I share this letter to brethren in the PCA with some trepidation. With Prov. 26:17 in mind it is arguably foolhardy to get involved in another denomination’s ecclesial debates — especially one on the other side of the Atlantic! However friends in the PCA have suggested it may be helpful to you if I share how things have played out in England over the past decade.
Why would you want to read about the recent history of English evangelicalism as you ponder important votes in the PCA?
In most matters, American culture leads the Western world. To be sure, any time my children get obsessed with some fad or new toy, I can bet my bottom pound (dollar?) that the toy or movement originated in the USA. However, in regard to the specific debates you today face in the PCA — Revoice, ‘Side B’ views on sexuality — England, rather than America, has led the way.
It was a good decade ago that evangelical leaders in England began speaking of their same sex attractions in public, and shortly after that a para-church organization was established that promotes the collection of views that you would identify as being of the ‘Side B’ family. The language of ‘Side B’ was not used over here back then, but the doctrine was the same. One reason English evangelicals got a jumpstart on Americans in this area is that the Christian scene here is shaped in a large measure by what happens in the Church of England. Since that Church is a state church, with deep ties to the secular establishment, it naturally reflects the culture’s views more speedily than those Churches that distance themselves from the secular establishment.
Back in 2010, I realized where the sexuality debates in the Church were headed. At that time people were talking about homosexuality, but I could see that the goalposts would rapidly shift, and that the challenge would in the future be how to respond to transgenderism. That is why back in 2010 I published one of the first books from a conservative on the intellectual background to our culture’s celebration of transgenderism (Plastic People, Latimer Press, 2010). I hope that goes some way towards reassuring you I have been following these debates closely and pondering where matters are headed.
…Looking back over the past decade in England, the striking thing is that the Confessional resources we have to hand have been largely set aside and ignored in favour of moving, emotive personal stories from people willing to interpret their experiences through lenses foreign to Scripture. Side B views cannot root themselves in your Confession — instead, they seek to carry the day with emotive stories and personal experience. In so doing they resonate with the culture of the day.
One result of this in England has been that very few ministers are able or willing to teach a classical Reformed view on the nature of temptation in the realm of homosexuality. Personal stories are so valued by people that the duties of teaching are delegated out to parachurch organizations that can send into your church somebody who speaks from their personal experience. You can guess what happens — they promote a Side B view, and that outlook is embedded ever deeper in churches.
…Side B leaders who argue that their desires for same sex relationships are unchanged (or even good) find a ready audience for such teaching in England, because the supernatural work of the Spirit has so often been replaced with rationalism and organizational effort. Read more» HT:Aquila Report)
Rev Dr Peter Sanlon | “A Letter to PCA Friends from England” | December 20, 21
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