At a time when Biblically faithful colleges and seminaries are under incredible pressure to conform to this world just to survive, it is vital that we do not compromise the truth and morality of the Christian faith.
As part of my duties as president of our denominational seminary, over the last month I attended the national meetings of several NAPARC churches. I participated in my own denomination’s synod meetings (RPCNA) in Indiana, spent two days in St. Louis, Missouri at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and just came back this weekend from a quick trip to Iowa to visit brothers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). Having fellowship with not only brothers and sisters of these churches, but folks from many other denominations who also had representatives in attendance at these meetings, was a true highlight of the time, a taste of the greater kingdom of God.
Of course, there are some marked differences in these meetings. The PCA is much larger than the OPC and especially the RPCNA, with nearly 2000 churches and 400,000 members. The PCA General Assembly had thousands in attendance, and used the Convention Center in downtown St. Louis for its meetings. I told some of my OPC brothers I felt a bit more at home with them. For both our assemblies met on Christian college campuses in the middle of cornfields where, if the wind blows just right, you can smell the cows.
Each of these assemblies, meeting once again after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid virus, faced difficult matters. Yet none was as prominent and concerning as the chief issue before the PCA this year. For several communications were before this assembly to address a progressive movement in the church that is seeking to allow ministers and members to identify themselves as gay Christians, in what is often deemed Side B Christianity (see our “Side C Christianity” podcast on 3GT for a verbal report). What I desire to draw your attention to and address in this post is the excellent analysis by Carl Trueman at First Things entitled “At the PCA General Assembly, the Little Guys Stood Up.”
Dr. Trueman highlights how the PCA GA took a strong stand against Side B Christianity that surprised many. He points out how the number of commissioners present at the PCA GA swelled (around 40% greater than typical years) because ruling elders and small church pastors made the effort to attend.
Encouragingly, it is now clear that rumors of the PCA’s proximity to the PCUSA on the key issues of our day have been greatly exaggerated. Less encouragingly, it is equally clear that the PCA elites are out of touch with the denomination’s grass roots…
In the last few days, I have spoken to a number of GA commissioners. They seem to agree that at the GA, “the little guys stood up” (to quote one commissioner verbatim). Ruling elders—commissioners who are not professional clergy and who live in the real world—turned out in force. Small churches scrimped and saved to send their pastors. The big urban churches, even with the social media savvy and the careful organization of the National Partnership (that most un-Presbyterian of things—a lobby group that operates outside the courts of the church), were beaten by the votes of culturally anonymous and culturally inconsequential congregations. And, to quote said commissioner again, the PCA voted to uphold the Christian sexual morality of the last two millennia, rather than that of merely the last two decades. The world will not thank them for it. But those of us in smaller sister denominations do.