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Summary: It doesn't matter how active you are in ministry if you are teaching a distorted Gospel.

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Some of you may remember my telling of an incident that took place in our Presbytery last fall. A woman pastor from the Netherlands was received into membership in our Presbytery even though she does not believe that Jesus is God, or in the atonement - that is, that the death of Jesus on the cross paid for our sins - each one of us individually - so that we could be reconciled to God. There was a lot of argument on the floor, and the matter was even sent back to committee to be reviewed before a final vote. But eventually the vote went forward, and Rev. Dekker was admitted. The last person to speak before the vote made a very emotional appeal, quoting some modern theologian that Reformed theology - which is a fancy way of saying “what Presbyterians have historically believed” was characterized by “an open heart, an open hand, and an open mind.”

Well, this sounds nice, of course, who would want to be accused of being closed-minded?

One commissioner stood and called for us to welcome divergent viewpoints, saying that such differences "enriched the church." A pastor newly arrived from Pakistan, a place where persecution of Christians is among the worst in the world, rose to say that in his country these were truths that our brothers and sisters were dying to defend, and that "heresy does not enrich the church, it destroys it." But the vote was called, and she was in. Allan Bloom, the sociologist and philosopher who wrote The Closing of the American Mind, wrote:

Openness, and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings ,is the great insight of our times. The "true believer" is the real danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that in the past all the world was mad; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. In this view the point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right, or at least beyond a reasonable doubt; rather it is not to think you are right at all.

Statistics show that we are among the most religious people in the world - and yet the incidence of premarital sex, divorce, and abortion among self-identified Christians is almost identical to the population at large. How can that be? According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81 percent of the American people believe that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." So the key to this paradox is the fact that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms:  terms that make no demands on behavior. A woman named Sheila, quoted in Bellah


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