Jason explains the process and replies to critics who allege bizarrely that well-ordered church discipline is a “witch hunt.”
The refusal yesterday by the NW Presbytery of the PCA to discipline a minister who deliberately, provocatively, and openly challenged and contradicted God’s Word as confessed by the Reformed Churches serves as a reminder that adopting “pastoral advice” is not enough. The moralists will be back because they never go away. The Nine Points of “pastoral advice” adopted by the URCs were a good start. The URCs are still working on this. Let us hope that the Synodical committee report finishes what was begun at Synod Schereville.
The failure of the NW Presbytery to address this problem, however, reminds us in the URCs that there remain ministers in the NAPARC denominations and federations who continue to advocate the FV even though it has been deliberately considered and roundly rejected by most NAPARC churches.
The action of presbytery yesterday also illustrates the fact that the FV is held only “here and there” in this congregation or that, but that its influence continues be felt significantly beyond the local level. There are pastors in Missouri who continue to advocate the FV and who have yet to face discipline. Pastors in the NW USA have written to me for several years complaining about the effect of the FV movement in their area.
Perhaps more importantly, failures such as these illustrate how frail, in some places, is the commitment to upholding the Reformed confessions on fundamental points of doctrine. Nothing is more basic to Reformed theology than the doctrines of covenant and justification. Calvin called the doctrine of justification “the main hinge” of the Christian faith. J. H. Alsted said that it is the article by which the church stands or falls. It isn’t esoteric. It isn’t arcane. It’s life and death and it’s not as if God’s Word and the Reformed confessions are not crystal clear about what the gospel is and how sinners are right with God. What is less clear, however, is whether there is a will in the NAPARC world to confess the faith and to bring it bear in the courts and assemblies of the churches.