A guest post from a PCA Ruling Elder
It is no secret that the Presbyterian Church in America is in turmoil. No one denies the existence of conflict and consternation. Though some consider the strife to be unjustified, even they do not believe the strife will soon cease or be easily resolved.
Let’s cut to the chase and say the quiet part out loud: There may come a time when the Presbyterian Church in America needs to split. But until that time comes it should not splinter.
When you set up your shepherding plan you could not have imagined that your entire congregation would be hunkered-down attempting to stay clear of Covid-19.
These are times in which the flock needs to hear from their shepherds for comfort and assurance. I have urged our elders to put a priority on reaching out to their sheep, especially to those who are especially vulnerable.
I recently received this encouraging email from my friend Ken Jones, Shepherding Pastor at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama:
Everyday Prayer with the Puritans. Donald K. McKim. P&R Publishing, 2021. 136 pp. Hardcover. $15.99.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (Jam. 1:27).
Note: The following is adapted from a letter sent in response to a gracious correspondent who was concerned about Dr. Trueman’s representation of the words of Rev. Greg Johnson. It is published here rather than First Things due to the intramural nature of the matter involved.
Your favorite grumpy, middle-aged pod partners welcome a good friend, and—according to Carl—the mastermind behind the marketing and sales department at Banner of Truth publishing. Pat Daly has been one of the fast-moving wheels at Banner for quite some time, but—this coming summer—he’ll assume the duties of a vice president at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Before he departs, Pat talks about the current state of Christian publishing and his encouraging view of its future, particularly in Reformed circles.
Keeping up with all that’s happening in the evangelical world is a real challenge! Today our intrepid hosts tackle one of the latest examples of dysfunction at the intersection of church and culture. This week’s head-shaker comes courtesy of Life Church, pastored by Craig Groeschel. It’s the newest, super-cool, and innovative approach to “doing church”: the metaverse. Yes, it’s virtual reality (VR) church, where one can “worship” from the comfort of home wearing jammies and goggles while being represented in the “sanctuary” by a personal graphic avatar.
Many consider the Westminster Standards an excellent summary of Reformed theology. At first glance, however, it appears that this legacy of 17th-century Puritanism has little to say about union with Christ. Do the Standards downplay the precious truth that we are in Christ? Or is there perhaps more in these documents than meets the eye?
Overview of Union in the Standards
Calvin's sensitivity to the different circumstances in which people live lead him to flip-flop, or at least to be somewhat ambivalent in his attitude to the magistrate. Citing the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27), Scripture requires obedience to bad kings, and even to pray for the well being of the country of exile (Jer.29). No doubt Calvin has his own city of exile, Geneva, in mind. But should not rulers, who also have responsibilities, be kept on track? Yes, but not by ourselves, but by Almighty God. This leads to discussion of the vexed question of civil disobedience.
No doubt having the Anabaptists in mind, and having already defended the right to litigate, Calvin proceeds to defend the entire judicial process. He discourages using the law for the taking of revenge, but upholds the use of due process, 'through which God may work for our good'. (It is interesting that in his teaching Calvin primarily seems to have mind not Geneva, which by this time in his career he believed was governed along right lines, but countries where the law may remain hostile to evangelical Christianity).