow God’s call to be a stated supply in a congregation. This is a congregation that has a called and installed pastor/teaching elder and where the teaching elder in question will not be preaching weekly. His stated supply contract stipulates other duties. This is a real like situation not a hypothetical situation.

    Now to be candid, Saturday morning at the presbytery meeting I was so surprised that a teaching elder, who had already been received into the membership of the presbytery by action of the COM was begin questioned like he was an inquirer or candidate, that it took me several moments to follow the line of questioning. I think it surprised everyone at the presbytery meeting, including the teaching elder being questioned. I would also add that because of this unusual departure of the presbytery’s usual procedures, my ability to recall the exact words used by the teaching elder being questioned or the person questioning him is not a clear as I would prefer. I would also suggest that while the two people were speaking the same language, Southerner, they were not using the words the same way. That might play a part in this brouhaha.

    I suspect that had I been the person being questioned Saturday, I might have quoted Bruce Springsteen lyrics, the US Constitution, Chaucer, or C.S. Lewis. I also suspect that I might have said something, off the top of my head, that upon further reflection, I might wish to modify later. I suspect that had the teaching elder in question been informed that he would be questioned about his beliefs he might have responded differently. Alas, that was not the case. When I was received into the presbytery the COM chairperson assured me I wouldn’t face any questions from the presbytery.

    I am not sure how the teaching elder in question would respond to the question if it had come directly from the confessions. So I can’t answer that question. I would hope he would do me the same for me if the situation were reversed.

    Sadly, the various General Assemblies of the PC(USA) have been reluctant to list the essentials of the Reformed faith. Since the General Assemblies have chosen this path, we are left with situations like this where we have a question about the essentials of the Reformed faith without having a definitive list. They have not done us any favors by their action.

    Warmest Regards,
    ELB

    • revmary Says:

      Ed, thank you for taking the time to give me the feel of this unfortunate interchange at presbytery on Saturday. I can see how things can go south, without either party to the interchange really wanting that to happen. Short of hearing a tape-recording of the proceedings, we may never know exactly what was said; nevertheless, the occasion might just open up a thorough theological discussion in your presbytery (and others, if possible). If we can find a way to identify what really are the theological non-negotiables, it could save us some time and heartache. I also agree with you that there are several presbyterian dialects (“southerner” being only one), and the same words are used to mean different things. It’s almost like we need a Presbyterian Lexicon summit meeting: Let’s agree that when we use [this word] it means [this.] If [this] doesn’t say what I want to mean by “atonement,” for instance, then we can assign another word to that nuance. But language in post-modernism is a tricky deal, and some I think are heavily vested in keeping things fuzzy or by their silence obscuring questionable meanings of the same words. Some of my readers and I myself have read Statements of Faith, asked about the meaning of words used therein, and found some candidates/ministers capitalizing on the assumption, “If I don’t explicitly mention [an essential tenet], people will assume I believe in that.” The reality is not always true to that assumption, I’m afraid.
      Thanks for writing, and for your spirit in doing so. I appreciate the time this has taken you to correspond. ——Mary

    • Whit Says:

      “But we are dealing with a human being, who has a family which has been uprooted from one place to another to follow God’s call to be a stated supply in a congregation. ”

      Ed,
      I am not a Teaching Elder, so my financial well-being is not tied to my place in the Church. My reaction to your sentence quoted above may come from a different place. I think that the concern of the Church should be for the proper shepherding of the flock, not the careers of its TEs. We should be able to, though in reality we cannot, assume that a transfer from another presbytery is orthodox. And if that turns out not to be the case, then it is more important to prevent error than to employ the unorthodox TE. The unorthodox TE is in a better position to know than the COM, at the time of the transfer, that his theology will be acceptable to the new presbytery.

      • Ed Says:

        Dear Mary and Anonymous,

        I don’t believe I mentioned a financial concern in my earlier posts. I am not sure where you read that or maybe you assume that is my point. It is not not point or even a consideration in my post.

        I was furthering my assertion that when we deal with our colleagues in ministry, we should remember we are talking about real people, with real families, and real life situations and not simply hypothetical situations.

        If we, as ruling elders and teaching elders, make vows to be a colleague in ministry, which every ruling elder and teacher elder does upon ordination and installation, we should attempt to live that out in real life and in blog/internet life. The vows that all teaching elders and ruling elders make does demonstrate the shared care of both the sheep in Jesus’ flock and the under-shepherds who tend the sheep. When we find ourselves in controversy with our colleagues in ministry we should not set aside our vows to be colleagues in ministry until such time that a person’s ordination is set aside and vows are no longer in effect.

        Also, something I just remembered is that the teaching elder in question had previously been an inquirer and candidate under the care of the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina. He has a long history with this presbytery as a life long member of a church within the bounds of the presbytery.

        So this presbytery has on several occasions in recent memory/history judged him to be within the bounds of the orthodox Reformed faith. Granted, his theology may have changed in the years between when he was judged by the presbytery and COM to be ready to receive a call and when he interviewed to be received as a member at large.

        But I suspect most folks there trusted the previous work of the presbytery’s CPM and COM to judge the theological leanings of the teaching elder. Also, his sending presbytery considered the teaching elder to be in good standing with that presbytery and within its understanding of the bounds of Reformed theology.

        Warmest Regards,
        ELB

      • Ed Says:

        Witt, I apologize for referring to you as annonymous. I didn’t see a name at the end of your post and didn’t see your name at the top. After reading it again, I noticed your name. My oversight.

  13. John R. Kerr Says:

    Mary,

    I confess that I did not hear the entire exchange with the prospective member in question. I heard from several different colleagues that he did deny the atonement–that Jesus’ death was to reconcile us to God, but that he did not die for our sins. What I did hear clearly was that the Scriptures were, in his opinion, “unique and authoritative” for Christians but that he could not say that they had authority for anyone else. In essence, he is saying that they have no authority. So, why would we ever bother to evangelize? By that reasoning, there’s no point!

    Mr. Boyce is in error on one point: had the motion to arrest the examination without approval been made and passed, the person would not have been admitted to membership. The fact that we don’t doesn’t mean that we can’t. Would that we had, but then we are becoming more and more theologically fuzzy. That may be the reason that our denomination has not seen positive growth since 1969. Lord have mercy!

    John Kerr

  14. Ed Says:

    Dear Mary and Mr Kerr,

    Thank you for your response, Mr. Kerr. As with my earlier comment to Reverend Mary, I normally find myself standing near you in issues before the presbytery, and it seems a bit odd to momentarily stand in a different position.

    Over the 3 and 1/2 years I’ve been in the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina, I have had the same conversation with COM members as to the commission powers granted by the presbytery to the COM. They have been interesting conversations because the COM memebrs have not agreed with each other on the extent of commission powers granted to the COM. There have been those who have asserted that the presbytery has given them commission power to receive minister members (can’t recall the correct term under the New Form of Government) without the presbytery needing to vote on the individual action. And there have been those who have said that it is not clear how far the commission powers of the COM extend when it comes to reveiving new minister members. Moreover, there has been one person who said the COM has no commission powers to receive minister members. That person believes that power has been reserved by the presbytery for the presbytery only..

    It is with those previous experiences that I wrote my earlier post, siding with the majority responses. In my own personal experience when I was received into the presbytery, the chair of the COM assured me that the COM’s action to receive me was a “done deal” and my introduction to the presbytery was in fact pro forma.

    Perhaps the Presbytery needs to clarify this point of polity so it is clearer. However, it may be possible that the presbytery is comfortable with the current state of vague understanding of the commission powers of the COM.

    I also heard the teaching elder being questioned aver that the, “Scriptures were, in his opinion, “unique and authoritative” for Christians but that he could not say that they had authority for anyone else.” I however, didn’t come to the same conclusion as you did.

    I understood this comment to be a statement of the teaching elder’s understanding that he was affirming his own belief in Scriptures while not imposing his own theological construct on others, who might not have the same theiological beliefs. If I had the chance to spend more time in coversation with the teaching elder, I might come to the same conclusion as you. As the American auto industry correctly asserts, “your mileage may vary”.

    I suspect the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina will have more discussions over the ways teaching elders are received into the presbytery’s membership and the extent of the COM’s commission powers in receiving them.
    Warmest Regards,
    ELB

  15. John R. Kerr Says:

    Dear Mary and Ed:

    My conclusion comes from his words, and if what he said is not what he meant, then he needs to clarify how that can be possible. For example, Jesus commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of th Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 19-20a, ESV). If that authority does not extend beyond Christians, then we have just relegated Scripture to the level of Aesop’s fables. I cannot see how one can conclude anything other than theological fecklessness. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but a teaching elder is held to a higher standard than others.

    As for the polity issue, I have found no evidence to suggest that presbytery has delegated the power to receive ministers–excuse me, teaching elders–to COM. If there is confusion, we need to clear that up, and sooner rather than later!

    Blessings, John Kerr

  16. Whit Says:

    Mary,
    Alas, in Chicago I have witnessed several ordination and/or transfer exams of TEs who were universalists, or who denied outright the authority of Scripture regardless of interpretation, or who denied that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. None of these exams resulted in a no vote of the assembly.
    I also witnessed one orthodox candidate suffer a truely difficult ordination exam because he stated that he would seek to correct the unorthodox opinions of his congregants. He did get through, but it was a close-run thing.
    Notice none of this had to do with sexuality.


  17. John, Ed. Mary, et.al.,
    I am a member of the COM in Coastal Carolina, but not the same area in which this candidate was examined. I am in the eastern region of the presbytery and the COM that examined this candidate was in the central region.

    But Ed, I think you have two things confused. Presbytery gave each regional COM authority to act for the COM in its area. Thus, after meeting with the regional COM, people are sent to the floor of presbytery for examination, reception, etc.

    However, the COM does not have the power to act on behalf of presbytery in approving candidates, people moving in, etc. There must still be an examination and presentation to the whole presbytery for a vote. COM may make the recommendation, but only Presbytery can ordain, install, receive, etc. It sounds like there is some confusion there.

    Thanks,

    • Derek Simmons Says:

      I’m young so maybe it is a lack of time-on-earth, but…..
      I have never seen a Presbytery vote contrary to COM when it comes to ordination. What you say is true “according to the book”, but the problem Mary is pointing to is that we have stopped doing things “according to The Book.”

  18. Ed Says:

    Walter, thank you for your addition to the conversation. I would say that the De facto experience of the members of the COM is that they do have commission powers. Several members have shared with me conversations over the years about that perception. I would suspect that many of the commissioners at the presbytery meeting would have said that the COM has been given such powers. Thank you for clarification that there is no De jure policy or action of the presbytery to grant the COM commission powers. I readily admit my understanding was incorrect.

    Thank you for the gracious way you corrected my error. Since I am not the only member of the presbytery with the incorrect understanding, I do believe the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina needs to clarify the COM’s power to receive previously ordained teaching elders.

    Warmest regards,ELB

  19. Ed Says:

    Dear Mary, Walter, et. al,

    Imagine my surprise to finally locate the link to the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina’s Manual of Administrative Operations and read the following:

    The COM section in the Manual states,
    “The Committee on Ministry shall have authority to act for the Presbytery on those matters detailed in the Book of Order G-11.0502h, as well as the power to appoint a moderator of session for a church without an installed pastor (G-10.0103b), to appoint ministers with approval of Presbytery Book of Order G-14.0550, to serve as stated supply pastors (G-14.0513a), to grant permission for member ministers to engage in work outside the geographic bounds and/or jurisdiction of this Presbytery (G-11.0401a), and to grant permission to minister members of other presbyteries to engage in work within the bounds and/or jurisdiction of this presbytery (G-11.0401a). All such actions shall be reported to the next stated meeting of Presbytery.”

    The Book of Order Reference is from G-11.0502h which states, ” It (COM) may be given authority by the presbytery to find in order calls issued by churches, to approve and present calls for services of ministers, to approve the examination of ministers transferring from other presbyteries required by G-11.0402, to dissolve the pastoral relationship in cases where the congregation and pastor concur, to grant permission to labor within or outside the bounds of the presbytery, and to dismiss ministers to other presbyteries, with the provision that all such actions be reported to the next stated meeting of the presbytery.”

    I think, based on these passages from the Book of Order and the Presbytery’s Manual of Administrative Operations, you might see how I could have made my assertions about the the COM’s commission power in my earlier posts.

    Obviously this changes nothing that happened Saturday, but it does shed light on what the current presbytery guiding rules, regulations, and standards are. Maybe, in the future, when the COM makes its reports on receiving newly transferred teaching elders the Moderator of the COM could make this presbytery standard/rule/regulation known to the commissioners in attendance.

    The full text of the Presbytery’s Manual of Administrative Operations can be downloaded from the following link:

    http://www.presbycc.org/pdf/manualofadminops.pdf

    Warmest Regards,
    ELB

  20. Steve Hein Says:

    As Chair of the entire COM of Coastal Carolina let me clarify as best as possible some of the procedural issues that have been raised. We now have 3 regional COM’s which conduct business of behalf on the entire COM.
    Although COM has been delegated many responsibilities over the years, the admission to our Presbytery for either candidates for ordination receiving a call from a church, or for those previously ordained has always been subject to the approval of the Presbytery. When I was received into this Presbytery 13 years ago, I came before Presbytery and was asked to give a brief statement of my Christian journey, and I had submitted a statement of faith that was published for the Presbytery to read. I was asked a few questions and then motions were made to admit me into membership and approve my terms of call and the comission to install. That patteren has not changed in the 13 years I have been a member of this Presbytery and I have served on the COM for 9 of those years.
    As Moderator of COM my task is to present the work of the regional COM’s which the Presbytery then approves or disapproves. Hope this helps clarify this situation. As to the whether the Presbytery made the correct decision in the case this refers to is a matter of debate which there is obvious disagreement and I can understand that. I actually found it refreshing that questions were addressed to this minister. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    • revmary Says:

      Steve, this is very helpful to me, and now I am sure to the members of your presbytery who have commented on my blog. There are variances in the reporting of what your procedure is from them, so maybe the service I provided (inadvertently, of course) was to bring that misunderstanding to light. Trusting that you will fulfill your responsibilities on behalf of the whole church to assure our essentials of the Reformed faith.

      • Steve Hein Says:

        Mary,
        All of Presbyterian life I have yearned for a short list of essentials. I remember my oral exam on the floor of Pgh Presbytery like it was yesterday. What I remember was being in a group on three candidates all of us had graduated from Pgh.Theo.Sem. Andy and I had statements of faith that were pretty similar and very orthodox and then there was Randy. His statement was as different from ours as night and day. To my amazement all three of us were accepted. It was on that day that I learned we had NO essentials despite what my beloved professor Dr. John Gerstner had taught us. If all three of us fit in the “reformed” faith, which apparently the Presbytery said, I was left wondering what in the world the reformed faith was!! That was nearly 40 years ago and it is no wonder the church is in its current state. I still believe we are very orthodox in our confessions but they matter very little in my opinion to the beliefs of a lot of my fellow Presbyterians.

  21. stushie Says:

    The Atonement is not only an essential tenet of the Reformation, it is the bedrock of justification by faith. Those who use wiggle room by saying that they are undefined are playing with fire. Grass roots people in the pews understand the forgiveness of sins through Christ every Sunday. This person from Coastal Carolina is supposedly wanting to work with youth. Heaven forbid!

  22. Timothy Says:

    What is this teaching elder’s name? What church is s/he serving?

    Timothy

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