Monday, June 27, 2011

Spitting into the Wind

Fellow PCA minister William H. Smith, (who, incidentally, examined me for ordination in Pittsburgh Presbytery) has written a thoughtful piece about mercy ministry. In our denomination mercy ministry is more than a fad - it has become fashionable, yeah essential to many. Smith argues that many view it as a fourth mark of the church along with preaching of the Gospel, right administration of the sacraments and church discipline. 

I'm not against helping the poor.  I serve on the board of a local non-profit that helps those in need.  I've participated in other activities to assist and benefit the poor.  But when I see churches make it a front-and-center part of the ministries I scratch my head.  A few years back I recall reading about a PCA church-plant in a major North American city seeking to make an impact upon their city by offering hot showers to the homeless.  Say what? 

Smith writes...

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; you don’t spit into the wind; you don’t pull on the mask of the old Lone Ranger…”; and you don’t question mercy ministries in the PCA. Or, so it seems.

Somehow in the Presbyterian Church in America we made a decision without ever having a discussion. It surprised some of us because one of the complaints about the PCUS was its embrace of the “social gospel” and its shift from doing evangelism to doing good deeds.

This seems to fit into a pattern in the PCA. Decrying centralization at our founding, we have become more centralized. Protesting the church’s making statements on political matters, we have made our share of statements on political matters. Standing strongly against women’s ordination to all offices we have begun to discuss women’s ordination at least to the diaconate.

The matter of the propriety of the church’s engaging in all sorts of mercy ministries from feeding the poor to engaging in community development seems now to be a given. You don’t question it. If you do, you risk being looked at as a poor benighted soul (that is, if you have a soul).

But, let me spit into the wind a little.

You can read the rest here: The Christian Curmudgeon:Spitting into the Wind

Smith steps on a few toes along the way but in the end he upholds the biblical office of deacon arguing that both historically and biblically mercy ministry was chiefly expressed towards members of the church not society at large. 

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