It’s no secret mainline Protestant denominations have been in decline for over half a century now. There are many right reasons one could offer for why this is the case, but ultimately it boils down to one thing: They have no gospel, and thus nothing to offer the dying world.
Case in point: The Presbyterian Church USA (hereafter PCUSA), which for decades has been at the forefront of theological liberalism in this country, and a recent study reveals the fruit of such a drift.
Here are just some of the statistics that could alarm you if you don’t normally pay attention to this type of thing:
- 39% of members report reading the Bible weekly. Ruling elders only come in ten points higher at 49%.
- 46% of members agree with the statement, “An individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church.” And while 76% of pastors disagree with the statement, that means at least 24% of them do agree. That’s baaaaad.
- Perhaps most alarming, but really not surprising when you consider those numbers above, 45% of pastors disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “Only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved.” So almost half of PCUSA clergy do not believe themselves that their message is essential for people to be saved.
Alarming statistics indeed, even if you have been paying attention to this type of thing. What is essentially happening here? Or rather, what has happened?
Put simply, the PCUSA has long since abandoned the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. You can’t hold a high view of Scripture and produce the kinds of numbers listed above. And since they have abandoned Scripture, it means they have abandoned God. They may hold to a form of godliness, but they deny its power, and thus they must be avoided (2 Tim 3:5). But more on that in a minute.
Psalm 119:1 says, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.” The PCUSA has forfeited blamelessness, then, by forsaking the Bible. “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart” (Ps 119:2). Testimonies being a way of referring the word of God here, it’s clear the PCUSA isn’t seeking God with all its collective heart.
And let me stop here and just add that I am speaking of the denomination as a whole, not individuals, for I am confident that there are longsuffering disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who earnestly desire and are working for reform.
That said, it’s clear the PCUSA has no use for the word of God, and thus they have starved themselves from the sustenance God provides us for the spiritual life. After all, Jesus Himself said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD'” (Matt 4:4). He said that to Satan, of course, responding to the temptations of the devil. Tragically, the PCUSA has given in to such temptations, choosing every other food but that which proceeds out of the mouth of God, seeking to satisfy themselves by following the culture, making their version of Christianity (which is no Christianity at all) about them, and not about Jesus.
Paul wrote that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Yet the PCUSA, for any good work it might think it does, has by abandoning Scripture forsaken the only thing that makes us adequate and equipped for any good work at all. And furthermore, teaching is lost, it won’t hear the reproof of the Spirit through the work, it doesn’t know how to fix itself, and can’t train for righteousness’ sake. When Scripture is lost, all is lost.
And so it comes as no surprise that almost half of the responding PCUSA members to this survey believe you can arrive to your own religious belief apart from the church (and the implication is that that is okay). When that is accepted by the people, it’s Judges 21:25 being played out before our eyes: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
How else can you explain how 45% of PCUSA pastors don’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation? These false brethren deny the Master who bought them (2 Pet 2:1), denying His very words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
The situation is dire, and as the denomination ages out and fewer and fewer young Presbyterians take their place (after all, there’s no message here that is different from the world), the PCUSA will inevitably die without an act of God on its behalf.
It will take something akin to what we read in Judah’s history, when the book of the law was found in the house of the LORD (2 Kgs 22:8). You might think it’s a good thing it was found, and it was, but the point is: WHY WAS IT LOST IN THE FIRST PLACE? The PCUSA’s only hope is that the book of the law of the LORD is found, and it’s right in front of their faces. It will take an act of God for this to happen, and then perhaps… perhaps… it may reform and repent as Judah did in the days of King Josiah.
That should be the prayer of the faithful, but until that happens, I don’t hesitate in recommending any PCUSA member who asks me (not that any have) that they come out from these false churches. As Paul commanded his beloved son in the faith, “Avoid such men as these” (2 Tim 3:5). If the PCUSA won’t follow Christ, I pray it’s death be swift, that the name of God not continue to be blasphemed by it.
RELATED LINK: The Coming Collapse of the PC(USA) – Juicy Ecumenism