confessing church resolution

 

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Background

At its meeting on August 15th, 2001, the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Escondido, California, moved to confess and affirm some of the key historic truths of the Christian faith. This resolution is reviewed and voted on annually at the October meeting of Session in honor of Reformation Sunday.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.s.A.) has removed the Ordination. Standards from the Church’s Book of Order that require of church officers, “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.

      The General Assembly of 2001 was asked to make a clear statement affirming the biblical proclamation that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, alone is Lord of all and “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12). Many in the church were disappointed that the General Assembly was not able to affirm this clear teaching which is central to the New Testament and a core theme of the creeds and confessions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Subsequent General Assemblies have shown a tendency toward theological relativism and an aversion to making a clear statement on the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Savior for the world.

In response to the lack of clarity of the General Assembly on particular issues which are critical at this point in the life of the church, many local churches have taken the initiative to publicly state their beliefs in three key areas: The person and work of Jesus, the authority of scripture, and the life of discipleship. This has begun what many are referring to as a “Confessing Church Movement” in our denomination. Rather than reacting to the actions of the denomination, many churches are seizing the opportunity to be proactive in stating what they believe in clear terms. After much study, prayer, and discussion, the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church affirms the following resolution:

Session Resolution

The Centrality of Jesus Christ

  • That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, alone is Lord of all and “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). [John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15-20]

The Authority of Scripture

  • The Bible, as God’s revealed word, is authoritative in all matters of faith and life. When we teach, preach and exercise church discipline in areas related to character, theological doctrine, ethical behavior and lifestyle choices, we are to follow God’s word above all earthly experiences, authorities, thought systems and ideologies. [2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13]

The Definition of Marriage

  • It is the teaching of Scripture that humanity has been created male and female, and that this creative order is the one proper basis for the covenant of marriage. Jesus cites and authorizes this order when he quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in relation to marriage: “From the beginning of creation ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ Thus, they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:7-8).
    This same understanding governs the confessional tradition of the PCUSA. The Second Helvetic Confession (5.246), the Westminster Confession (6.131) and the Confession of 1967 (9.47) all expressly define marriage as a covenant before God between one man and one woman.
    Based on the teachings of Scripture and our confessions, we resolve that the facilities of this church will not be used for same-sex weddings nor shall pastors associated with our church be authorized by this session to perform weddings of same- gender couples.

The Life of Discipleship

Disciples of Jesus are called to holiness and wholeness in all aspects of life. This call includes, but is not limited to, the following areas of obedience to God’s word:
  • Attention to the life of the Spirit through the disciplines of study, prayer, reflection, worship, stewardship, and service. [Exodus 20:8; Acts 2:42; Romans 12:11-13; Ephesians 6:18]
  • Honesty and truthfulness in relationships with others. [Exodus 20:16, Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 4:25]
  • Sexual purity and relational integrity which includes fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. [Genesis 2:23-24; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 7:8-14; 1 Corinthians 6:18]
  • Treating all persons with equal respect and concern as beloved children of God. [Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:15; Matthew 25:37-40, Acts 10:34-35]
  • Refraining from abusive, addictive, or exploitative behavior, and seeking help to overcome such behavior if it occurs. [Exodus 20:15; Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Galatians 5:13-15]
  • Refraining from gossip and abusive speech. [Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 20:19; James 4;11-12]
  • Rejecting the idolatry of our present culture which places worldly success, sexual fulfillment, national interest, entertainment, appearance, and self, above God. [Exodus 20:3-5; Romans 1:24-25, Matthew 19:16-24]
  • Walking with God with an attitude of repentance, humility, and forgiveness. [Psalm 51, Mark 1:15; James 1:21; Philippians 2:3]
  • Bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ with courage and compassion, in word and in deed. [Mark 1:17; James 2:15-17; Matthew 28:18-20]
  • Love for God and for all people [Matthew 22:37-40, 1 John 4:7-8]
We call special attention to these areas of obedience because they are areas which have been undermined by our culture, and neglected by many who call themselves Christians.

 

The confession of these beliefs is here specifically declared because of a growing theological, spiritual, and moral confusion within the Presbyterian Church (USA). We, the session, therefore announce our commitment as a Confessing Church in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and register Westminster’s commitment to and participation with other congregations who join us in affirming the above theological declarations.
We also declare that our per capita apportionment and any other undesignated financial support will be withheld from the national level of the PCUSA until the PCUSA is able to bring its programs and ministries into alignment with the beliefs affirmed in this resolution.