And that’s not all.
According to an article he wrote in Presbyterian Voices for Justice [Network News – Fall 2015], he thinks the Presbyterian Church needs to do away with most traditional Christian doctrine:
“I think our theology is still in the 17th century while we live in the 21st century. The dogmas of our religious heritage do not meet the challenges of the world presented to us by science and by social science. All of the beliefs we are supposed to affirm such as Creation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection of the body of Jesus, miracles, original sin, atonement, heaven and hell, and a supernatural interventionist god called God are metaphors. At least that’s what I think. I also think many church members and teaching elders think like I do even as for various reasons they are not able to say it clearly.
“What is important is not to prop up a “belief system” that was created in a pre-modern world. What is important is what we do. We are a great denomination in terms of its commitment to social justice, eco-justice, and peacemaking. I hope that will still be the will of the PC(USA) when the dust settles. But we do need to talk about the belief part. The cool stuff that we religious professionals learned in seminary such as historical criticism of the Bible and liberation theology, the stuff that rarely made it from pulpit to pew, is now easily available on our smart phones. The jig is up. If we surveyed our youth groups we might find that a good number of our high school students are atheists. They know the age of the universe. They have learned evolutionary theory. If the choice is between the amazing world that science is showing us and Sunday School religion that includes belief in the dogmas I listed above, well, the choice is clear. As our moderator said, “the rapid change in the world around us…has put the Church’s relevance (not just the PCUSA but the entire church) in question.”
“I am not suggesting that people need to believe as I do. We need more than ever the freedom to explore these exciting questions in the context of church. I suggest a reform is in order in a practical matter regarding ordination questions. They are used far too often as a threat and as a 5 Network News Fall 2015 tool for bullying. Simplistically, they are viewed as affirming a box of beliefs. As such, they are obstacles to people who want to participate in the life of the church, but think they have to believe a bunch of impossible things and affirm them before a crowd. Because of this confusion over dated language, we lose people who we need to work on the important issues of justice.
I vote we skip the first four questions or reword them in such as way that they cannot be used to make people deny what we know about science and historical criticism of the Bible. The promise I make at ordination and installation whenever I say “yes” to the questions is to honor the tradition and to be ethical. That is really the point. Be a good minister, elder, or deacon and “serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.” That last question is the one that most people answer with gusto, “I do!” The dogmatic questions? Not so much gusto. I love the Bible and Jesus, but the supernatural foundation for them is becoming less and less credible for more and more people.
On a broader level, I think we should see our confessions and the Bible as testimonies to faith not tests of faith. It is where we were, but now we need to redefine ourselves for the challenges ahead. The world we live in now demands a theological upgrade, not simply a re-packaging of old beliefs.”
In case you’re wondering which four ordination questions he’s referring to:
- a. Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
- b. Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?
- c. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?
- d. Will you fulfill your ministry in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture, and be continually guided by our confessions?”
As Paul Kincaid points out in The Layman, Shuck had to re-affirm those ordination vows recently. In light of his printed views on these doctrines, it means he lied. If his denomination had any sense of responsibility to God at all, they would defrock this imposter.