A Brief Response and a Modest Proposal

So while the National Partnership is intended to coordinate “active engagement in the church courts” and “staff committees”, PCA Conservatives is intended solely for discussion of whether it is time to leave the PCA. We have openly acknowledged we can’t change the direction of the denomination, and that we shouldn’t be secretly conspiring to do so.

 

I recently wrote an open letter to James Kessler and the leaders of the National Partnership. To my knowledge there has been no open reply to my letter, but one of the complaints coming from supporters of the National Partnership is that my claim that there are no conservative groups is false since there is a Yahoo Group (an email list) called “PCA Conservatives.”

Before I discuss why this is an absurd comparison, let’s review the stated aims of the National Partnership again:

First, “the National Partnership seeks to serve our denomination by active engagement in the church courts the Lord has entrusted to us.

Further the National Partnership has these stated aims:

1. Greater participation in the Polity of the PCA through church courts. We keep our members informed on presbytery work (including key votes) across the denomination and provide resources for those presbyters seeking advice.

2. Greater dedication to the work of the Assembly through preparation, committee participation and floor debate. We seek to staff committees for healthy and effective denominational business.

3. Greater love for the Brethren through resourcing and communication. We share ideas and uphold our good faith subscription to the standards, preferring charitable and respectful dialogue over the action of courts in settling theological differences.

Now let’s discuss the PCA Conservatives email list which according to the list rules was started for:

Conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Teaching and Ruling Elders concerned about the leftward drift in the denomination who are interested in discussing whether we should remain in the denomination, leave for another denomination, or form a new denomination.

The email list rules also include an ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION (which I have yet to see quoted by critics) on exactly the kind of insider politicking the National Partnership was explicitly started to promote:

Please also note that this group [PCA Conservatives] is NOT for discussing or making plans for the future of the PCA, as conservatives clearly cannot affect that in any meaningful way. It is merely for discussing our future and that of our congregations.

So while the National Partnership is intended to coordinate “active engagement in the church courts” and “staff committees”, PCA Conservatives is intended solely for discussion of whether it is time to leave the PCA. We have openly acknowledged we can’t change the direction of the denomination, and that we shouldn’t be secretly conspiring to do so.

The huge difference at this point should be obvious, and to even have brought up as if it was a parallel seems to me to be adding insult to injury. If I can make another analogy, at this point I feel a little like a spouse in a dysfunctional marriage who has found out her husband has started yet another secret affair, and who is being told she’s “just the same” because she’s had discussions with other spouses in abusive marriages about which shelters for battered women might be willing to take them in.

But in order to try to make the best of a bad situation, I’ll make yet another open offer to the leaders of the National Partnership. If you’ll dissolve the National Partnership, I’ll gladly delete the PCA Conservatives Yahoo Group.

Let me know if you’re interested.

Andy Webb is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church America and serves as Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, NC.