And consider also the continuing discussion over women deacons. And what after that? The example of so many churches that have “gone liberal” charts a clear path. Women elders, then women teaching elders, then non-practicing homosexuals, then practicing homosexuals, then John Shelby Spong.
I remember when I joined the PCA, my pastor told me an anecdote. He said when his church was first being built in northwest Arkansas, he phoned a local Baptist pastor to ask some advice on a matter. The Baptist pastor cut him off: “Presbyterian, huh? You’ll be liberal in 20 years!” And he abruptly hung up on my pastor.
That was 15 years ago, and I am beginning to wonder. The latest shock comes in a post from Lane Keister at the blog Green Baggins (h/t Aquila Report):
Debate was rather heated in the PCA General Assembly this year over a motion to include a statement to the effect of saying that the Muslims and the Christians worship the same God. It is usually felt by people who believe this that such a statement can be an effective bridge for evangelism to Muslims. They will also usually state the obvious, that the Arabic word for God is Allah, and so Arabic translations have the word “Allah” in the Bible. Therefore they have the same God that we do.
There are a number of serious problems with this line of reasoning. Firstly, the implication of such a statement is that the Trinity is not central to the Christian idea of God, but is an optional add-on. Folks, are we really willing to say that about the Trinity? That it is optional? I would think Athanasius would be rolling in his grave at the suggestion.
Having glanced at the Report that gave rise to this “debate,” the larger issue is admittedly way more complex that can be represented here. It relates to a larger missiological debate over “Insider Movements”—something like the belief that one can have a relationship with Jesus while remaining culturally something else, say, Muslim.
Whatever the larger issues may be, I can’t see how such a movement will not eventually have to deal with Christian doctrine, and thus issues like Mr. Keister has related will be inevitable.
But is it not a bit startling that some PCA theologians are apparently willing to go so far as to suggest “Muslims and the Christians worship the same God”? If this is accurate, I would be shocked.
But I would not be too shocked. More than one event has happened in the past couple years that has made me wonder whether that Baptist pastor was actually right. These things range from certain doctrinal issues taken by elders, to more personal anecdotes of unbecoming behavior.
On the latter end, I was recently informed of a group of elders’ wives and other women in a PCA church who were enjoying a read through 50 Shades of Grey. For those not in the know, this is porn. When someone questioned whether they should be reading and discussing such stuff, the person was met with defensive derision. Really? Well, perhaps it’s OK, because the lead fornicator is named “Christian.”