A Presbyter’s Progression



From the Denomination That Was

To That Which Is To Come:

Delivered under the Similitude of a


Wherein is Discovered

The manner of his setting out,

His Dangerous Journey; And

Surprising Outcome of His Travels


Now I saw in my dream, that when Confessionalist was gone back, Presbyter and Moderate went talking over the steepening track; and thus they began their discourse.

PRESBYTER: Come, neighbour Moderate, how do you do? I am glad that you are with me on this treacherous, beautifully-broken-but-orthodox way. You seem an authentic and plain man, and I am happy for your company. What think you of this way?

MODERATE: Well, good Presbyter, the views are certainly beautiful, but I fear this slope which falls away so sharply to our left as the trail grows more narrow and steep. The footing is not at all to my liking, what with loose stones of many sizes and types.

PRESBYTER: Now, now good Moderate, see you not these excellent Shoes I wear of hearty Evangelical stock? These shoes were made by the most excellent cobblers of the City Cultural for Mission and Progress. No such shoes are to be had in the country!

MODERATE: Well, Presbyter, the shoes are most beautiful. The design is lovely to behold and such a shine they have!— though I venture to say that the dust of this way does but begin to dull them. But the great thing about shoes is how they stand wear and how they protect one’s feet, is it not? And how (on so rocky and treacherous a track as this) they allow a man to keep his feet. It may be that a simple country cobbler knows the better how to fashion shoes for the wilds we now traverse.

PRESBYTER: Stuff and nonsense, dear Moderate! These shoes will serve me well. I have paid dearly for them, and they are all the rage in the City Cultural.

MODERATE: Me thinks I have seen shoes of this fashion before, though you do seem to keep up with Things Current, so I will defer to your wisdom. I doubt not that your fine Evangelical shoes might serve you well in some places or at some other times, but really I fear that no shoes are sufficient for this path. Tell me again why we go this way. (Moderate begins searching his rucksack)

PRESBYTER: Good Moderate, do you not remember? This path leads to the Broad Plain of Influence. All will be well when we arrive there. I fancy the journey will not be so bad, though a few wounds and a bit of brokenness acquired along the way only serve to endear us to the folk of the Broad Plain and its divers cities. Many will hear us gladly and there we will acquire sundry new companions and so progress on with a greater company. Why look you so troubled?

MODERATE: Now do I fear we have gone astray. I have consulted this Map Historical from my kit bag. I am reminded that nearly all who have traveled this way before have come to a bad end! This ravine or canyon to our left is very deep and the map does warn of many bones at the bottom thereof. And it says that those not killed on this slope have often wandered off mad into the wilderness hereby, not being able to climb back up this dreadful slope after having slipped!

PRESBYTER: Dear Moderate, do you not see where you err? Many who trod this path to their harm before us were Rank Liberals, which we are certainly not—we are Evangelicals of a very particular and modern kind. Others who fell were good but unlearned men. We have the Knowledge to navigate this path and thus reach Influence ere long. Would you run back after Confessionalist and seek the long way ‘round? He trods the Path Ordinary, a way of great antiquity, but how dull and plain! Few dwell along that way, and the weather is often rainy and cold and the mud makes the journey grievous. And mark my words—besides the tediousness of the road much time will be wasted with books and wrangling over How Things Are Done, if I know poor Confessionalist’s ilk. We are in a new day and new paths are requir… (Presbyter slips!)

MODERATE: Ho, good sir! Take my hand. Let us turn away from this madness!

PRESBYTER: I thank you—I will be more careful! But on I must go. Fair Influence beckons.

MODERATE: Dear Presbyter, look!—it grows dark and the way seems far worse ahead. Whether you accompany me or no, I must turn back with all haste. Fare thee well and take care. I fear for your safety, dear brother. I must fly. Adieu!

(Moderate turns back; Presbyter continues slowly along…he is heard to mumble about his shoes)

©Brad Isbell. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. I often wonder what the Reformed heroes of old would say about this sad state of affairs… I imagine they would be angry these things are even being argued. The “Reformed” tradition has gone a long way from its roots for the sake of pragmatism and influence in a debased culture given over to hard hearts.

  2. Dear Churchman (the presumed author),
    Thank you for this didactic and pithy portion of the Presbyter’s Progression. My grave concern from this reading is that Moderate seems to have presumed an advantage of the first Adam in the Garden–the ability to choose evil or good on his own. Even with the aid of the Map Historical there is still the need to be able to read and interpret that map correctly. Can this be done without the skill of Confessionalist?
    Maybe even more concerning is whether Moderate exists at all. Is not Moderate simply a mask hiding a yet-to-be-revealed Confessionalist or simply a publicly-timid Rank Liberal?

  3. In some PCA circles, this document warrants at least 12 years in gaol.

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