If the first report is any indication I am very disturbed by the focus of the New Wineskins Conference. It seems to me that the leaders of this group have no real belief in Presbyterianism or the Reformed faith. Their words are very focused on emotion-driven Christianity without any real desire to seek anything substantive or foundational. Evangelical Big-Box at heart this quote from the story on Layman Online is especially disturbing:
Dean Weaver, pastor of Community Park Presbyterian Church and co-moderator of the New Wineskins Initiative, as part of an “action plan” that also calls for the evangelical group to become formally organized as the New Wineskins Association of Churches. Although first organized as a parallel evangelical movement within the Presbyterian Church (USA), the New Wineskins Initiative has made almost no reference to being denominational or Presbyterian. Weaver emphasized that distinction during his presentation of the action plan, although it did include a reference to a connectionalism “as understood by the historic Reformed tradition.”
So here we have a “Presbyterian renewal group” that is neither Presbyterian in any fashion nor is it in the least bit interested in reforming the church. It seems that this conference is an insult to anyone who really desires to reform the church. I was never really impressed by the NWI nor the Constitutional Presbyterians and the beginnings of this conference has definitely not changed my understandings of this Renewal Group. Hopefully the Layman is printing an incorrect translation of what is really going on in Tulsa.
An Appeal to Presbyterians and Congregations
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
We are loyal Presbyterians who affirm the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of Holy Scripture (our only infallible rule of faith and practice), and biblical standards for holy living. Therefore we seek to be a church that is faithful to the Word of God.
The marks of the true Church are the Word of God truly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. The passage of the recommendations of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church will confirm the growing obscurity of these marks. Our drift away from constitutional integrity is equally tragic. This is increasingly apparent in judicial decisions that have affirmed the celebration of so-called marriages between persons of the same sex and the ordination of individuals in violation of our current standards.
Denying the truth of Scripture by endorsing and supporting ordination of those who are sexually active outside of marriage, to say nothing of bypassing constitutional process to do so, is not the Presbyterian way. These and other actions of the church are not only offensive, but they also violate our conscience, which is bound to the Word of God. In effect, the Presbyterian Church of which we are a part is departing from her own standards. In response, we believe that the denomination is being called back to faithfulness.
Accordingly, many Presbyterian officers and members have been watching with dismay the slide in our denomination away from biblical faithfulness and from sacramental integrity. We are preparing to offer a response to the present crisis, an alternative for both congregations and individual Presbyterians. We pray that the true and faithful witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) thus may be renewed under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We appeal to Presbyterians and Sessions, who, like us, are troubled by all of this, to remain strong in their faith and to remain active in their congregations. We will invite them to join us in further action following the June 2006 meeting of the General Assembly.
Drafted and signed in Montreat, N.C., March 31, 2006.