But realistically there are major problems that seem to be swept under the carpet for the time being. As I noted above the recent situation should bring a lot of concern. Whose example are we to follow? Why is the leadership appearing to perform on a level of ineptness that renders confusion and looks more like political wrangling than a Church seeking the Lord’s will?
I am one who wants to conserve Confessional integrity because I believe the Westminster Standards are a wonderful summary of the Holy Scriptures. Anyone who doesn’t want to conserve Confessional integrity wants freedom from them on some level. If that makes them liberal then so be it, I guess.
1. To prevent injury, decay, waste, or loss of
The Confession is a whole document. It is historically tried and truthful in my estimation. I admit there are things that are unclear to me and my Church has a testimony that runs along with it. But it is my whole denomination’s testimony and we confess it. Maybe we are liberal in some ways compared to what others think. The term liberalism is not monolithic in understanding. It definitely needs some attachment to a topic.
There are topics that seem to be more pertinent than others maybe. The first area that concerns most people has to do what they think about the nature of Scripture. The Confession speaks concerning that issue. Another area has to do with God and who he is. The Confession speaks to that issue. I guess we need to discern what issue we are discussing. When it comes to soteriology the Confession is quite clear on that issue, also. While a person may affirm the confessional standards concerning the nature of Scripture and who God is they might not affirm the confessional standard concerning soteriology.
In the Presbyterian Church the integrity of the Westminster Standards is the measuring stick. At what point do we start to label someone liberal? That is a hard question. J. Gresham Machen definitely set a standard and noted that liberalism is not Christianity. I guess I need to reread him and find out where he drew the line maybe. Concerning his libertarianism I might consider him a liberal. I do not believe the Westminster Standards are libertarian.
I have been catching up on some of the Greenbaggins blogs. I normally stay away from it because the commentators seem to speak past each other and it is so disheartening. The recent last few blogs have had to do with the past General Assembly (GA). From appearances and reports even outside of the PCA the last GA looks more like American politics where posturing and heathen tactics are being used than the methods of assembled prayer and seeking God’s face. As I noted, it is starting to look more like heathen godless politics than a Church following Jesus Christ. How is it that this came to be? Whatever happened to the high calling in Christ Jesus and the reverence we are to have for his Kingship?
As sheep we are to consider the conduct of our elders and follow them. Where does this leave the laymen now? According to Hebrews 13 we are to consider the conduct of our elders and follow them. Liberal or not, this can’t be anything the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote that we are to consider the conduct of our elders and follow them. I pray that repentance springs from somewhere. This is too confusing to be from the hand of The Lord. I don’t want to see a situation likened to the past where Moses said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me” (Exodus 32:26). I am saddened in spirit and for our brothers.
I have heard comments that other PCA elders don’t recognize the blog posts on Greenbaggins (concerning the General Assembly) as accurately reporting or assessing what took place..
My reply to this
In all due respect, maybe that is part of the problem. I am not relying on Greenbaggins. As I noted I have been hearing ripples even outside and they aren’t necessarily the bloggers who are of the mind to announce overly harsh criticism. Sure there are plenty of those. There are some solid facts being presented from others that are acknowledging the polity and the results as the things that should have happened per polity. But the discord and maneuvering, as what it is, appears more like political wrangling than looking like a Church that is to seek Christ and adhere to a Standard known as the Westminster Confession of Faith.
It is probably a sad thing that most PCA elders (your words not mine) don’t recognize it as being accurate. I remember when the Federal Vision started raising its head. I was in the PCA then. Most pastors were clueless as to what it was or even if it was a problem and the Doug Wilson books were filling the pew sitter’s libraries as the teaching was. Most PCA pastors are tending to real life issues and working out situations in their congregations. That is hard work. They didn’t have the time nor see the urgency of the situation. They were pastoring (dealing with sinners) and preparing for worship. So they were clueless for a time being. It just seemed like a heresy hunt to some. And I understand that.
All I am trying to say is that I am praying and hope many others are also are praying for a recovery. We have a wonderful set of Standards and they are not silent on these issues. We have God’s word and I know it isn’t silent either. The situation represented by many resembled more of a picture of English Parliament and American politics than it did the picture given to us in Acts 15. Do you at least acknowledge that? Maybe I am wrong. Either way, where is our example?
A Deacon wrote
I was also encouraged to receive an optimistic outlook (by a very sound deacon with whom I have a lot of respect) and to consider the fact that the PCA cannot allow false confessionalism to stand as in the recent cases brought up. Especially concerning baptism, justification, Union with Christ, the visible Church, invisible Church, covenant of works, etc. I was exhorted to see that some people do not believe that there is significant sentiment in the denomination for the contrary views that have been discussed recently.
There was also reason to have hope as we see a very committed man heading Covenant Seminary now. We should also recognize that in Revelation 1-3, most of the types of churches then (and now) have attributes of both commendation and chastisement. most have some struggle with maintaining right doctrine and even those that were apostaticizing sometimes are commended for having a faithful remnant in their midst.
We must careful to protect truth and the good name of our neighbor, especially when broadly assessing the household of faith, and whole communions.
I appreciate your optimism in some respect. At the same time I cringe because of the many issues I have been noticing in the past few years concerning Law / Gospel, Creationism, Communion, Soteriology, etc., are not being dealt with in precise manners. There are many issues that have been discussed and cautioned about. The leading authors in the PCA today are not leading others down the paths that Dr. Sproul and others from the past 30 years were solidly contending for. For instance, I steer my kids and disciples away from some prominent PCA authors. Do I need to name them? Some are very popular right now.
Also when we consider Revelation 1-3 we should note that candlesticks were removed as The Lord promised. That isn’t something we should neglect. There was a reason for their removal. We surely don’t want to see that happen. But realistically there are major problems that seem to be swept under the carpet for the time being. As I noted above the recent situation should bring a lot of concern. Whose example are we to follow? Why is the leadership appearing to perform on a level of ineptness that renders confusion and looks more like political wrangling than a Church seeking the Lord’s will?
I appreciate your optimism but it seems to neglect a lot of the reality. Things are not being dealt with properly on a level it seems it should be. We have a PCA church here in town that has an art museum exhibit as one of its main attractions. It is obviously a model church from one in New York where many strange issues are spewing forth from. The New York Church is touted by many as a model to emulate. This ought not to be in my estimation as I see a lot of confusion and strangeness being spewed forth from that place. There is much to be concerned about. Whose example are we to follow?
I hope this past GA is not one that will be touted as a fine example. Ineptness is what it seems to be marked with. Sure the praise and worship may have seemed to be edifying but I am wondering what the Lord thought of it. I am not going to pretend to know the mind of the Lord concerning how edifying the worship was. If the worship was all that great and uplifting I would have thought that it would have transferred over into the other areas of the General Assembly and it appears it didn’t.
I appreciate your optimism but I am very cautious about it also. There does seem to be something very amiss somewhere.
R. Martin Snyder is a member of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.