What follows is my letter of resignation from the Presbyterian Church USA in 1990 over what I could see coming in the denomination. It was a prophetic vision anticipating the natural and the inevitable consequence when the opinions of men are elevated above the Word of God. That prophesy has come to full fruition 21 years later as this denomination has fallen into total apostasy with flagrant and boastful violation of the Word of God in sexual immorality.
“By turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly…For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” 2 Peter 2:6,18-21, RSV
October 30. 1990
The Rev. William P. Crooks, Chair
Chair, Committee on Ministry
Trinity Presbyterian Church
110 E. Market St
Mercer, PA 16137
You asked me to send you a letter requesting a change in my status. And I am privileged to respond to you in love and with love for you and for many of my brother pastors here in Shenango Presbytery. I have watched with admiration the devotion and dedication of many fine pastors, who have truly been called by God to work in his vineyard. I have seen the grief in their spirit as they cry over the course our denomination has taken, turning from the Word of God as the authority for matters of faith and practice. They have witnessed, as I have, how human opinion and contemporary cultural values have become as authoritative as scripture in General Assembly decisions and positions; whether that be political or moral. As a result, our debates, which should have the character of godly deliberation, have degenerated into mere political posturing to bring about a majority rule for one side or the other. But God ‘s Truth is not decided by majority vote, but discerned with reverential fear by men seeking the voice of God in His revealed Word.
The fact that we are arguing about things like homosexuality and abortion only reveals how the scripture has lost its place of authority in our denomination. We are arguing about things which should not even be up for discussion, because the Word of God is clear on the matter; but this happens when God’s Word falls into disrepute in religious institutions. And so, our presbytery and Assembly meetings have changed from the intimate worship of God in Spirit and in Truth to one more like a political convention. That is not how it is meant to be. God has called us to Peace (I Corinthians 7:15), not to contention. Therefore, with peace in my spirit, I truly believe the Lord Jesus is calling me out of the denomination.
I have great respect for our history and our heritage as Presbyterians, and it is not without some regret, for I dearly love the fellowship of like-minded, precious brothers who pastor the flocks in their care. I know there are indeed many fine, faithful, and biblical congregations in our presbytery. I have preached at several and visited many, and heard of even more. But the Lord has a different call on my life, and I beg you to respect it and release me with your blessing. Therefore, with malice towards none and respect for all, I submit my resignation from the Presbytery of Shenango, effective this date; believing the Lord has called me to live at peace and to be part of a fellowship where the central matters of the faith, as I see them, are not up for dispute. As a result of the Lord’s leading and call, I joined Living Word Church yesterday night and plan to further pursue the ministry through its oversight and direction.
I would like to leave you with one final concern I have: it is my grief and fear for the denomination as a whole. It says in Psalm 24, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His Holy place? Only he who has clean hands and a pure heart.” And in Isaiah 1, it says, “I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly…when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers. I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean…”
God will not hear us when we pray to him if we do not repent of our evil and wickedness. It is vain to praise him while we walk in compromise. This is what he says in his Word. How then can he bless the denomination when it holds up before him moral compromise on a matter so essential as child sacrifice (abortion)? Will he hear with innocent blood on our hands? Our prayer should be for his mercy. We have no right to ask for his blessing.
In Jesus’ Name,
Jefferis Kent Peterson