Restoration vs. Reformation? ... Of what?

posted May 15, 2009, 7:15 PM by Charles Adams   [ updated Dec 1, 2015, 4:28 AM by Melanie Adams ]
Charles the Elder
(To be continued)
While this colloquy is being first drafted for this "Presbyterian" church website "dedicated" to Controversial Bible Issues, it's actually written -- (without the idiosyncratic Presbyterian
customization) -- for every or any "Protestant" WebSite where open discussion of important issues is welcomed.  Indeed even within Catholic Churches that are successors to the Counter Reformation, (Perhaps even Eastern -- and Western? -- ) Orthodox Churches which from time to time seek to "reform" themselves to restore or renew themselves to the "original" -- or Apostolic" -- "Way of Yeshua[Jesus]", which in Hebrew might better be called The Way of Yeshua, (since Yeshua, or Y'shua is the Hebrew name of Jesus [H]), which means Salvation, or Salvation of Yah/God or perhaps God Saves and "The Way" in Hebrew is [H]. It might even better be called [H]  Ha-Sharia vHa-Yah'shua, [H], (which incidentally is "exactly the same" in the Arabic "Sharia al-Assah" [A]).
Since any discussion needs "concreteness" -- not vacuous words of speculation -- If you are not "Presbyterian", please forgive my initial "customized" example that uses the Presbyterian Church as an example of WWW -- not the World Wide Web -- but What Went Wrong, -- and is or may be still wrong -- and seemingly all the historic efforts to reform or restore the "invisible unity of the Body of Christ".  (But even if your are not Presbyterian, that means you may still be part of visible  or invisible Body of Christ or both!  Most likely!)  Since we have to start somewhere, let's start with the present blue paperback "Rule Book" of, say, the PC(USA).

The Presbyterian Book of Order -- :"The Rule Book" for most Presbyterians (functioning very loosely similar to the Talmud/Shumash, or Commentary, for Jews or Shariah, the Way, for Muslims).  Some say the Presbyterian BO, Book of Order, Book 2 morphed from French-speaking, Latin Writing Swiss Jean Cauvin's [ne John Calvin's] Institutes of the Christian Religion, sets the guidelines
for "Denominational Orthodoxy" and is in a state of P5 Perpetual Polishing and Pugnacious and Pusillanimous Perfecting.  This PBO2 is a necessary companion to the Presbyterian BC, Book of Confessions, Book 1, which is another book most Presbyterians don't possess, see or read, -- although from time to time may also generate more heat than light, should someone perchance stumble across it, scan a few pages and find something with which to disagree; then introduce it to an already existing SIG, Special Interest Group, (or form a new SIG) -- as is the case with sections PBO2, e.g. section [] and section [].

Reformed, always Reforming

In PBO2, the phrase "Reformed, always Reforming" is so honored that it appears not once, but twice, once in English and once in Latin -- Latin, the language of all five versions of "Calvin's Institutes", the 5th of which is almost 5 times larger than the first.   (The first "Institutes" of which in 1536 was in its preface addressed to King Francis I of France, written on behalf of the French Protestants (Huguenots?) who were being persecuted).  But think about it.   Doesn't the phrase sound a bit rudderless?  "Always reforming?"  Why don't we get it right, then stick with it?  After 500 years?
What if...what if instead of "protest [against]" the corruption, both spiritual AND earthly,
of the "visible universal" church, and their unsuccessful efforts to "reform" that church universal (read Catholic), the reforming protestants had sought -- as the Anabaptist did -- to "restore" the original Apostolic Way of Yeshua of the original followers of "The Way of Salvation" of the Jewish Prince of Peace, Sar Shalom, Yeshua the Anointed One, the Messiah of Israel, yes, Yeshua ben-David ben Abaraham ben Adam, as largely revealed through the 4 Jewish authors of the first 4 Jewish Gospels and the Letters of the ben-Yahmanite Jewish Rabbi Ravi Sha'ul, a Pharisee of Pararisees of the School of Gamaliel -- popularly known by his deJudiazed "English-Christian" name Paul -- and the other (mostly, if not all, Jewish) writers of the other "Epistles" that make up the "New Covenant" -- which should have taken its title name from words of Jeremiah 31:31 "The time is coming," declares the File:YHWH.png, "when I will make a new Testament? -- NO! with the eclicia/church? NO!  "when I will cut a new covenant  with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."

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Has the Presbytery of Philadelphia outlived its usefulness, perhaps recently, if not a long time ago?

Or, is there still hope for a Resurrection in a radically New (if not Glorified?) Body, that is relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow?

The corpus of Presbytery of Philadelphia may not have yet have won and been presented with its "Calvin" as the worst Presbytery in North America -- (after all the competition seem pretty keen); but considering the near perfect match of so many of it many once filled Churches to T.S. Eliott's Straw Man -- "not with a bang, but with a whimper," -- (need I publish here a table of the average church service attendance this 1st quarter of 2010 now swiftly closing with like attendance 10, 20 and 30 years ago?)  of all the Presby churches not yet closed -- just to take one "Presby Metric" -- with an equal number of high-performing congregations in the visible "Body of Christ," what would one detect?  [More...]

Instead, I'll just use the figures from one of my favorite "Philly Presby pubs" from half a century ago on a Google Map to document where the Presbytery came from and then document below, perhaps also out of sight in [more...], where many of our church buildings are "thriving" now that the Presbytery is no longer "shepherding" them.  [Still more...]

But these cold mathematical tables, of course, have little or no meaning to us Americans who are not only dumbed down in general, but especially dumbed down in Math, so I'll switch to other criteria more meaningful, perhaps less quantitative, in the Googleized world of the Internet, YouTube, Flickr, Tweeter, and  FaceBook etc.

Who is the "face" of Presbyterianism in the Philadelphia Presbytery, where []% of the population of people of color ?

Blessedly, the former "face" of the gimpy (sorry for being politically incorrect  in referring to a "challenge" not a handicap) Executive Presbyter, (but it was his intellectual challenge that disturbed me most), is gone, but who will a new face -- or better yet faces -- be any better?  [Obviously, at the nadir it must get better, but how?]