On Sunday, July 3, to the surprise of no one who watches these things closely, the United Church of Christ became the largest Christian denomination in the United States to fully and openly endorse same-sex marriage. The action came about through the recommendation of about 80% of the General Synod voting favorably for the decision. On Sunday a panel of about 50 UCC representatives then approved the resolution of the General Synod.

This decision has been coming for years. The UCC long ago departed from any meaningful expression of orthodoxy. Those who believe the gospel within her borders have been faithfully protesting these directions for years. These evangelicals will now face even more difficult challenges as they decide what is required of them in the face of this denominational apostasy. Because the UCC is congregational in government individual congregations will not be required to endorse this decision or to follow the counsel of the General Synod. Many will continue to withhold support for the UCC while they battle from inside the structure of their fallen church. Others will finally decide to leave after forty years of faithful protest.

The UCC came about in 1957 as a union of several historic churches, including the old Congregational churches of early American history and the German Reformed churches. In principle the UCC had a great future in the 1950s but the impact of liberalism has now virtually assured that it will never recover orthodoxy, at least not in anyone’s present lifetime. My friends in the UCC have often referred to it, humorously, as Unitarians Considering Christ (UCC). Sadly, this is all but true now.

Who will be next? The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), a much larger and more influential church body, is on a similar path, while the United Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) is not too far behind. Significant opposition exists in both churches but the ELCA is seriously wavering. It may be that the Protestant mainline will finally become the Protestant sideline if these trends continue. Some think this is already the case and more time will likely prove it to be so.

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  1. Gene Redlin July 6, 2005 at 9:11 am

    This kind of delusion is directly from the father of lies. There’s nothing Christ- like in it at all. This pacifies a sector of society who blindly lives in their sin without any reproach. It breaks my heart. I have many relatives in the ELCA. They buy the lie. The thing we now must pray for is the total destruction of these Babylonian towers of Babel. Help people get out of these fellowships. Get them to the point of trusting Jesus and not their Church for wholeness. I can’t help but reflect on the contrast between the Whore Church and the True Church in Revelations. Maybe more when Daniel talking of the antichrist says he will not show regard for the desire of women Daniel 11:37. I know many modern translations say something else. Is it possible they are wrong? Is the spirit of Homosexuality an antichrist spirit? Is that spirit now trying a frontal attack in our churches with weak in the Bible leadership? Just asking.

  2. Lee July 7, 2005 at 12:03 am

    I disagree that the UCC ever had a bright future. It was doomed the minute it was formed. The ecumenical movement does not create large doctrinally sound churches; it creates large liberal churches. The old German Reformed Church and the Congregational churches that formed the UCC had to flush the historic creeds in order to get together, thus undermining any standard of theology. The PCUSA is another example of ecumenical merging of the northern church and the southern church to create a large, liberal denomination across America. When we consider that the leftover Germans who did not follow the mergers into the UCC now constitute the most doctrinally conservative church in America, the conclusion seems inevitable: ecumenicity leads to liberalism.

  3. Rich Vincent July 9, 2005 at 11:36 am

    No particular offense intended, but is it any wonder that Christians are labeled as homo-phobic and divisive in light of the spirit of the posts above?

  4. Gene Redlin July 11, 2005 at 8:55 am

    Homo-Phobic? Fear of? No. Accepting in church leadership? NO. Endorsing antibiblical marriage? NO.
    I looked at your website.
    Where do you take a position that says, here I stand, I can do no other?
    You will have to decide.
    Straddling the fence under the guise of grace and love means you stand for nothing.
    See the certitude discussion on Johns blog below. Wasn’t Jesus pretty divisive?
    I won’t even quote scripture, you already know the answer to that one.

  5. David Pratt March 26, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    You assume “orthodox” and a literal and selective interpretation of the Bible is right, and “liberal” is wrong. You also foolishly assume that size, numbers, growth somehow demonstrates you are right, as if minority views are inherently wrong. The majority of American’s don’t go to church, so are they right?
    Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality that we know of. By proclaiming a narrow view of the gospel, and casting what you don’t understand or personally approve of as sinful you count yourself holy and claim to know the mind of God. You can feel good, believing sinners will burn in hell, but look what happens when bigots and haters grab the levers of power: Darfur, Bosnia, Buchenwald.
    The UCC welcomes gay people, just as Jesus would. Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, but you wouldn’t allow a gay couple to sit in your pews. Shame on you.
    You are not humble, because you are convinced you know it all. Humility is discernment.

  6. John H. Armstrong March 28, 2007 at 7:45 am

    I do not “know it all” and never pretended to know it all. You judge me falsely. What I do know well is that the Christian Church has universally, without equivocation, stood against sexual misconduct of all types, for 20 centuries. If you read the early church writers you will see a universal and consistent witness on this point. All attempts to make homosexual practice normative not only fail the test of what orthodoxy is about but they fail a rigorous exegetical method which would prove your conclusions wrong. If you are open to studying this carefully please read the work of Robert Gagnon, a leading Christian scholar who has shown this powerfully.

  7. Kevin Woosley March 29, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Mr. Armstrong:
    You and I have at least one common aquaintance who faithfully serves Christ under the assumption that you are wrong about the ability to return the UCC to othodox belief. I would agree that the situation is grim and disheartening. Fortunately we live in a time that welcomes rapid change AND have a God who can work miracles.

  8. John H. Armstrong March 29, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    I did not say the UCC could not return to orthodoxy. I do not have that ability to know what God might do. And I do not call people to leave the UCC as the Lord rules over the conscience in such matters. I simply noted that the UCC headquarters leadership is not orthodox and there is no present evidence that they are moving in that direction. Frankly, God may blow us away with change if and when His Spirit moves again in power across our many churches. I support, as you well know, all those who love the gospel in the UCC, and there are still more such individuals than most people realize.

  9. Kevin Woosley March 30, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    My understanding has always been that you are a great supporter of orthodox individuals and the ministries God has placed them in within the UCC, so perhaps I shouldn’t have assumed that your statement, “In principle the UCC had a great future in the 1950s but the impact of liberalism has now virtually assured that it will never recover orthodoxy, at least not in anyone’s present lifetime.”, didn’t intend to sound as much like a funeral knell as it came across to me. I appreciate the support and teaching you have offered to the faithful that I love, even if I don’t always agree with your tone or conclusions. We used to hear at Moody Bible Institute that “iron sharpens iron”, and I think that intellectual byplay of the faithful, with Christ at the center, is an example of that.

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