The Gospel And “This Insidious Revolution”

The moral revolution has overwhelmed western civilization, and is especially manifested in the LGBTQ+ and critical social justice movements.10 Intersectionality is the new reigning religion in the West, and her prophets, priests, and rulers are seated on the highest thrones of earthly power. The evidence of the moral revolution is ubiquitous. Sadly, this insidious revolution has found a foothold in a growing number of our churches, presbyteries, agencies, and ministries through side B gay christianity/Revoice, and critical social justice (It gives me absolutely no pleasure to express it. I wish it were not true). What is, perhaps, even more concerning than the ministers who positively and publicly affirm aspects of these false ideologies, are those who quietly acquiesce to them, reluctantly accepting error without protest. This quiet acquiescence is a spiritual cancer to ministers, and to denominations. Owen is right: “A hesitation or doubtfulness in or about important doctrines of truth, will make men lame, weak, and infirm in their profession.”11 Therefore, there must be no hesitation as it concerns the sufficiency of the gospel, and the divinely appointed means of grace, for the discipleship and mission of the church. We don’t need side B or CRT. In fact, no one needs it. We have the gospel—the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:18)! Read more»

Jon Payne“The Courage to be Presbyterian” | June 14, 2022


10. Two recommended primers on these issues are Carl Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution (Crossway, 2022), and Thaddeus Williams’ Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice (Zondervan Academic, 2020).

11. Ibid., 283.


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  1. Brother Scott, Payne’s good paragraph should have “weren’t” in place of “wasn’t.” Or better, it could be “I wish it were not true.” A certain percentage of us will note that. I always want our words to be good and to look good as well.

    • Good catch, David. The change has been made. I hope that you were encouraged by the content of the article, and not too distracted by my grammatical error. Blessings to you!

  2. Indeed! The dying, main line, liberal churches have been going in this direction of insipid moralism for some time. As they jettisoned the doctrines of the Christian Faith, they lost the Truth in favour of a social gospel which accepts error without protest. “This quiet acquiescence is a spiritual cancer to ministers and denominations.” If it is tolerated rather than excised, this cancer will replace sound doctrine with a lie.

    • Lutheran pastor and educator Charles Porterfield Krauth wrote a very concise statement back in the 19th Century that covers this issue perfectly. I’ve posted his quote here previously so I won’t do it again unless someone is unfamiliar with it and wants to read it.

    • Charles Porterfield Krauth was an American Lutheran theologian of the 19th century. His book The Conservative Reformation is a classic of theology and church history. You may perhaps have heard what he said about the three stages of error–from the request for toleration to a demand for equality to the imposition of superiority over truth–but thanks to Pastor Mark Schroeder for posting the actual quotation:

      When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of the others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and then only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate the faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it.

      Note: I believe that the term “error”, at least in this context, may be used interchangeably with “heresy.”

    • I sent this same quote from Krauth to a pastor/educator a few years ago and he replied that he has always said more or less the same things as Krauth, though not nearly as eloquently. But he added a 4th stage: Not only has “error” been allowed to assume supremacy, but it now demands people to “applaud” the immorality. And that’s pretty much where we are as a nation/culture/whatever you want to call it now. If you don’t applaud the heresy, you’re cancelled.

  3. The PCA General Assembly is next week. We’ll address these questions as well as others and would most definitely appreciate your prayers.

    Also, in light of the failure of Overtures 23 and 37 in the presbyteries despite overwhelming support at last year’s GA in St. Louis, pray for the presbyteries as well.

    • A former GA moderator has called the 2022 GA a “pitchfork Assembly” because of the discontent of the people in the pews over what has been happening over the last few years in the PCA. I’m not sure when you will need more prayer, before you attend the GA or after if the problems aren’t addressed satisfactorily.

  4. I’ve read Dr. Payne’s article and listened to his speech at the GRN’s recent conference. Both were outstanding in his passionate approach to a very troubling and, in my view, deadly disease that is now and has been for some time coursing through the veins of the PCA.
    I ask both Dr. Clark and Dr. Payne, if I may:
    Are we coming to the point of having a Samuel hack Agag to pieces?

    • I am prayerful and hopeful that next week’s PCA General Assembly in Birmingham will serve to “strengthen our weak knees and make straight our paths” as a denomination. Many are working towards reform according to Scripture and our confession. Pray for us.

    • The events of the last year have tempered our enthusiasm for what might happen at this year’s GA. Most of the overtures seek to amend the BCO. Overwhelming support at last year’s GA for overtures #23 and#37 led many to believe that corrective change was at hand. I believe that behind the scenes influence by the National Partnership caused the defeat of these overtures by enough presbyteries to cause the overtures not to be ratified. I assume that the same playbook will be used this year. The NP will not heavily oppose similar overtures this year at the GA because they are confident that they can defeat them at the presbytery level. If there is a repeat of what happened last year it may be the straw that breaks the PCA’s back.

  5. Dr. Clark, yes, of course metaphorically. It is being played out in the the PCA, and I reference J. Lance Acree in his post on the Aquilla Report, that the Tennessee Valley Presbytary ordained as a TE, a man who openly affirms homosexual and pedophile pastors. It’s here where I see Agag, a euphemism for that which God has chosen Samuel to eradicate.
    Harsh words from me, as we both know, are just that. Nothing more. I’m not justified in my anger unless I can prove to be. Trouble is, I’m not sufficiently trained in academic level linguistics to properly convey a cohesive train of thought. All sarcasm aside, pity me.
    The “hacking to pieces” in modern terms, is the swift and concise removal of said TE, in a show of force the PCA is in very short supply of. “Nuancing” I think it’s called. I’m not encouraging violence, but that is surely what Samuel engaged in, and for good reason that I’m also quite sure you understand.
    I offer up this OT reference simply for the purpose of what the NT portrays in Revelation what Christ has to say to the church that left their “first love.”
    All I’m trying to say is that the love for Israel the Lord had in the OT is the same Christ Jesus has for His bride. I’m certainly not saying anything you don’t already know, albeit far more intimately. I’m also not trying to intimate that OT Israel=NT church, that’s another can of worms, per say.
    The PCA is being undermined, and even at the GA, is doing very little to excise this except “nuance.” I realize it’s a daunting task to face this head on and do what’s required (ala Samuel), but I hope this is a small view into my love of the brethren and my love for a denomination that I’ve grown to love.

    • Nick,

      I don’t know how familiar you are with the PCA or with P&R polity but GA can’t just do something. There is a detailed Book of Church Order and a process. A case must come from a presbytery or, failing that, a sufficient number of presbyteries must petition the SJC to take original jurisdiction. That’s not an easy process. It’s not supposed to be. In the Johnson case, the first fault lies with his session, who, in my view, failed to do their duty. The second fault lies with his presbytery, which has admitted (as I understand it) that they dropped the ball. I have a recollection of the SJC hearing testimony about Johnson but I don’t recall the details. What will happen there I don’t know.

      As to the TVP case, the process will be slow. P&R churches are not episcopal. We do not have a bishop (e.g., a solo Bible-church pastor), who can simply issue commands. We have assemblies that must bring a complaint. Someone from the TVP will have to complain or perhaps another presbytery or two will have to complain. It will take months and probably longer.

      The real issue is whether Side B/Gay Christianity is according to the Word of God as confessed by the churches. There is a division of opinion in the PCA on this and we see the results of that division in the way the Johnson case has gone. Someone affirming that a child-attracted/pedophile man may serve in ministry may serve to clarify issue and galvanize opposition to Side B/Gay Christianity.

      Pray for your presbyters as they meet this coming week at GA and as the presbyteries deal with these issues going forward.

      Here are resources on the PCA.

    • nick: There are a few problems I see.
      1. We don’t have prophets anymore with whom God communicates directly.
      2. We don’t have a theocracy where a prophet could exercise ecclesiastical authority.
      3. We have a denomination (PCA ) which is governed by a Book of Church Order (BCO).
      4. The only way to remove an offending pastor is if the congregation who called him votes to remove him or if he is brought to trial in the church courts and his credentials are revoked.
      4. If neither of those mechanisms are activated, even a change in the BCO will have no effect if the congregation or the church courts refuse to act.
      5. It is God Himself who has established His Church with inherent limitations.

      So within those constraints, what remedy would you propose?

    • Dr. Clark, I’m sure you meant “do not have” in this reference: “P&R churches are not episcopal. We have a bishop (e.g., a solo Bible-church pastor), who can simply issue commands.”

      Not trying to nitpick. We all make typos and I made (at least) one in my last post, though it was obvious from context that the word “America” should have been an adjective, not a noun.

  6. Thank you Dr. Clark and Bob, You’ve both been patient with my frustration as to why a TE in St. Louis (and I’m sure elsewhere) can do what he does and think what he thinks.
    I’m not a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Hanover MA, and coming out of a non-denominational 1689 Baptist church, it’s been quite a task for me to get up to speed with the WCF.
    I’m reasonably aware of the the machinations required in the PCA as a whole to end this, it’s just that I don’t believe “they” have the berries to do it, which is why I’m waiting so impatiently to join the PCA.
    As I’ve come to learn, things grind along slowly in the PCA, and maybe for very good reason. This really does concern me, since quibbling about “nuance” can be a destructive to the furthering of proper orthodoxy and orthopraxy. This I’m sure you both know far better than me.
    I’m interested in one thing: a resolution. Time works on both ends of this spectrum, we wait for a political resolution in the courts and they wait for it to blow over and win through attrition. Taken from a perspective of someone looking from the outside in, with all the previous posts from you in the site, I can only surmise that you both love the church despite all it’s warts and desire greatly it’s survival, as I. So, let the process take it’s course, and the outcome be what it may be. Thank you Scott and Bob for taking the time to counsel me, I’ll hold my peace on the metaphors…promise (Nick chuckles).

  7. The title of the article is “The Courage to Be Presbyterian”, but in that modern P&R churches like the PCA don’t hold to classic confessional presbyterianism when it comes to worship or government, perhaps in the good providence of God that is why they are having so much trouble.
    Something about lukewarm comes to mind, never mind good faith subscription.
    Hey, jus sayin’.

  8. Bob,
    The 5 constraints you showed are, as I see it, the proper and established ways to bring resolution to this and other similar cases which are certainly going to come, except for #5, which of course is out of our hands altogether.
    If you’re looking for me to choose, It’d be #5. The reason for that is that’s exactly how it will, and has always been, the way it will happen. The beginning of the third chapter of the WCF has always been a show stopper for me, such beautiful language, and a backstop for all I think and do, regardless of how much caffeine-induced impulsiveness I demonstrate.
    WCF 3:1 is where I park the car.
    WCF3:7-8 is where the movie plays, all tongue in cheekiness aside.
    I’m familiar with all the aforementioned (thanks Brad Isbel & Presbycast), and I’ve been made fully aware of the PCA’s process in this. Let’s hope it comes to pass that Mr. Johnson and the Presbytery he’s in withdraws. Your thoughts on that?

    • nick: If Greg Johnson and Memorial Presbyterian were the only offenders then there might be cause for optimism. I’ll believe they are leaving when I see it happen. If there weren’t a significant number of teaching elders in the PCA who have at least some agreement with them then I think that overtures #23 and #37 would have and should have been ratified easily. The thing is that if teaching elders can take exception to parts of the WCF, then how would an amendment to the BCO impede them? If you are looking for encouragement about where the PCA is headed, you won’t get it from me. I see the glass as already half empty with a denominational split as inevitable. Maybe I’m wrong but once a denomination starts to decline because of lack of Biblical fidelity, I can’t give you a list of those which have recovered without a split. Anyone here who wants to show me where I’m mistaken in my analysis is encouraged to show me where I’m wrong.

  9. Bob: I’m in agreement with the reality of this being more prevalent than we think, hence my reference to J. Lance Acree’s article on the Aquila Report. As far as the PCA’s future as a denomination is concerned, the realization of that came in the form of a recent conversation I had with a member of the church I attend. When asked if he knew what the BCO was, “never heard of it” was the answer I got. I’m actually not surprised by this, and I’m not being snarky here. But if we use this snapshot to explain the future of the PCA, this future looks bleak.
    Polity and practice were assaulted by Mr. Fosdick (sp?) in the 20’s, and the outcome was axiomatic. Polity and practice are being assaulted by Revoice et. al., and the outcome seems to be headed in the same direction. History can do nothing but repeat itself.

    • Nick,

      “History can do nothing but repeat itself.” Really? I doubt that. History does repeat itself, insofar as patterns recur but “can do nothing” is too much. God is sovereign and he is free to do wonderful things.

      None of us even knows how this PCA GA will turn out. Let’s exercise a little humility. Did you or I know that the PCA was going to leave the NAE? I didn’t. There was no indication in the past that the PCA would do that.

      Let’s pray and “believe all things.” I’m not naive about the very real challenges faced by the PCA.


      Resources On The PCA

    • I’m not at the PCA GA, obviously, and all I know is what I’m hearing from others. But here’s my read — the PCA vote to leave the NAE may have been a “test vote” to see where the majorities lay before the more consequential votes to come. If so, it’s encouraging.

      In secular politics, a “test vote” means a vote to see how many people will be on each side of a non-critical but not irrelevant vote before taking up a much more consequential matter. We saw one of those “test votes” in the Senate this week on gun issues — it showed that enough Republicans were willing to take criticism from the NRA and others that it was worth moving ahead on the so-called “bipartisan” gun compromise.

      Anyone who knows me knows I have huge problems with what one of my Missouri senators did in voting for that proposal. But the “test vote” showed that there are enough votes to overcome a filibuster and get this bill passed, so the people pushing this will keep pushing, and practical politics being what they are, they need to get this bill passed in the Senate before the senators go home for a planned break to face their constituents where some votes may get changed by public pressure on the senators.

      People at the General Assembly now may want to comment, and I’d love to hear their comments, but my read is that (whether planned or otherwise) this vote on the NAE is a test vote on whether the PCA wants to be broad-church evangelical or more separatist/fundamentalist/Reformed. Those are **NOT** the same, but all three of those groups are in the PCA, and all are opposed to a broad evangelical consensus that is what motivates the NAE, and has since its inception.

      Crucially, there are a lot of people in the PCA who are not confessionally Reformed but have problems with broad evangelicalism, and even more people who have problems with “woke” evangelicalism, and that is what the NAE is painted as having become today.

      For the PCA to pull out of the NAE is a rebuke to a number of PCA leaders, and will cause specific problems personally for several PCA people in NAE leadership. It’s not a painless vote, but if it had failed, the failure wouldn’t have hurt the conservatives.

      It’s an indicator that the next votes, which will be of more consequence, will be assuming a much more strongly conservative body of commissioners at the General Assembly than has been the case in prior years.

      Again, I’m not there. My experience in secular politics and denominational politics doesn’t necessarily translate well to the specifics of the PCA, or the composition of this year’s General Assembly which may be much different from prior years. I’d like to hear others comment who are there.

    • Darrell: To me the crucial “test vote” was Overture 15 (Amend BCO 7 to Disqualify from Office Men Identifying as Homosexual). Last year the GA approved similar overtures in Overtures 23 and 37 with over a 2/3 majority. When sent to the presbyteries for ratification, they both failed to achieve the 2/3 majority of the presbyteries required for ratification. This year’s Overture 15 only passed by 55% to 45%. The chances that this overture will be ratified by a 2/3 majority of the presbyteries are exceedingly slim. I don’t know what the votes were on the other overtures this year but if Overture 15 is any indication, instead of being a “pitchfork assembly” where the outraged masses rose up in protest about the direction of the PCA, the vote on this overture would indicate more of a “dessert fork assembly.”

  10. Scott, Maybe I used the “history” thing in the wrong context. Mea Culpa. I was intending to use it in the context of the PCA’s history in the time of the Fosdick/Machen controversy and now. In short, what happened then is repeating itself now.
    Never intended to intimate that anyone was naive.
    Please remember that as far as PCA inner workings go, I’m woefully uninformed. I’m trying to come to an understanding through conversations with the ruling/teaching elders, this particular church as Christ describes her. When faced with that, you’re correct, humility is a precious commodity.
    I will say that the coming actions/inactions will determine my participation in the PCA. My trust is certainly not in the bride, but the bridegroom. Although, there is an OPC denomination on Cape Cod that I know a few people at.

  11. Darrell/Bob,
    I agree Darrell that the test vote process (or dare I say “trial balloon”) in secular politics is the process du jour for reading the “does this thing have legs?” temperature on any given bill. As far as the PCA GA assimilating this political construct in it’s voting process…well. let’s hope not. Yet, as Bob has stated, this just might be the PCA’s version of it.
    Bob, the 45% number you gave should send shivers down the spine of every thinking PCA member. That number is exactly why I’m not a member yet, though I so wish it were not the case. “Dessert fork assembly”? Priceless.

    • Nick: I have more information now about the General Assembly. While Overture 15 was explicit and unequivocal, that is why it probably drew a tepid response. Another overture which addressed this same subject was Overture 29 which passed 90%/10% was:

      “Overture 29, Amend BCO 16 by Adding 16-4 Regarding Qualifications for Church Office, as amended. The vote was 1922-200. The amended language is as follows:

      16-4 Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification. Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.“

      The problem with this overture is that it makes no distinction between natural and unnatural sins which has been a strategy of the Side B proponents from the beginning. There is nothing in this overture which would bar a candidate who struggles with unnatural sins from being ordained. So I fully expect this overture, which in effect codifies the tolerance of candidates who struggle with unnatural sins, to be ratified as part of the BCO. And yet those who voted for this overture will probably tell their congregations that they have addressed this grave problem within the PCA while this overture does nothing of the sort.

    • Thank you, Nick and Bob, for your response and for your PCA GA updates.

      Given what’s going on in the CRC and RCA, and the exodus of a number of prominent conservative RCA churches into the PCA, perhaps men like Kevin DeYoung will succeed in convincing the PCA that this is a road down which they do **NOT** want to go. I hope it is not an indicator of the future that a higher percentage of the CRC synod delegates voted the right way this month on gay issues than the percentage of PCA general assembly commissioners who voted this month to actually enforce the denomination’s stance on those issues. I realize the questions before the two denominations were not identical — barring nonpracticing homosexuals from the ministry is NOT the same as declaring homosexuality to be sin and telling churches to bar people in gay marriages from office — but history shows us that failure to take action to discipline very often leads to those who were once tolerated, as in 1924 with the Auburn Affirmation, becoming the majority a few years later and driving out those in 1929 and 1936 who still insisted on biblical truth.

      There are plenty of gay-friendly denominations out there. We live in a country where homosexuals have full civil rights and they have every legal right to do what they want in their own homes and their own churches or other groups. I wish the people in the PCA and CRC and similar denominations who believe that way would just leave and go somewhere that’s open and affirming of their views, rather than trying to change churches that don’t agree with them.

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