“If you are in the PCA, barring a miracle from heaven, your denomination is finished," Douglas Wilson wrote in 2018 (PCA, R.I.P.). "Either believe the Bible, all of it, or just cut to the chase and call yourself a liberal. And once you are a liberal, there will be absolutely no remaining principle of resistance when the LGBTQ-plussers are speaking as confidently as all dammit at the microphones of your General Assemblies. So whatever you say, apart from massive repentance, your beloved denomination is going to assume room temperature shortly. Count on it."
Why is this the case? Well, in short, Jon Payne explained in 2020 (“The PCA’s Very Slippery Slope”), “a growing number of our ministers and churches are conforming to the world’s values, attitudes, and ideals, especially as it concerns homosexuality and the social gospel. The future doesn’t look good for the PCA. Frankly, the future looks pretty bad, and I’m not alone in my assessment. … Progressivism is a fast-moving slippery slope in the PCA, ultimately leading to the idolatrous mire of theological liberalism … Unless the PCA—from her pulpits and courts—decides not to conform to unbiblical views on human sexuality, social justice, and critical theory, it will be impossible to avoid a denominational split. The inescapable fact is that confessional Presbyterianism and theological progressivism make terrible roommates.”
Is there any hope that things can be turned around?
Reason for Hope?Tim Bayly doesn't see a reason for hope. He says that "passing this or that modulated statement of an earlier less-modulated statement" at the 2021 PCA General Assembly, while still having no intention of actually disciplining liberals, is meaningless.
"There are enough loopholes in the proposed changes," Larry Ball adds, "to continue to allow Side B Homosexuals to continue as officers in the PCA (or be admitted to the PCA)."
"I was glad to see the step toward confessional fidelity that the new BCO language may be," a young woman named Katie wrote on Twitter. "I was even more encouraged by the RE turnout that seems to indicate some have finally woken up to the fact that the PCA is in danger. But I fear it may be too little too late. In an ideal world, where the new overtures receive 2/3 support in presbyteries and then are actually enforced at presbytery level, this will merely cut off one small tentacle of the beast of wokeness / standpoint epistemology that has almost swallowed PCA whole."
On the other hand, Todd Pruitt is encouraged. The 2021 General Assembly saw record attendance, especially among ruling elders, and he believes the General Assembly sent a clear message.
Pastor Aldo Leon likewise is encouraged.
Jon Payne also sees a bright future for the PCA—without a bigger tent. Creating space for "two culturally driven ideologies"—Side B gay Christianity and Critical Race Theory (CRT)—"will facilitate serious and irreparable damage and division. Therefore, they must be rejected. There is no room for compromise. The Assembly’s voting margins from last week foster hope that the PCA’s future plans do not include tent expansion. We mustn’t make room for Side B and CRT."
Carl Trueman was likewise encouraged: "In the last few days, I have spoken to a number of GA commissioners. They seem to agree that at the GA, 'the little guys stood up' (to quote one commissioner verbatim). Ruling elders—commissioners who are not professional clergy and who live in the real world—turned out in force. Small churches scrimped and saved to send their pastors. The big urban churches, even with the social media savvy and the careful organization of the National Partnership (that most un-Presbyterian of things—a lobby group that operates outside the courts of the church), were beaten by the votes of culturally anonymous and culturally inconsequential congregations. And, to quote said commissioner again, the PCA voted to uphold the Christian sexual morality of the last two millennia, rather than that of merely the last two decades."
Trueman believes that "for the progressives, their own rhetoric of listening and inclusion now poses a problem for their strategy. ... Having had their approach so roundly defeated by the GA, are they prepared to listen as humbly to their fellow presbyters as they have apparently been willing to listen to culturally dominant voices in society at large? Or will they simply blame the result on the bigoted, troglodyte ignorance of the majority? Initial responses on Twitter suggest that the latter might well be the case. For example, one prominent opponent of the GA’s decision has declared on Twitter that it is the result of Southern pietistic moralists. Such a response gives little hope that the progressives will engage in any significant self-criticism at this point. That is unfortunate and, if it persists, would imply that the progressive language of love, unity, and dialogue amounts in practice to nothing more than sententious sanctimony designed to serve a broader political purpose."
Ryan Biese says "the PCA remains a sound denomination and if the actions of the 2021 General Assembly are ratified, the result will be a more faithfully Reformed and Presbyterian communion than it was last year." He believes we could see "departures by those who were not 'of us' as they grow frustrated with our commitment to uphold the standards of the denomination; they will begin to affiliate with more like-minded, progressive faith communions." One can hope. (Todd Pruitt suggests that many progressives are in fact headed out the door, while others would like to resign in protest but frankly need the paycheck.)
Below are some further reading materials.
- "The Word of God comes and is used by the Spirit for the true care of our souls," Jonathan Master writes in an excellent review of Greg Johnson's new book. "What is offered in this book, however, is not that kind of care. It is not care aimed at growth; it is more like the palliative care offered to a hospice patient."
- Greg Johnson "provides enough evidence from his own statements to make it obvious that this characteristic is so core to his being and so central to his personal narrative that it disqualifies him from ordained service," says the dissenting opinion in the Johnson case. "TE Johnson consistently palliates the sin of same-sex attraction such that he dishonors God."
- Tim Bayly has put together a list of PCA pastors and elders "who declined to contend for the faith" when the homosexualists mounted an attack on the purity and peace of the Church at the 2019 General Assembly. (These men signed a formal protest against Pastor Steve Warhurst's witness against Revoice.)
- "Greg Johnson and the Revoice crowd don’t understand the most basic aspects of Christianity or the Gospel," says PCA pastor Mark Kozak, "and in no way are qualified to be anywhere near the pulpit …. other than kneeling in front of it and repenting."
- In this 73-page paper, M.D. Perkins confronts the ideology of the Revoice movement.
- "The lines have been drawn," Charlie Rodriguez writes. "Either the Progressives will leave or the Confessionalists will leave. Or to put it another way, either the PCA will become a liberal denomination or it will remain true to the Word of God. ... Confessionalists must protect the purity of the PCA and its churches and agencies. Progressives need to take a good hard look at the Word of God, get right with God, and apologize."
- "The PCA "is in the throes of an identity crisis," writes R. Scott Clark, "in part because of the relatively decentralized character of the PCA and a relatively lax approach to confessional subscription, which has developed over the last twenty years. In that time an influential and organized progressive movement has developed in the PCA. It has allowed them to adapt and adopt pragmatic church-growth principles, to take significant exceptions to confessional standards, turn a blind eye to the Federal Vision movement in the church courts, create functionally female deacons and elders, and to promote the so-called Side-B approach to homosexuality."
- White evangelicals "have got to be willing to surrender power," our Southern Baptist brother Danny Akin once helpfully suggested. "Not only do we need to invite ethnic minorities into our room and to have a seat at the table, we even need to be willing to surrender leadership at the table if we’re really going to make progress and really help our brothers and sisters understand we see them on an equal plane with ourselves." Forbes columnist Jack Kelly agrees, saying bluntly that "to fight systemic racism, CEOs and high-profile professionals should step down and offer their jobs to people of color." To their great credit, some people actually have the integrity and courage to walk the walk. Jaime Grant, a "queer feminist sex activist" (don't ask), declares: "White people, it's time to resign. I did." And so did this PCA teaching elder. He says he resigned as the senior pastor of his church to make way for "minority voices." Here's hoping more and more pallid Presbyterian progressives push pause on their performative preening and precipitate the passing of their privileged paychecks.
- "Progressive Christianity is Liberal Christianity 2.0 because it is cut from the same bolt of cloth—with the identical fabric of a wrong motivation and wrong mission, leading to the wrong message and the wrong ministries," Harry Reeder writes.
- The embrace of critical theory within American Christendom "will do far, far more damage than an evangelical embrace of former President Donald Trump ever did," writes PCA member Erick Erickson. "It will fully separate Christians from the truth of the gospel and drag them into a religion without grace, which makes any sort of racial reconciliation impossible."
- "As someone who lived as a lesbian for a decade while advocating for LGBTQ rights and causes as an activist and tenured English professor in New York, and now as someone who is a biblically married pastor’s wife with children and grandchildren, I can emphatically declare that gay Christianity is a trap set by Satan, whether you are acting on sinful impulses or not," Rosaria Butterfield writes. "'Gay' Christianity—whether a person is sexually active or not—is a different religion from biblical Christianity." She also laments that "intersectionality has found a home in many of our Reformed churches."
- Art Pereira is a gay man serving as the director of youth ministry at Hope Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Randolph, New Jersey, Shawn Mathis reports. Mr. Pereira has a straight friend, Nick Galluccio, a youth pastor at Stonecrest Community Church, for whom Mr. Pereira has romantic feelings. Mr. Pereira says he and Mr. Galluccio "are deeply committed to each other." He says they are a family and a household. They are "planning on sharing life together for the rest of our lives." According to Mr. Pereira, "We make decisions together as a family. … When he has a wife one day, she'll make the decisions with us." Mr. Pereira's PCA pastor is supportive of this arrangement.
- The PCA is now pretty much the PCUSA, Tim Bayly laments.
- For all his faults, at least Donald Trump recognizes we are in a fight for our lives. "Ironically," Mark Devine writes ("Evangelicals Fight Wokedom Without and Within"), "unless the evangelical elites learn this as well, and soon, their hatred of Trump may destroy whatever evangelical or even Christian credibility they once thought support for Trump would threaten."
- "Seeing prominent voices within the PCA embracing critical theory should deeply bother the leaders of the denomination," Erick Erickson writes. "Seeing, yet again, many of those voices coming out of the PCA’s own in-house seminary should deeply bother the denomination."
- Reverend Melvin Tinker discusses the demonic cultural Marxism that has infected the church.
- "I fear that if the PCA makes room for 'Side B' gay identity out of a sense of compassion, then vulnerable young people could be led toward unbiblical self-conceptions and even sinful behaviors," writes one PCA church member who has experienced same-sex attraction. "No matter how strongly a Christian claims (and sincerely tries) to adhere to traditional ethics otherwise, I don’t believe it’s possible to adopt the 'gay' modifier without bringing along a host of destructive implications. When I see Teaching and Ruling Elders publicly arguing otherwise, I believe they’re doing pastoral harm, no matter how kind their intentions."
- On May 28, 2020, a committee of the PCA released a new report on gender and sexuality. "I couldn’t be more grateful to see these twelve affirmations from the PCA study committee," Denny Burk writes. "I look forward to seeing the General Assembly take it up next summer. I hope and pray that they will approve it. If they do, it will perhaps be the most comprehensive statement on biblical sexuality adopted by a Protestant denomination." For his part, Pastor Al Baker is underwhelmed with the new PCA report. "The very fact that we are having this discussion is all we need to know of how far the PCA has strayed from the Scriptures on the issue of homosexuality," he writes ("Leaving the PCA").
- "Those of us concerned about the PCA’s drift toward worldliness have an important role to play in returning our denomination to sound biblical orthodoxy on creation, race, men and women, sexuality, etc.," Bill Peacock writes.
- Greg Johnson's "recategorization of SSA as an untouchable identity fails the biblical and confessional test," David Garner writes. "Johnson’s new doctrine of sanctification requires befriending an identity that opposes Christ."
- "The PCA is on track to be another denominational domino to topple along with the mainline churches who have embraced theological liberalism," Pastor Chris Gordon writes.
- Aaron Baker, who received an M.A. in Theological Studies from the PCA’s Covenant Theological Seminary, is an 8th-grade social studies teacher in the Mid-Del school district who promotes "radical social justice in Oklahoma public schools." He boasts: “I unashamedly promote tolerance, multiculturalism, gender equity, LGBTQ+ rights, and anti-racism.” Indeed, in districts like his with inclusive nondiscrimination policies, Mr. Baker says, "LGBTQ issues are non-debatable in classrooms" and certain opinions "should not be allowed to be heard." Moreover, he advises his fellow educators to “avoid saying ‘he’ or ‘she.’ … [T]he safest way for educators to be inclusive of all gender identities is to all together drop the male and female pronouns for students.” In addition, teachers should “avoid saying ‘boys and girls’ or ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ … The problem is that these phrases are binary and automatically exclude any students who don’t fit into these two defined categories. Instead, say something like ‘students of all genders’ or ‘students and scholars.’”
- "What the PCA doesn’t need is another mission drift into social work and social engineering," Pastor Jim Shaw II writes. "If one wishes to see the world changed, it will happen in the same way that it has for the past 2000 years—through the work of the Holy Spirit regenerating hearts and turning them to Christ. The PCA needs to turn away from virtue signaling how much we are just like the 'woke' world and turn to being the salt and light we were called to be. ... There are no monsters to be found in the closet, and thrashing mom’s fur coat to make Chesapeake Presbytery feel better won’t do any good."
- "While I deplore the theology of Revoice," writes Todd Pruitt, "the adoption of Critical Theory represents an even greater threat to the Gospel. It should not surprise us that the denominations which have taken up the categories and language of 'Theory' and Liberation Theology have all died or are dying due to apostasy."
- As soon as one begins to appeal leftward, Doug Wilson reminds us, "your hypothetical audience starts to drift further left on you. You find yourself having to move ever leftward to remain 'winsome.' And this, boys and girls, is how we got from Dan Quayle’s Murphy Brown 'blunder' on single motherhood to the point where we are today, where doctors, without risking their licenses, will actually take money in order to cut off the breasts of perfectly healthy teen-aged girls."
- "The scandal of Revoice is now almost three years old," Tim Bayly writes. "There has not been a single statement of condemnation nor a single disciplinary rebuke nor censure. Not one. ... The absence of any judgments against the men of Revoice might seem like no big deal until we stop and consider that a number of these Revoice souls have now entered eternity where they faced the judgment seat of God. Having not been blessed by any watchmen’s warning, they have died in their sins, but their blood will be required at the watchmen’s hands."
- Larry Alex Taunton observes that "doctrinal malpractice has given us a generation of men, Christian and otherwise, who are what Lewis called 'men without chests.'"
- Critical Race Theory is "a false religion," Gerry McDermott tells Todd Pruitt and Carl Trueman.
- "How can a PCA church host an event that contradicts its own confessional standards?" asks the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. "How can this church allow a celebration of the very sin that Scripture binds them to oppose?"
- "If the PCA approves of Memorial Presbyterian Church (and failure to discipline is approval), then those who cannot accept these secular inroads will have to consider how we must apply Paul’s demand to refuse partnership with those who promote spiritual darkness," Richard D. Phillips writes.
- "Not on guard for the sanctification without which no man will see God, these men of the PCA and Missouri Presbytery have become liars themselves," Tim Bayly points out. "Elders lie. Pastors lie. Greg Johnson and his fellow Missouri Presbyters have lied and lied and lied. About practices. About intentions. About motivations. About holiness. About purity. About God." He says it's time for the PCA to stop lying and get to work.
- Laura Perry, author of Transgender to Transformed: A Story of Transition That Will Truly Set You Free, warns against the PCA's 2020 Revoice conference. "If you have struggled with sexual sin of any kind," she writes, "you cannot continue to identify with your sin."
- "Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCA), the host church of the first Revoice Conference, has recently opened its doors to activities even further beyond the pale of PCA faith and practice than Revoice," Zack Groff writes.
- The polity of the PCA "prescribes a system of discipline when church members, pastors, sessions, or presbyteries sin or indulge in error," Todd Pruitt writes. "It is sad to see that one of our churches, Memorial Presbyterian in St. Louis, MO (Missouri Presbytery), hosted an event (February 27-March 1) which was intended to celebrate sexual immorality and gender confusion."
- "I wonder how much longer before denials of orthodox trinitarianism, substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone, the necessity of the new birth, etc. will be deemed in some Presbyteries as 'not striking at the vitals of our religion,'" Todd Pruitt writes.
- The PCA is "increasingly a liberal, progressive denomination," PCA minister Al Baker laments. "No teaching elder (TE) or ruling elder (RE) in the PCA "would be so bold as to deny the inspiration, infallibility, or inerrancy of the Scriptures. No TE or RE would say that he no longer subscribes to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) or the Larger and Shorter Catechisms; but this my friends, without doubt, is happening regularly."
- "The sponsors of the Revoice conference 'would rather blow up the PCA than deny their own lusts.'"
- "The PCA cannot afford either to endorse the Revoice message or even to stand by inactive as conferences like these are held in our churches," Richard D. Phillips writes ("Revoice and the 'Idolatry' of the Nuclear Family").
- "The fact that the PCA 'debated' whether to adopt something like the Nashville Statement and the vote was something like 800-500 tells you how bad the cancer is," Toby Sumpter writes. "This was not a victory for conservatives. It was a biopsy of the denomination. The results show us that the PCA has cancer in almost 40% of its lymph nodes. This is stage 4, and apart from radical chemo repentance, this cancer metastasizes and the PCA is dead."
- "The PCA is sick and nothing other than the Spirit working through the denomination will save her," Andrew Dionne writes. "Greg Johnson, the man who urged his session to host the first Revoice conference and who recently came out on the pages of Christianity Today, used a heap of emotional manipulation to argue against the adoption of the Nashville Statement. Note the weaponized victimhood and the applause [including from some liberal Oklahomans] that followed his speech. Following the GA, as we noted, Johnson claimed victory for the homosexualists in the PCA." [All the Warhorn posts on the PCA are worth reading.]
- "The heart remains soft towards Greg Johnson, brother in Christ, but with regard to Greg Johnson, minister in the PCA, the mind cannot help but find several fundamental problems, Jonathan Barlow writes. "Is it too great a task for God to help Greg Johnson love a particular woman, even in the midst of his general inclinations? Would any pastor in attendance at the General Assembly encourage a parishioner to approach his or her life in the way Johnson has chosen to walk—sure of what God cannot do, constraining hope to what Professor Experience tells us about our lives by sight rather than basing hope on the mighty arm of God by faith? Is this how Pastor Johnson counsels members of his own flock when they face sins (or temptations to sin) that alienate them from God’s good plan for us?" Moreover, "Johnson’s confessions raise the necessity of studying the trajectory of denominations who, in the past, have ordained openly gay, yet celibate Christians as ministers."
- "The alternative to Revoice spirituality," Jonathan Master writes, "is one which points to the need for conversion—repentance from sin and a turn to the Truth—coupled with a life of worship shaped by these words: 'Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.'"
- Dr. Peter Jones and Joshua Gielow provide a recap of the Revoice conference.
- "If the Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran teaching on continence is the same as that which the Larger Catechism teaches concerning the 7th commandment," Jeffrey Windt writes, "it leaves me to wonder whether some of the Spiritual Friendship and/or Revoice proponents in the PCA might not have some significant disagreement with the Westminster Standards on this issue and all other implicated areas as well."
- "For 45 years the PCA has stood for the gospel," the online magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America notes, "and in the past decade, the denomination has begun thinking seriously about applying the gospel to social issues. In doing so, [PCA pastor and historian Sean Michael] Lucas is concerned that we might follow the path of progressives in the previous generation and lose the gospel."
- "Revoice’s well-meaning empathy to the gay culture...must be thoughtfully examined," Dr. Peter Jones writes. "I believe it can only accelerate a cultural decline into paganism."
- Albert Mohler's biggest concern with the Revoice conference "is the acceptance of the idea that our sexual identity or any individual's sexual orientation becomes a defining issue that isn't changed by the gospel and isn't transformed by sanctification."
- "The PCA is supposed to be one of the stalwart evangelical denominations, and we all looked away for a minute and then blammo," Douglas Wilson writes. "Revoice is a plain and naked play to make open effeminacy an acceptable option for PCA members in good standing."
- Revoice "is normalizing homosexuality in conservative churches," Shawn Mathis writes.
- "The Revoice conference’s programming and the casual embrace of finding one’s identity in what the Scriptures prohibit," Andrew T. Walker writes, "seems to be an enormous miscalculation with real-world implications."
- "Seminaries corrupt the church by first corrupting their pastors," Tim Bayly and Andrew Dionne write. "This is the only explanation needed for the condition of the Presbyterian Church in America today."
- "The Revoice conference is the advance team doing the prep work for future and far more glaring compromises," Douglas Wilson writes ("Hey, Fancy Boy").
- The PCA refused to discipline a City Church pastor who is now leading souls to Hell.
- "The problems facing the PCA today are those the Roman Catholic church has been facing for many decades now."
- The PCA's good-faith efforts to address historic racism are falling into wokeness and critical race theory, Miles Smith warns.