A Plea to My Fellow PCA Pastors
I am a convert to Presbyterianism. I came running from the vague and confusing world of broad evangelicalism. For several years prior to my taking vows in the PCA I, like so many of you, read quite a bit about the history of Presbyterianism in the United States. One of the things we know from the history of Presbyterianism and of all Christian denominations is that liberalism comes easy. It seems to be the natural drift of all denominations, seminaries, and churches unless deliberate measures are taken to ensure confessional fidelity. Faithfulness to confessional standards requires effort and discipline.
The PCA was formed precisely because the Presbyterian Church (US) had drifted far from Scripture and Reformed confessional standards. Could it be that the PCA is facing in the not too distant future a similar crisis?
Don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that the PCA is in the same shape as the PC(US) in the 1960’s and 70’s. That would be an egregious overstatement. The problem however is that denominations, if they act at all against the drift into liberalism, seem to always act too late. I once asked a faculty member at a confessional seminary about a crisis they faced in the recent past. My question was, “How did the conservatives at the seminary allow the place to begin drifting into liberalism?” His answer was illuminating. He said, “Conservatives, in these situations, are always playing catch up because they just assume people will stay true to their vows and not organize to change the institution. By the time the conservatives notice that a serious drift has occurred,” he explained, “it is often too late.”
I understand that not everyone desires to be a minister in a Christian denomination that holds to the Westminster Standards and Book of Church Order (PCA). I understand that some men want to serve in an Anglican communion. They appreciate the doctrine and practices of Anglicanism. Others desire to hold to the Westminster Standards but they believe that women ought to be ordained to church office. Perhaps they believe it is time for the church to reconsider what it has always believed about homosexuality. What I do not understand is why such brothers took sacred vows to serve in the PCA.
If you love Anglicanism by all means be an Anglican. I know some wonderful Anglican brothers and sisters. If you desire to ordain women then transfer to the EPC or RCA. They will happily allow you to do that. But out of respect for the sacred vows you took, your fellow presbyters, and the flock you oversee do not seek to change the PCA into something it is not.
I offer these words without tooth or claw. I am not shouting. But I am dismayed. In the nearly four years I have been a Teaching Elder in the PCA I have seen, read, and heard no small measure of sermons, articles, practices, and pleas which directly conflict with our confessional standards (It was acknowledged from the floor of the 2016 General Assembly, from a sympathetic voice, that many of our churches are not in alignment with the BCO regarding women in ministry). I am alarmed by the growing fascination in the PCA with what seems to be a new awakening of the social gospel which has only ever ended in apostasy.
Like all of you I desperately desire for the PCA to remain faithful rather than to end up on the garbage heap of protestant liberalism. So let us renew our knowledge of and commitment to the Standards to which we took sacred vows. And if you find that you no longer hold to the Westminster Standards and the Book of Church Order then do the right thing.