A growing number of our ministers and churches are conforming to the world’s values, attitudes, and ideals, especially as it concerns homosexuality and the social gospel. The future doesn’t look good for the PCA. Frankly, the future looks pretty bad, and I’m not alone in my assessment. Far from it. A considerable number of respected leaders inside and outside the PCA have expressed similar sentiments. Indeed, many are asking, “What’s going on in the PCA?”
It doesn’t take a theologian or a church historian to recognize that many of our churches are headed in a wrong direction. The steady growth of theological progressivism is as obvious as it is troubling. Progressivism is a fast-moving slippery slope in the PCA, ultimately leading to the idolatrous mire of theological liberalism; yes, the kind of theological liberalism found in the remnants of the denomination that we left in 1973. Theological liberalism is where our current progressive trends will lead us if left unchecked in our church courts. It’s happened before, and we are fools to think that it cannot or will not happen again—even in our beloved PCA.
Over the years I’ve listened to many senior saints from America and Scotland describe their (former) mainline denomination’s lamentable slide into theological liberalism. The stories sounded eerily familiar. They recounted how a pervasive and dominant cultural hermeneutic overshadowed the pulpits, and how a form of hyper-contextualization undermined the mission of the church. Plain biblical preaching, teaching, and discipleship were viewed as inadequate, out of touch, and irrelevant. The new paths of ministry replaced the old and worn paths. The primary question in the minds of ministers was not “What does the Bible say?”; but rather, “What will the people think?” Pastors were reluctant to speak forthrightly about controversial doctrine that could damage the church’s credibility in the culture. They were embarrassed by the Bible’s teaching on gender roles, ordination, human sexuality, abortion, and eternal damnation in hell. Is history repeating itself in the PCA? I hope not. But many are afraid that it is.
Unless the PCA—from her pulpits and courts—decides not to conform to unbiblical views on human sexuality, social justice, and critical theory, it will be impossible to avoid a denominational split. The inescapable fact is that confessional Presbyterianism and theological progressivism make terrible roommates. While they share many common beliefs and goals, living in the same household is not a long-term and viable option.
… How should PCA pastors, elders, and churches respond to rising tide of theological progressivism in the PCA? How should we respond, in particular, to the erroneous views of Side B gay, celibate Christianity?
The first thing we must do is pray. We must cry out to God for His Word and Spirit to foster biblical conviction in our hearts, and a modern Reformation in our churches. We must pray for a clear return to the old paths of gospel ministry and discipleship, even as cultural pressures increase. We must pray for stronger faith in the sufficiency of the gospel to transform our lives, and liberate us from any notions of a settled lifestyle of sin. We must pray for a renewed confidence in the ordinary means of grace—powerful preaching, faithful administration of the sacraments, and blood-earnest prayer—to mortify the sin that remains in our lives.
…Fourthly, and finally, teaching and ruling elders must get active in the church courts. We must be good churchmen. We must, for instance, be willing to do the unpleasant work of church discipline. Do we love our denomination enough to root out theological progressivism? It’s a question we should all be asking. Read more»
Jon Payne, “The PCA’s Very Slippery Slope: Progressivism, Theological Liberalism, & the Gay Pastor,” Gospel Reformation Network, December 14, 2020
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