Among their efforts is identifying the men who their members should not vote for if they are nominated for committees or agencies. For instance, one well known Ruling Elder with a well-earned reputation for faithful service to the Lord and the PCA was recently nominated to serve on the Standing Judicial Commission. In one email the leader of the NP wrote that this brother, “is the primary GRN organizer and agitator, the prime organizing voice against CTS and mover of the Nashville statement. He would be, I cannot stress enough, a disaster for the court.”
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)
It’s been said that politics is like sausage. You don’t want to see it made. Unfortunately, church politics can often be like that as well. This is particularly true when church officers demand secrecy.
On the evening of October 26, I (along with others) was sent a cache of emails exchanged among the leadership of the National Partnership. If you are not familiar with the National Partnership (NP), they are a rather secretive organization operating within the PCA which seeks to shape the denomination according to their vision. For instance, the NP has been enthusiastic in their support of Revoice and other efforts to broaden the doctrinal “tent” of the PCA. You can read a little about the NP Here and Here.
Now, back to the subject at hand. The emails in question run from 2013 to July of this year. They are emails exchanged through a password protected website between the leadership of the National Partnership. They are a window into the political activity of the secretive organization. Why one member of the group decided to make those emails known I do not know. But I was grieved to the heart as I read them. They reveal a level of political maneuvering that can fairly be described as cynical.
Interspersed among the emails is a rather triumphal claim that they, the National Partnership, represent the majority of the PCA. Apart from the party spirit betrayed by such chest beating one must wonder why it is, then, that they must operate under cover of secrecy. I would like to ask any member of the National Partnership if they are troubled by the revelations of non-disclosure agreements that have been employed by churches like Mars Hill? Do they believe it is appropriate to saddle the members of their group with secrecy?
The emails reveal why the NP has had such success in recent years in advancing their agenda. These men are highly organized. Some of them spend hours each week working to influence votes on the presbytery and GA levels. Among their efforts is identifying the men who their members should not vote for if they are nominated for committees or agencies. For instance, one well known Ruling Elder with a well-earned reputation for faithful service to the Lord and the PCA was recently nominated to serve on the Standing Judicial Commission. In one email the leader of the NP wrote that this brother, “is the primary GRN organizer and agitator, the prime organizing voice against CTS and mover of the Nashville statement. He would be, I cannot stress enough, a disaster for the court.”
Not surprisingly, the NP stands in strong opposition to the passage of Overtures 23 and 37 which were approved overwhelmingly at this year’s General Assembly. These clear and necessary overtures are meant to help sessions and presbyteries by providing guidelines for examining the character of candidates for ordination. It goes without saying that the NP’s opposition to these overtures gives insight into their vision for the PCA.
Another troubling feature of these many emails are the number of times the NP’s political leader refers to having “NP representatives” on the various committees and agencies. Please understand the significance of such statements. There is a secretive organization operating within the PCA which has labored to get their “representatives” (those working for NP ends) on PCA committees and agencies. How is this anything other than a party spirit? How is this not divisive? What do the many faithful lay men and women in the PCA think of such strategies? What are we to think of an unaccountable and secretive organization referring to its members as “representatives” of – not the PCA – but of the secretive organization?
Also troubling is the ubiquitous use of terms like “NP churches,” and “NP Presbyteries.” You read that correctly. There are pastors in the PCA who refer to PCA Presbyteries with NP members as “NP Presbyteries.” I wonder what our TE’s and RE’s who do not align with the National Partnership think of the presbytery they faithfully serve as being thought of as belonging to this unaccountable organization? If you understand Presbyterianism this sort of terminology is brazen to say the least. It’s certainly not Presbyterian.