January 20, 2012

Today I would like to share my thoughts on the tensions that threaten the PCA.

Christ put two kinds of men in the PCA, men who are more confessionally oriented (MCO) and men who are less confessionally oriented (LCO). This is His will. Over many decades I have come to believe that He did so wisely. We need each other. Once we recognize this we will stop fighting each other, stop trying to persuade others to be like us, and we will be able to let each kind of man do what Christ has given him to do. LCO men don’t want the PCA to slip into apostasy, yet they don’t want to expend a lot of energy on defending orthodoxy. Great, don’t! You have MCO men who are glad to do it. We need such men. But we also need men who emphasize other things. Do LCO men warn us against intellectual pride? Well, I am glad for those warnings because I needed them (and still need them). Will orthodoxy alone build the Kingdom? No.

Frankly, I’m not a man who knows how to get things done, so I have come to admire and respect those who do. I need them even if they are LCO than I am.

The danger is that both kinds of men, LCO and MCO see the other as manifesting dangerous weakness. I don’t doubt that, because of indwelling sin, there is some truth in the concerns of each group about the other. But at a more fundamental level each group represents a strength that the other needs. Christ has apportioned his gifts in this way so that alone we are weak, but united in submission to him, his strength is manifested in us. If all PCA men could learn to appreciate the gifts they do not have and let those with such gifts operate without condemnation, the tensions among us would be vastly reduced.

What about apostasy? First let me say that not every departure from the Confession automatically leads to apostasy. It may unlock the door, but then we need brothers who will make sure that door isn’t opened. But if we cherish one another’s gifts, and emphases, then when someone comes along who tries to open the door dangerously, like a Peter Enns, the MCO men can cry out an alarm. Because they have cherished their LCO men, those brothers will be much more likely to listen and support efforts to remove really dangerous men from our midst. But MCO brothers cannot be like the boy who cried wolf. We cannot get up in arms over every departure.

Let MCO brothers not provoke their LCO brothers to wrath, and likewise, let LCO men cherish their MCO brothers, be grateful for their vigilance and not deride them for it. Let them do what they are gifted to do by our Lord.

Sometimes the system may fail and a man may be in a pulpit who doesn’t belong there. That’s not good, but it’s not fatal either, even in St. Louis! They key is to keep such men from spreading. If you cannot eliminate something, contain it. We are much more able to do that united than sniping at each other.

If you are still reading, thanks for your patience and forgive my inability to be more concise. (This is actually much condensed from the first couple of versions – lol) Do you think this is correct? I participate in such blogs so that my rusty iron can be sharpened by others, so sharpen away dear brothers!



  1. Bill said

    Very good, and I totally agree, which is why this Old School Psalm singer is in the PCA and loves her.

  2. I tend to think of the debate as having three sides: the Doctrinalists, the Pietists and the Transformationalists (Upward, Inward and Outward). As you say, we all need each other.

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