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.
The PCA progressives and those seminaries that train potential PCA ministers will face challenges in the next twelve months. For the progressives, their own rhetoric of listening and inclusion now poses a problem for their strategy. Their church has spoken. As ministers, they have taken vows to maintain the peace and unity of the church. That does not mean they should simply submit their consciences to the church at this point, for the changes to the Book of Church Order are still in process. But having had their approach so roundly defeated by the GA, are they prepared to listen as humbly to their fellow presbyters as they have apparently been willing to listen to culturally dominant voices in society at large? Or will they simply blame the result on the bigoted, troglodyte ignorance of the majority?
Initial responses on Twitter suggest that the latter might well be the case. For example, one prominent opponent of the GA’s decision has declared on Twitter that it is the result of Southern pietistic moralists. Such a response gives little hope that the progressives will engage in any significant self-criticism at this point. That is unfortunate and, if it persists, would imply that the progressive language of love, unity, and dialogue amounts in practice to nothing more than sententious sanctimony designed to serve a broader political purpose. Love, unity, and dialogue are meaningless when applied only to those of whom one already approves. And if the progressives spend their energy engaging in Twitter polemics, hashtag diplomacy, and online civil war, they will appear not simply as bad-faith churchmen, but also as foolish, having learned nothing from their recent defeat. Read more»
Carl R. Trueman | “At The PCA General Assembly, The Little Guys Stood Up” | First Things | July 8, 2021
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