If you haven’t heard, CNN has reported that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has ordained its first openly gay pastor. Let’s quickly acknowledge that the church has not interacted with homosexuals well, and that this issue is one that takes great humility, care, respect, and conviction… all which can coexist together! Homosexuals are people, just like heterosexuals, and all people suffer from sin, brokenness, and misunderstandings. But the PCUSA’s ordination of an openly gay pastor does not surprise me due to the changes that they have made in their understanding of biblical authority. I also get a sense that they have a desire to be “progressive” over and above maintaining catholicity. The now-ordained-openly-gay pastor, Scott Anderson, is quoted as saying,
“Our church is recognizing there are a variety of viewpoints on scripture. There’s no longer a right viewpoint and a wrong viewpoint but several faithful viewpoints, one of which includes me in terms of being a minister in the Presbyterian church. So we’re honoring a diversity of viewpoints in our church.”
Several questions that come to mind in response to this quote. What about viewpoints that are mutually exclusive? How do you honor such viewpoints? Or has PCUSA come to the conclusion that there simply are no mutually exclusive ideas? There are certainly a variety of viewpoints regarding subjects related to eschatology or ecclesiology, but when did simply ignoring passages of the Bible become a valid viewpoint?
CNN also reported that Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, does not believe Mormonism is a cult. This is in response to some recent comments made by a pastor in TX regarding Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and whether or not it is a cult (the pastor said Romney’s Mormonism is a cult). First off, I’d like to state for the record that I think the rhetoric used by the Republicans who are making Mormonism their “hill to die on” as simply ridiculous. I have just as little trust for the “Christian” politicians as I do the “Mormon” politicians. Why? Simple: they are all politicians. Who knows if they are being honest or just trying to sell themselves. But that’s besides the point.
I think Mouw’s opinions are interesting regarding the way that Mormonism is now. But, as Denny Burk makes clear, Mormonism falls into cult status based on some very significant departures from historic orthodoxy (cf. Justin Taylor’s FAQ on the differences between Mormons and Christians). Burk says that it’s possible a better term than “cult” would be “organized heterodoxy,” though cult is still appropriate. Mouw seems to somewhat agree with the issue of heterodoxy, for he writes:
“My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching… While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology…”
Interesting, to say the least. On some levels, sad. On others, challenging.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.