We became acquainted with Elizabeth Achtemier, the Presbyterian minister and denominational leader, not personally but through our many years of attending the Christian Life Conference in Montreat. Now deceased, she was the sort of solid, orthodox person who helped maintain the backbone of the fading PC(USA). Her son, Mark, another PC(USA) minister and a teacher at Dubuque seminary, seemed to be similarly orthodox and to give some hope for the future of the denomination. But in 2009, the Presbterian Outlook celebrated his "surprising" affirmation of the legitimacy of the homosexual alternative in an article that included the following:
Mark Achtemeier, an evangelical theology professor from Iowa, is in many ways an unlikely candidate for radical change. He’s a white, middle-aged Presbyterian father and husband who grew up in the church, the son of Biblical scholars.
But Achtemeier, to his own surprise, has made a trek through uncertain land over the last eight years, a journey from life-long certainty that homosexuality is “a kind of destructive addiction” to what he is today: a man who sees the Holy Spirit leading the church to “a new and better place,” and who thinks that gays and lesbians should be able to marry and be ordained.
In the kick-off plenary of the 2009 Covenant Network of Presbyterians meeting last month, Achtemeier gave his testimony, telling the story of his journey in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), from a man who grew up sure that homosexual practice was wrong to one who now sees God working in the committed relationships of his gay and lesbian friends and in the faithfulness of their lives.
Yet some things have not changed.
“If there is one thing I want to emphasize above all else in this testimony, it is that this journey has not involved any kind of retreat or qualification of my strong commitment to the authority of Scripture, the Lordship of Christ, and the belief that God calls people to lives of personal holiness,” Achtemeier told the Covenant Network. “I come to you today as an out, self-affirming, practicing conservative evangelical.”
But Achtemeier, who was a member of the PC(USA)’s Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church — told of a journey both personal and theological, and to him deeply surprising.
“I cannot get around the fact that it was a God thing,” he said during a question-and-answer period.
This morning the Sun-Sentinel ran in its print edition, an article published yesterday in the LA times, under the headline "Presbyterian Church to Ordain First Openly Gay Minister." The article states in part:
[T]oday, [Mark] Achtemeier will deliver a sermon at the ordination of his friend, Scott Anderson, who will become the first openly gay minister in the church after the very restrictions Achtemeier once advocated were abolished.
In July, the Presbyterian Church USA amended its constitution to allow gay and lesbians to serve as ministers and lay leaders. With the move, the 2.3 million-member church became the fourth mainline Protestant denomination to allow gay ordination, following the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches and the United Church of Christ.
I checked Google News and found that the LA Times article is being republished by newspapers across the country. The left has anointed a poster-child for PC(USA) ordination and it is not the person being ordained by a commission that includes Mark Achtemeier. It is Achtemeier himself. This diabolical strategy (a phrase I use advisedly) seeks to replicate Achtimeier's "journey" or transition from a middle-class, white, cradle Presbyterian, and Orthodox believer to something else again.