Been There, Seen That: Anglican Minister Warns PCA About The Future Of Side B

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


Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Those of us who grew up in mainline denominations rather than evangelicalism and moved into forms of historic Christianity as college students and adults have been saying this about the PCA for about 10 years or more. we experienced these things in the denominations we grew up in and have seen what is happening in the PCA from several miles away. The PCA has been allowing folks who believe in the five points of Calvinism and infant baptism to skate by on not believing most of the rest of the Westminster standards. those of us who grew up in the mainline denominations know where this eventually leads. It has always led to a minister somewhere crossing a line that is not easily hidden and can’t be swept under the rug. The methods of the Side B and “good” (read loose) faith subscription folks is The same as what we have seen in literally every denomination that has capitulated on this issue. The handwriting is on the wall for anyone willing to see it: The overtures must pass or the PCA is very likely going to go in the direction of almost every other denomination that has wrestled with this issue. I say that not with glee, but as someone who spent the first 25 years of my life in another denomination witnessing it go through the exact same thing. Thankfully, PCA congregations own their own building, which will make whatever the future of the denomination is easier for the dissenters to navigate. The dam broke on my childhood denomination around 10 years ago and property disputes are still being figured out.

  2. I was very happy to see the overwhelming (roughly 3/4) support for the initiatives at General Assembly in St. Louis. I am shocked that they are barely meeting (or not meeting) the 2/3 of the presbyteries. I know my presbytery has yet to vote and am certain we will vote for the overtures. I am hopeful that most of the remaining presbyteries will also vote in favor. And that the General Assembly in Birmingham next year will vote to affirm by a large margin. But never assume anything. Keep on praying and beseeching God to keep the PCA out of sin and error.

    • Tom: What you can safely assume is that the National Partnership is working behind the scenes to make sure that these overtures are not ratified by the presbyteries. Even though the overtures passed by a wide margin in St. Louis, everything I have heard is that things don’t look promising for ratification. Even if the presbyteries ratify, the NP will get one more chance because the ratification will have to be approved at next year’s GA. Our problem isn’t Side B. That’s just a symptom. I’m convinced that the PCA’s biggest problem is the NP.

  3. A good resource for those in the battle might be the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, in Australia. I have a good friend in that group of Anglicans, and I keep up with their ongoings. They have been the only diocese in Australia to hold the line by refusing to budge on the doctrines of scripture concerning homosexuality and the ordination of women, and have been a major force in the Anglican Realignment Movement.

Comments are closed.