A break up of the denominational continent would forces churches to ask, “who should we be? What do we want our denomination to be know for?” For most of us it is easier to look back and say, “this is what we were about”, rather to look forward and say this is what we want to be about. Each of the new denominations would look slightly different and it would give local churches the chance to say who do we best fit with, and whom do we best partner with in our local ministry.
Could a split the best thing for the PCA? I know this is a question that won’t get me elected moderator, but maybe it’s one that more leaders in the PCA should be considering.
While immediately many people will begin rummaging for reasons why the answer to my question is, “no”, let me do three things. First let me suggest what kind of partitioning I have in mind. Second, let us look at some of the problems that we have in our current form. Finally we can consider some of the benefits of an intentional split. What kind of partitioning are we talking about? Well let’s consider that there are several large tribes in the PCA, some smaller or larger than others. It it easy to compose several equally fitting ways to partition the denomination (culture, location, philosophy of ministry), but instead of doing that, lets simply talk about three or four similarly sized partitions.
An intentional partitioning would recognize and allow the competing identities we see in the PCA to grow along each side each other, rather than bite against each other.
Division rightfully leaves a bad taste in our mouths, and too often it has been done with great sadness. But what I am proposing is not a, “purge the evil from your midst” attitude. It’s not even an, “I’m going to take my ball and go home” attitude. What I’m suggesting is a peaceful and equitable separation, that emphasizes cooperation and support afterward, rather than shouts of, “good riddance.” What I’m suggesting is a family of brothers moving into their own homes, while staying in the same town. We are not talking about a divorce.
First it seems obvious that our current structure and theological positions are not likely to move very much. A line here, a sentence there, but that’s about it. Many people are happy where the lines have landed, but many others seem to be frustrated by this stalemate. Some are even frustrated enough to say things like: “conservatives clearly cannot affect [change] in any meaningful way.”
Others are frustrated enough to simply slip away from the denomination. Each year the match goes back and forth. Each side is both optimistic and stifled. The same men who cheer the defeat of one overture, hang their heads low at the adoption of the next. This pattern repeats itself time and time again, and the reality seems to be that no one group in the PCA is able to shake the tree hard enough to knock the others out.