Identity Theology in the PCA

The central agitating issues at the recent PCA General Assembly meetings have been related to both race and gender.

This movement in the PCA is what I personally call Identity Theology.  It is a new theological focus on race and gender.  Identity Theology tends to substitute a paradigm of a class-struggle for the paradigm of sin-salvation.  Not that one is mutually exclusive of the other, but the prism though which the sin-salvation motif is viewed becomes the struggle of the classes (race and gender).  It finds its roots in Marxist ideology.  Some call it social justice. It has nearly destroyed the liberal Presbyterian denomination.    

 

As I have read reports of PCA General Assembly meetings in recent years, I am struck that the central agitating issues at the meetings have been related to both race and gender.  Special study committees have been appointed. Conflict over these issues has been intense.

From a positive perspective, it could be said that these are the major issues of our time and the church needs to respond.  The PCA made a statement on abortion when that was the issue of the day. The PCA made a statement on women in the military when the armed services were being pressured by politicians to include women in all the roles of being a soldier.

On the other hand, from a different perspective, these agitation issues could be viewed as the church simply trying to reflect the culture rather than speak to the culture.  They lead and we follow.

Guilt is a motivating factor.  It always is.  We have mistreated the black race as a whole, and we have neglected the women in our churches. These are sins that need to be either confessed or corrected.

In the secular world, this mentality is called Identity Politics.  Once the world recognizes that there are differences among us (economic, race, and gender), and once they recognize that evil white-men have dominated our national institutions for so long, they must make changes to correct our past sins. There must be total equality among all classes of humans, and also there must be the power for everyone to choose their own destiny without restraint, including men who identify as women and vice versa.

It is a common theme now in major universities that our founding fathers were actually rich, white-supremacists seeking to protect their wealth, and thus the reason for the Revolutionary War.  Slavery was one means to guard their prosperity.  All men are created equal, but some men are created more equal than others.  Our founding fathers were hypocrites.

Women as a class have been suppressed since the origins of our nation, and now they are participating in the American Dream just like white males.  Again, white men have run everything from the board-room to the locker-room at the Super Bowl, but no more!  I find it comforting that my talented wife neither wants to sit on the Deacon Board nor read the Scriptures from the pulpit.  She is very happy with her identity.

Of course, another oppressed class is the homosexual.  The PCA Assembly has not yet gravitated to making a statement about the treatment of this group, but in years to come, I would suggest that it will.  The rumblings are already in some PCA congregations.

This movement in the PCA is what I personally call Identity Theology.  It is a new theological focus on race and gender.  Identity Theology tends to substitute a paradigm of a class-struggle for the paradigm of sin-salvation.  Not that one is mutually exclusive of the other, but the prism though which the sin-salvation motif is viewed becomes the struggle of the classes (race and gender).  It finds its roots in Marxist ideology.  Some call it social justice. It has nearly destroyed the liberal Presbyterian denomination.

It may be time to think again about what we are doing. Maybe, we need to proceed with caution, lest we get caught up in this new Identity Theology that actually differs very little from Identity Politics.

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.