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Renewal of the Church

A House Divided: What Presbyterians Might Learn From Jacob and Esau by D. Matthew Stith
That the Presbyterian family in America is a house divided is neither a new phenomenon nor a particularly original observation. For reasons that have seemed good (or at least sufficient) to us, we find ourselves broken into what are functionally separate clans, with all of the characteristically “clannish” behavior that one would expect in such a situation. Winter 2018 Pg. 12, Theology Matters

Calvin and Barth on the Unity of the Church by Richard Burnett
The unity of the church concerned John Calvin so much that he wrote to Thomas Cranmer on April 1552: “The members of the Church being severed, the body lies bleeding. So much does this concern me, that, could I be of any service, I would not grudge to cross even ten seas, if need were, on account of it” (Letters 2:348). Winter 2018 Pg. 15, Theology Matters

A Letter from the Board of Directors of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry declaring that there are some doctrines present in the church which represent a counterfeit Christianity. Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p. 1

The PC(USA) Through the Lens of Jeremiah by Elder Lisa Van Riper, Board of Directors of PFFM.  Jeremiah spoke strongly to the false prophets of his day.  There are many lessons to be learned for our current situation in the PC(USA). Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p.l 4

Ambassadors for Christ by Rev. Dr. Mark Atkinson, Board of Directors of PFFM.  Atkinson examine 2 Corinthians to understand the role of the church and its leaders in this time of crisis. Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p. 7

The Counterfeit Gospel by Rev. Dr. Randal Working, Board of Directors of PFFM.  Working looks at the source of this counterfeit Gospel which at its heart is a rejection of the authority of Scripture and a substitution of one's own experience. Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p. 10

Fight the Good Fight of Faith by J. Gresham Machen. This final sermon to the students at Princeton Theology Seminary in 1929 was a call to the students to stand firm and preach the Gospel against the tide of modernism which was undermining the authority of Scripture.  Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p. 13

Lessons from Nehemiah on Wall-Building, by Mrs. Terry Schlossberg--
Schlossberg studies the prophet Nehemiah who faced the insurmountable task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem from the rubble.  There are applicable lessons for those seeking to renew the PCUSA that appears now in rubble. p. 10  Jan/Feb 2009 Theology Matters

The Lamp Has Not Yet Gone Out, by Dr. James R. Edwards--
Edwards looks at 1 Samuel that was "the most desperate moment between Moses and David."  Yet in the midst of judgment and desperation, "the lamp of God had not yet been extinguished."  There are lessons for the church today as it seeks God's will in bringing renewal. p. 13  Jan/Feb 2009 Theology Matters

The Reformation of the Church: Where Is the Power Lodged, by Rev. Sue Cyre--
This is the first in an on-going series on steps to take in the reformation of the church.  This article discusses where the power to reform is lodged--in the people who form governing bodies.  The power is not lodged in renewal groups. p.15  Jan/Feb 2009 Theology Matters

The Protracted Struggle as a Spiritual Discipline, by Dr. James R. Edwards
Bible study of Matthew 16--Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi as it applies to the church today. Nov/Dec 2008 Theology Matters  p. 13

The Reformation of the Church, by Rev. Faith Jongewaard, p.15--
Jongewaard examines Hosea's commitment to Gomer because of his commitment to God. Jongewaard compares Hosea's faithfulness to an unfaithful wife to our faithful commitment to the PCUSA. Nov/Dec 2008 Theology Matters p. 15

The Reformation of the Church, by Rev. Sue Cyre, p.16--
Cyre begins a series on practical steps that must be taken to reform the church.  This article looks at the turmoil in the church caused by false teachers in 1 Peter.  Reference is also made to Calvin's commentary on 1 Peter.  Sep/Oct 2008 Theology Matters p. 16

Let Us Rise Up and Build: A Plan for Reformation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) p. 1-- This article was written by the Presbyterian Coalition.  The article discusses the present state of the church; what is needed for a faithful witness; and a specific plan to be implemented at the session, presbytery and General Assembly levels.  Nov/Dec 2007 Theology Matters, p. 1

Recovering Our Knowledge of Scripture by Mary Holder Naegeli, p. 13-- Naegeli challenges those who preach and teach to: open the book; read the Word in the worship context; and explain the Word to the people.  Nov/Dec 2007 Theology Matters, p. 13

How Can Our Denomination Become What It Ought to Be by James R. Edwards
This talk was given at the Coalition dinner during the 2006 General Assembly. Edwards challenged GA commissioners and all who face votes on whether the church should ordain practicing homosexuals that this the ordination of homosexuals is not parallel to the ordination of women.  Those who say it is "Pharisaical to judge others fail to understand that what Jesus opposed was that the Pharisees failed to hold themselves to the judgments they made. Finally, our church is so divided over this issue because many people no longer believe that doctrine matters. "If doctrine does not matter then the gospel does not matter."   Finally he encourages those who are weary to remember the protracted historic struggles and "to be steadfast, immovable, abounding in the world of the Lord...." 1 Cor 15:58  Sep/Oct 2006 Theology Matters p. 1

The Renewal That Is Changing the PCUSA
Various authors describe the renewal work in their presbyteries.  Others may glean ideas on how they can work for renewal in their own presbytery.  Sep/Oct 2006 Theology Matters p. 5

A Postcard from German Confessing Church pastor, Martin Niemoller from prisonSep/Oct 2006 Theology Matters p. 12

The Church Militant, by Susan Cyre  (this article first appeared in Theology Matters Jan/Feb 1997)
Many in the church and society long for peace and therefore seek to harmonize dualisms.  But biblical faith draws boundaries that cannot be compromised. Those boundaries cause a spiritual battle that is the church's calling. Knowing this, there practical steps we should take like telling the flock the whole gospel including that  discipleship involves a cross; praying and meeting with other clergy and elders, etc.  Sep/Oct 2006 Theology Matters p. 13 

The State of the Church: A Pentitential Self-Examination by Jerry Andrews
This address was given by Andrews at the Oct, 2005 Presbyterian Coalition Gathering in Orlando, FL.  He calls the church to repent of neglecting repentance;  to repent of neglecting the Word; and to repent of neglecting to love one another.  Jan/Feb 2006 Theology Matters p. 1

Lessons from United Methodist Renewal by James V. Heidinger II
This address was also given at the Presbyterian Coalition Gathering in Oct. 2005. Drawing comparisons to renewal in the United Methodist Church, Heidinger calls Presbyterians to ground their renewal work in theology; to unite and encourage the eveanglicals in the churches; to contend for the truth; to develop a stragy for renewal in the seminaries; and to have the courage to stand for the truth. Jan/Feb 2006 Theology Matters p. 4

A Word of Christ to the Church: A Bible Study on Revelation 2:1-6 by James R. Edwards
This study was given at the Presbyterian Coalition Gathering in Oct, 1005.  Edwards interprets for the church today, God's word to the church at Ephesus who had lost its first love by compromising Christ with culture. Jan/Feb 2006 Theology Matters p. 9

Never Easy, Ever Hopeful by Mary Holder Naegeli
This sermon was delivered at the Presbyterian Coalition Gathering in Oct. 2005. Naegeli preaches from 2 Cor. 4:1-18.   Naegeli challenges us that ministry hardships reminds us this is not heaven; our hardships engender hope in a glorious future.  And our hardships test our commitment to the Lord "when there are no feel-good props."  Jan/Feb 2006 Theology Matters p. 13

Reform from Within by Terry Schlossberg
In this talk given at the Presbyterian Coalition Gathering, Schlossberg calls evangelicals to love those they seek to change, understand their calling in difficult times, rely on Scripture, have a realistic understanding of the current situation in the church.  She gives some specific areas that need reform.   Jan/Feb 2004 Theology Matters, p. 6

The State of the Church by Jerry Andrews
Andrews comments on the state of the church in October 2002 after the defeat of Amendment A the previous spring. Amendment A sought to remove the ordination standard that officers were to live faithfully in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastely in singleness.   Jan/Feb 2003 Theology Matters   p.1

Church Renewal by Diane Knippers
Reprinted from a talk given to the Association of Church Renewal Confessing Christ Conference in Indianapolis, IN, October 2002.  Knippers explains that "Reformation is simply one of the ongoing tasks of the church.  And we must look for the blessing of this work--that our most difficult battles may produce incredible gifts for our children's children."  The attributes of the contemporary reform movements are: It is mature and diverse; it is ecumenical; it is profoundly theological; it addresses moral issues; it is global; it is generational."     Jan/Feb 2003 Theology Matters    p. 4

Ordinary and Extraordinary Discipline: Mutual Accountability in the Reformed Tradition by Charles Wiley
Wiley addresses mutual accountability; why discipline?, ordinary discipline, reconciliation, worship at the heart, grace in the mundane, we are all implicated, moving forward.     Jan/Feb 2003 Theology Matters    p. 10

Time to Quit? A Reflection on Perseverance by Roberta Hestenes
Reflecting on her time in Cambodia and seeing the "killing fields" and then Hebrews 12:2-4, Hestenes rebukes those who are tired of the conflicts in the PCUSA.  She writes, "It is my conviction that faithfulness to Christ calls us to persevere in the situation where He has placed us unless or until w are given very clear permission to remove.  Impatience or dislike of conflict are not reason enough to withdraw or quit. As long as we have freedom and opportunity to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, calling people to saving faith and a holy life, we should not abandon our vows and give up." Sep/Oct 2001 Theology Matters p. 13

Touched by Fire: Presbyterians and Revival by Keith Edwards Beebe, Adjunct Professor at Whitworth College, Spokane, WA.  Beebe examines the origin and shape of Presbyterian revivals from the 16th -19th centuries.  Mar/Apr 2000 Theology Matters p. 1

Preaching in Revival  by Philip W. Keevil, PCUSA pastor and author of Preaching in Revival, University Press of America, 1999. Keevil writes, "preaching is central to the history of revival in every age."  Keevil examines: The Elements of Revival Preaching and Connections between Preaching and Revival. Mar/Apr 2000 Theology Matters  p. 9

Church Renewal Brings Cultural Transformation: The English Revolution Of the Early Nineteenth Century by Dr. Herbert Schlossberg, PCUSA Elder and author of numerous articles and books including Idols for Destruction and A Fragrance of Oppression.  Schlossberg writes, "In spite of considerable progress in the last few years, there is a good deal of discouragement among those seeking renewal in the church and the society.  It is as if people are despairing of ever achieving real reform.  Is it really possible that a society and a church that have lost their way to the extent ours have done have ever come back to some semblance of health and faithfulness? Yes...to illustrate this let us consider one particular period of history, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in England."  May/Jun 1998 Theology Matters p. 1

What Ever Happened to the Great Ends of the Church? by Dr. James R. Edwards, professor of religion at Whitworth College in Spokane, WA.   Edwards challenges the church saying, "We have ceased calling sinners to conversion, and church discipline is lax or non-existent.  We have been less than zealous for the truth of the gospel and purity of faith.  We have failed to teach our children the faith.  We have been indifferent to apostasy, mission and personal holiness..... What can be done? The answer, I suggest, is to recover a Biblical-confessional model for the church." May/Jun 1998 Theology Matters p. 8

 Renewal in the Mainline Churches by Rev. Susan A. Cyre, Executive Director of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry and Editor of Theology Matters. Cyre argues that the paradigm for renewal should not be the postmodern table with every theology represented and accepted, but the plumbline which calls each one to repent and return to God's revealed truth.  Some principles of biblical renewal are: that spiritual warfare is the norm not the exception; that we need to love our neighbor enough to struggle for them; that we need to trust God and not just fight 'winnable battles'; that we need to give a consistent witness to Jesus Christ; that we must be concerned to vindicate the name of Christ; and that we must give God thanks for all his blessings. Jan/Feb 1998 Theology Matters  p. 11

Think About This: Is the PCUSA Worth Our While? by Julius B. Poppinga, elder in NJ.  Poppinga gives seven reasons why the PCUSA is worth our time and effort to reform. Sep/Oct 1997 Theology Matters p. 13