One of the common themes in the book of Daniel is the calling for God's people to resist every temptation to compromise our faith and practice. Like the Borg in Star Trek, the world tells us that "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." But Daniel shows us again and again that resistance is not futile, assimilation is not inevitable, and although suffering and difficulty may come, those who continue to resist will "stand firm" (11:32); they will "be refined, purified, and made white" (11:35); and they will "shine... like the stars forever and ever" (12:3). There are many ways to faithfully resist. We resist when we put to death sin in our own lives (Col. 3:5). We resist when we speak against the open promotion and practice of evil and wickedness. We resist when we speak the gospel, love our enemies, and endure wrongs against us. And, we resist when we refuse to bow to the world's powers and authorities on matters of faith and practice.
A few weeks ago the PCA's Pittsburgh Presbytery found itself on the front lines of this resistance movement. We recently learned that one of our military chaplains is sometimes asked or commanded to compromise his faith and practice. He is sometimes commanded to participate in inter-faith worship services. He is sometimes directed specifically to not pray in Jesus' name. He refuses to obey the civil authorities on these matters, and our presbytery stood behind him with the following resolution:
Resolved to adopt the following statement about public prayer offered by ministers of this Presbytery, whether serving as Pastors or Chaplains, or in some other capacity:
Whereas Almighty God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left the conscience free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are contrary to, or in matters of faith and worship, in addition to his Word (WCF 19:2), and whereas civil government ought not, in the least, to interfere in matters of faith (WCF 23:30), and whereas the Constitution of the United States of America states that "congress shall make no law... prohibiting the free exercise" of religion, We, Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, affirm that every citizen, whether as private citizen or public servant, is free to pray as his conscience directs, and that no authority lawfully exists with any branch or agency of the Federal Government to limit or forbid such prayer.
And, further, whereas Jesus Christ alone is the mediator between God and men (WCF 8:1, 21:2), and that every minister of this Presbytery, by his own vow, has bound himself to pray only under the authority and mediation of Jesus, we affirm the duty of every minister to pray publicly in such a manner and with such wording as satisfies his conscience that he is praying under the sole mediation of Jesus Christ, and we deny that any governmental authority can of right constitutionally forbid prayer offered in the name of Jesus Christ, or restrain a minister or citizen from so praying for any reason whatsoever.
In issuing this statement we have said that we will not bow to the world's powers and authorities on matters of faith and practice. It was an encouraging day to be a member of Christ's church, the greatest resistance movement this world has ever known. Resistance is not futile.