Grief, Confession, and Prayer for Peace
I hate fighting and I hate controversy. Truly. I much prefer peace and harmony. Peace is easier than fighting and I sleep better at night. More importantly, peace between brothers in Christ honors the Lord and adorns the gospel. But sometimes controversy comes to you and you find no other option but to enter the fray. Such has been my experience in the last several weeks with the release of 8 years of emails between the leadership of the National Partnership. Like so many, I was grieved by the political maneuvering and “us versus them” language found throughout. That grief has been met with dismay as denials persist that the National Partnership even has members or encourages people to vote in any particular way. I simply cannot understand these continued denials given what we now so clearly know.
I confess to feeling dirty over the last number of days, much of which is due to my own sin. It’s the feeling I get whenever a battle – no matter how necessary – must be fought. I think the source of that feeling comes from the fact that no matter how righteous the cause, I remain a sinner. And it seems like few things can aggravate my own sin like the heat of battle. In such times righteous dismay quickly gives way to sinful anger. The communion of saints is replaced with competition. As a result, I have spent no small amount of time repenting in these days. At times I find myself sliding into sinful attitudes within moments of grieving those very same attitudes. God have mercy!
Just as, by God’s grace, I continue to examine my heart and repent as best I know how of the sin I find present there, I hope my brothers in the National Partnership and those rushing to their defense will carefully consider why so many men and women in the PCA are vexed over what was revealed in the recently released emails. I would urge them to consider whether their methodology and secrecy best serves the peace and purity of our beloved denomination. I would ask them to consider whether their responses to their detractors has been one of love.
Again, I’m doing my best to not point a hypocritical finger. I truly hope to be more offended by my own sin than that of anyone else. And I pledge to strive with all the strength God gives me to do just that. But I plead with the members and defenders of the National Partnership to prayerfully consider whether the dismay and indignation over what has come to light has validity. I urge you to ask whether you have helped create a party spirit within the PCA. I urge you to consider whether your secrecy has been good for the peace and purity of the church.
To the members of the National Partnership I say this: As far as I know my own heart, which I understand has a great capacity for deceitfulness, I do not consider you to be my enemies. We are brothers and we tend to fight like only brothers can. In the past — even up to recent months — I have had cordial correspondence with some of you and those who are aligned with your purposes.
We have significant differences on, for instance, what ought to be the breadth of good faith subscription. Obviously, we differ also over the theology of Revoice and Side B homosexuality. And, as is clear right now, we differ over the needfulness of Overtures 23 and 37. These differences are not frivolous. They are substantive matters. And it may be that the things which separate us to are too great a chasm to bridge. We must be realistic. But we should only come to that conclusion after we fight a mighty battle for unity.
If you are a member of the National Partnership or consider yourself to be aligned closely with them, you are welcome to contact me any time if you are interested in working toward that goal. I will answer without tooth or claw. If there is to finally be a divide between us let it not be because we did not try with all reasonable efforts to avoid it.
Todd Pruitt is Lead Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, VA, and co-host of the Mortification of Spin podcast.