Payne: The PCA Already Has A Creed

[The PCA’s Bright Future—Without A Bigger Tent] That was the clear message sent last week to the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri by a record number of commissioners. It’s a message that has ignited joy and optimism among many presbyters and laypeople who are decidedly opposed to expanding the PCA’s “big tent” to include Side B gay celibate Christianity[2] and other potentially menacing cultural ideologies. For many, it seems, the tent is big enough.[3]

No Room for Unbiblical Cultural Creeds

Since its inception in 1973, the PCA has been home to numerous expressions of Reformed Presbyterianism.[4] Anyone familiar with the history of the PCA recognizes this distinct feature of our denomination. Some expressions of Reformed Presbyterianism in the PCA are more broadly evangelical, while others are more narrowly Reformed. Some emphasize doctrinal purity over evangelism, while others emphasize the reverse. We all try to be faithful in both, while doing neither without fault. It’s how we’ve done it for close to fifty years. We challenge and learn from one another, even when we disagree on how best to interpret and apply our confessional standards. And for the peace and purity of the church, we’ve agreed that some things do not belong in the PCA, causing more than a few to act with integrity and find an ecclesiastical home elsewhere.

To be sure, plenty of debate has occurred within our PCA family over the years. Like all denominations, we’ve had our fair share of controversy. At times our disputations have been intense. For example, think of the debates on Good Faith Subscription, Federal Vision, the Strategic Plan, and the Insider Movement. Nevertheless, we’ve carefully worked through our issues—biblically, confessionally, ecclesiastically—and managed to move forward in relative solidarity. It’s what we are doing again in response to the emergence of two culturally driven ideologies within our churches and presbyteries; namely, Side B gay Christianity and Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Creating space for these unbiblical cultural creeds in the PCA will facilitate serious and irreparable damage and division. Therefore, they must be rejected. There is no room for compromise. The Assembly’s voting margins from last week foster hope that the PCA’s future plans do not include tent expansion. We mustn’t make room for Side B and CRT. Read more»

Jon Payne | “The PCA’s Bright Future—Without A Bigger Tent” | GRN | July 9, 2021

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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5 comments

  1. John Payne states: “Responses to last week’s Assembly among “conservatives” have been interesting. Some state that nothing has really changed, especially since ratifying Overtures 23 and 37 requires two-thirds of the presbyteries to approve them, along with a final vote at next summer’s General Assembly. Others assert that the PCA has decidedly rejected progressive Christianity. Both are wrong.”
    He then goes on to suggest how people should pray for the PCA and never sufficiently, in my estimation, explains how “Both are wrong.” Do you have any suggestions? It seems that both sides of the concern–that nothing has changed and that there has been a sound rejection–are correct. The “sound rejection” has taken place but it is only momentary. In the “long run” nothing has yet changed because the presbyteries need to vote on this AND it needs to be ratified by a simple majority next year IF two thirds of the presbyteries pass it. As such, there has been “movement” but there has not yet been change. I appreciate what John has said but the argument seems to have been left dangling.

    • Hi Mark (if I may),

      It’s not my place to speak for Jon but I think his point is that the fact of the overwhelming majority vote in favor of overtures 23 and 37 means that there is reason to be optimistic about the future of the PCA. He’s rejecting both the cynical view (I take it), which seizes on the fact that the process has only begun and the naive (I take it) view that there’s nothing left to be done.

  2. Before the PCA GA in St. Louis, I was very skeptical that anything good would happen, but it did. Have all the issues been settled? No. But I view it as a very good start. It was the kind of thing that hasn’t happened in recent years. It appeared that the forces of progressivism couldn’t be deterred. Well, it was proven that they could. I take this as a glass half full moment because for the fist time in a long while there is hope.

    • Thank you, Bob and Scott. It does seem Jon (sorry for early misspelling) is attempting to “find the middle ground” between the two “extremes(?)” but it does not seem anything is completely clear yet. Bob, your perspective offers clarity in that there now appears to be hope where there had been none before. That is a helpful perspective and one I pray will come about.

    • Thank you, Bob and Scott. It does seem Jon (sorry for early misspelling) is attempting to “find the middle ground” between the two “extremes(?)” but it does not seem anything is completely clear yet.
      Bob, your perspective offers clarity in that there now appears to be hope where there had been none before. That is a helpful perspective and one I pray will bear fruit.

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