About Brad Isbell

Brad Isbell is a ruling elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, TN, board member of More In The PCA, co-host of the Presbycast podcast, editorial member of Presbyterian Polity, and treasurer of the Heidelberg Reformation Association. Meet all the Heidelberg contributors»

Machen On The Trinity

What the New Testament ordinarily does is to state parts of the doctrine, so that when we put those parts together, and when we summarize them, we have the great doctrine of the three persons and one God. For example, all passages . . . Continue reading →

Calvin’s Prayer After The Sermon

Almighty God and heavenly Father, You have promised to hear and answer our requests which we make to you in the name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We are further taught by Him and His apostles to gather together . . . Continue reading →

The Gospel Is Not National

It seems the Christian Nationalist project overburdens and spins Matthew 28: 19 & 20 much like the for-the-city transformationalist crowd does with Jeremiah 29:7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the . . . Continue reading →

Evening Worship In The PCA: Did It Die Of Natural Causes, Neglect, or Euthanasia?

A startling new study and article by two young churchmen in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) suggests that around 12% of churches conduct evening worship services. Pastors from the founding generation have estimated that 50–75% of PCA churches had evening worship . . . Continue reading →

In Praise of the Humble Blue Blazer

What equipment does a newly minted Ruling Elder need? I would propose the following: the Bible, the Westminster Standards, the Book of Church Order (BCO), a phone for texting members and fellow elders (there is lots of texting), an email account, and that . . . Continue reading →

Ruling Elder Renaissance

The recently-concluded 50th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly in Memphis, TN was the second-largest ever with (unofficially) 2250 elders in attendance; only the previous year’s assembly was larger with 2385 in attendance. More significantly, this year’s meeting solidified a trend of . . . Continue reading →

PCA Officers And Their Pronouns

Dozens of congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) communicate to the church and to the world that ordination is not essential to the holding of church office or to bearing the titles thereof. The two-office polity of the PCA is . . . Continue reading →

The Simplicity of Biblical Polity

A “senior pastor” is one elder among many (as Peter, Paul, and the unnamed elders were at the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:23) and has no extraordinary authority.* Unfortunately, some—usually large—presbyterian churches become de facto staff-led rather than elder-led. The senior pastor becomes . . . Continue reading →

PCA Overture To Distinguish Laity From Officers

The Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) Book of Church Order (BCO) contains no glossary, but maybe it needs one. This is not to fault the BCO’s early-70’s authors—no previous generation of Presbyterians had trouble figuring out what most of the words meant, . . . Continue reading →

What’s In A Denominational Name?

Today, neither the Orthodox Presbyterian Church nor the Presbyterian Church in America bear their first chosen names. Different as the two denominations are, the reasons for their name changes and even their slates of rejected names are quite similar. And the names—those . . . Continue reading →

Machen Worked & Played Harder Than You Do

It does seem to me that there can never be any true advance, and above all there can never be any true prayer, unless a man does pause occasionally, as on some mountain vantage ground, to try, at least, to evaluate the age in which he is living. And when I do that, I cannot for the life of me see how any man with even the slightest knowledge of history can help recognizing the fact that we are living in a time of sad decadence—a decadence only thinly disguised by the material achievements of our age, which already are beginning to pall on us like a new toy. Continue reading →

“Empathigination” And The PCA

The annual-assembling PCA, turning 50 and preparing to celebrate (or conflagrate?) in Memphis this June, is big, broad, and still orthodox in an evangelical sort of way. If this born-in-Birmingham denomination were a house, a cable TV remodeling show host might say . . . Continue reading →

Did Machen Believe In Ordaining Women?

To anyone familiar with J. Gresham Machen’s biography the words, “Machen and women” will bring two facts to mind: that Machen never married and that he had a particularly intimate relationship with his mother. Much of what we know about Machen comes . . . Continue reading →

“Do You Know Of A Good P&R Church Nearby?”

It happens often—a friend or listener sends a message with the question: “Do you know of a good confessional Presbyterian or Reformed church near X?” All too often, after searching online, consulting denominational websites, even asking other friends, the answer is no. . . . Continue reading →

A Presbyter’s Progression

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! Continue reading →

Shall The Radical Contextualizers Win?

Some elders in the PCA believe Johnsonism is essential to the future of the church. Others are willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now, watching to see where it goes. These men were those who applauded Johnson’s revival-style testimony at the 2019 General Assembly in Dallas. Votes from those in this group likely defeated the proposed PCA constitutional amendments that might have clamped down on same-sex attracted officers. Continue reading →