By Robin G. Jordan
If I were a member of the clergy or a member of a congregation in the denomination that was not making room for what I believe in its official formularies, I would be deeply concerned. I would be especially concerned if I was a biblically faithful orthodox Christian whose beliefs are consistent with the teaching of the Bible and have a long history in the reformed tradition to which the denomination purportedly belongs. Denominational leaders not only were not supporting what I believed but also were working to impose upon the denomination a system of beliefs that the same tradition had in the past rejected on solid biblical grounds. Indeed they gave all indications of working to undo the reformed character of that tradition.
I would conclude that denominational leaders were seeking to exclude from the denomination biblically faithful orthodox Christians like myself and the beliefs that we share. I do not see how else such a state of affairs could be interpreted. Any other interpretation of this state of affairs would be an attempt to explain way or rationalize the obvious.
I would further conclude that those who argued that biblically faithful, orthodox Christians with my beliefs had plenty of room in the denomination were not facing up to the reality of the state of affairs in the denomination. While I would give them the benefit of the doubt, I would not rule out the possibility that they had ulterior motives. For example, they did not want clergy and congregations sharing my beliefs to become alarmed and withdraw from the denomination, hoping over time that they would come to accept or tolerate the system of beliefs that denominational leaders were working to establish as the official belief system of the denomination.
I would take note of similar developments in other denominations in the past as well as the present, in which biblically faithful, orthodox Christians were excluded from their respective denominations. I would study how those who were being excluded responded to their exclusion and evaluate the effectiveness of their particular response. What counter measures did they take? What worked? What did not? What factors contributed to the success or failure of a particular counter measure? .
I would join with others who share my concerns, map out a strategy for responding, and implement it. I would adjust that strategy when indicated. I would take what practical steps could be taken. For example—
- Draw to attention to the plight of clergy and congregations sharing my beliefs in the denomination.
- Generate support for clergy and congregations sharing these beliefs outside the denomination.
- Create within the denomination an enclave for such clergy and congregations in which they would not be affected by the belief system that denominational leaders are seeking to impose on the denomination.
- Make contingency plans for the formation of a new denomination in the event concerted efforts to create such an enclave were unsuccessful.
The one thing that I would not do is adopt a defeatist attitude and do nothing.
As an outsider who shared the beliefs of the biblically faithful orthodox Christian clergy and congregations experiencing exclusion in the denomination, I would want to do all that I could to help and support those being excluded.
If I was a part of an organization that had committed itself to a policy of intervention in cases where denominations or judicatories were excluding biblically faithful orthodox Christians, I would have a strong sense of moral obligation to intervene and would question any hesitance or selectivity on the part of the organization’s leaders to implement the policy to which the organization has committed itself. I would be concerned that the denomination’s leaders might interpret such hesitance or selectivity as acquiescence to the developments in the denomination. I would be mindful of how past appeasement and inaction have exacerbated similar developments in other denominations.
If I was a leader of a denomination or judicatory which was a member of that organization and was fully committed to such policy I might conclude that unilateral intervention might be warranted.
What would you do?