Irony & the PCA: The First Fifty Years
Among the most significant accomplishments for the first decade of PCA life were adoption of confessional and constitutional documents.
The conclusion of the 1982 Assembly marked the end of an era of expansion, optimism, and pioneering. Most of those initial leaders would pass on by the time of the half-century mark. Still, the Church had now absorbed an entire denomination with its various agencies, missions, presbyteries, and churches. Most realized that true union was... Continue Reading
A New History of the PCA’s First 50 Years
Several early debates over confessional adherence would grow into later actions that moved away from either the earlier or the presumed view of doctrinal adherence.
What started as a grassroots denomination was still one—but some of that was giving way to bureaucratic impulses. The various proposals by the blue-ribbon Ad Interim Committee to revising church structure (1985-1989) were seldom embraced. However, the inertia of centralization, coupled with a desire for larger size, inevitably drove the PCA toward broadening. Editor’s... Continue Reading
Understanding the Image of God: A Response to Mary L. Conway, “Gender in Creation and Fall”
Conway’s vision of Genesis 1–3 seems to emasculate the good news of God’s kingdom heralded in the first pages of Scripture.
Conway is right that to describe the woman as a helper does not indicate inferiority. She has strengths that match the man’s weaknesses, and vice versa. They will have to work as a team, but this does not rule out the possibility of the man having a primary responsibility or servant leadership in the relationship.... Continue Reading
Why Machen Is Important for the Church Today: A Reflection on Ch. 7 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 2)
Classical liberalism at least maintained some connection between Christ and salvation, more contemporary forms of liberalism have severed that connection.
Given the liberal (members, churches) elements’ abandonment of essential matters, conservative (members, churches) must withdraw. In such cases, the operative framework echoes Paul’s words (2 Cor. 6:14–16): Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or... Continue Reading
Machen on the Church: A Reflection on Ch. 7 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 1)
Machen calls again for liberals to withdraw voluntarily, and for the sake of harmony and cooperation, from evangelical churches.
In the face of the liberal peril, what should evangelicals do? A first step is to “encourage those who are engaging in the intellectual and spiritual struggle” (146–47). The intellectual battle must consist of both articulating and defending Christianity. Against those who focus solely on the propagation aspect, Machen suspects an anti-intellectualism underlying this approach,... Continue Reading
Salvation by God at the Cross of Christ: A Reflection on Chapter 6 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 2)
We should reject adjusting the atonement, sin, and our view of God to meet the tastes or fads of the day, but rather have a clear-eyed focus on sin and the cross as the core of the gospel.
To modify the core message of the gospel in order to receive what we think of as a proper hearing will lead to unfaithfulness. There are temptations within the evangelical church to compromise at the same places where theological liberalism was found defective: the doctrine of sin, character of God, and the accomplishment of the... Continue Reading
Salvation by God at the Cross of Christ: A Reflection on Chapter 6 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 1)
The parting of ways on salvation secures Machen’s thesis that, in fact and by honest assessment, Christianity and theological liberalism are different religions.
Theological liberalism presents not merely a sub-Christian view of salvation but a different conception of it entirely, which depends on and elevates humanity rather than God. Machen sharply contrasts the liberal view of salvation, Christ as example, with Christ as vicarious sufferer in the mode of legal penal substitution. Far from being an arcane and “subtle” theory,... Continue Reading
Your Role in the Bigger Story
We will not know this side of heaven just how much influence we will have had in this life – just how much good we may have done for Christ and the kingdom.
We can do so much even in the mundane things of life. As I have said before, simply walking the dogs can be part of our kingdom-building efforts. When I walk my dog twice daily, I pray for all my neighbours as I walk past their houses. It is likely that only in the next life will I... Continue Reading
Reinterpreting Church History: A Response to Mimi Haddad, “History Matters”
We ought not to read back in time our own novel ideas about men and women derived from a century of complicated social and philosophical upheaval.
Haddad provides little in the way of evidence for her claim that complementarians rarely discuss abuse while egalitarians make it one of their main emphases. One might rather say that egalitarians often make the accusation that complementarianism fosters abuse. Unhappily, the questions for which our own age beg for answers engender little curiosity for egalitarians like... Continue Reading
An Excerpt from “Irony and the Presbyterian Church in America,” An Informed History of the First Half Century of the PCA.
The excerpt: “The 1996 (24th) General Assembly: Without A Vision (Or The Concerned) The People Did Just Fine.”
This book is an informed history of the first half century of a denomination formed in 1973. Other works discuss the events and personalities which led up to the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America, but this one traces the development and history of that church from 1973-2023. This volume benefits from the observations... Continue Reading