What the PCA doesn’t need is another mission drift into social work and social engineering. 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.
Recently, the Chesapeake Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) approved sending an overture to the 2021 General Assembly asking it to appoint a study committee regarding white supremacy in the PCA. The authors of this overture are misled concerning their premises, and sophomoric in their reasoning. Thus, the overture is unwarranted and should be rejected.
The premise is stated on line 27, “Our denomination’s history traces its lines through this difficult and complex issue [racism/white supremacy] in the United States of America.”
The authors appear intent on guilting the Assembly into yet another motion covering the matter of racial relations, dog-whistle an oft repeated claim that the PCA was founded on white supremacy and segregationist lines. Regrettably, while they rightly note that issues in 1960s America were complex, including within Presbyterian churches, they neglect to appreciate these complexities in such a way as to come to a genuine and fair understanding of the zeitgeist of mid to late 1960s America. Instead, they retreat to overly simplistic explanations, and look to refit every issue onto the procrustean bed of “white supremacy.”
A look through the records of the Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS) during the time leading up to and during the formation of the PCA (Concerned Presbyterians, Presbyterian Churchmen United and The Presbyterian Journal) reveals that the issues that drove the formation of the new denomination were not matters of race, but rather the same issues that we are now seeing in the modern PCA; namely, mission drift away from the gospel of Jesus Christ towards the social gospel and a lack of discipline in the courts.
Were there racial issues in the 1960s? Yes. Could some of them at times have spilled at least a little into some churches? What church can keep every sinful inclination of peoples’ hearts out? However, before we go casting stones, let us remember that that our church’s fathers also lived during a time in which communists, along with their many front groups, were actively seeking to infiltrate and destroy America along with its Christianity, freedom and democracy. It was well known, even at that time, that the Civil Rights movement had been coopted by the communists to advance their agenda. For people to have looked suspiciously upon the movement is reasonable.
It is sophomoric to turn complex issues into black and white ones. In this case, historical facts have been overlooked, lopping off legs here and stretching them there, in order to make every persom fit neatly into the definition of white supremacy. All this, while casting a sanctimonious and condemnatory eye towards these men and proclaiming, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them….”
Our forefathers in the PCA were many things, I am sure. However, they were not white supremacists.
A second reason that this overture should be rejected is due to its being based on shoddy post-millennial relativistic thought.
Within a certain age group and class of Americans, post-modern relativism is alive. This includes the practice of re-defining terms. What if I told you that an influential white, upper-class millennial PCA pastor recently proclaimed on social media that he is racist? Would you not think that this man should step down from his pastoral position?
I will save you the suspense. He didn’t. Why? Because being a relativist, he was redefining the word “racist.” What he was now attributing to “racism” was the fact that he grew up in an Anglo environment, preferred a white church experience to a black one, preferred white pop music to hip-hop or rap, preferred avocado toast to ox-tail and believed that if people in America worked hard anyone can get ahead. Like a Pharisee trumpeting in the marketplace, he was able to beat his breast and piously wail, “I am a racist,” while others applauded.
Unfortunately, he is not alone in his wrongheaded ideas. Chesapeake Presbytery and many PCA clergy and members hold this same faulty thinking, which derives from Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Critical Race Theory has arose out of the depths of the pseudo-sciences that universities once merely tolerated in order to keeping money flowing in from students who had no business being in a university environment. Like Gender and LGBT Studies, it is based on self-authenticating and unfalsifiable theories. It combines the eternal sense of guilt residing in upper-middle-class white children with unfalsifiable premises to produce a diseased ideology. One of those unfalsifiable premises is that white people’s preferences and perspectives are actually just white supremacy. Let me provide a personal example of this in action.
I recently had an email exchange with a pastor in a PCA church in New York who is an advocate for CRT. This man told me that my church was not going to be acceptably non-racist in his eyes unless the congregational make up represented the exact racial makeup of our city and had more interracial marriages! Not only does this perverse and legalistic burden dismiss the fact that my congregation has worship preferences that not only differ from some black churches but also many white churches, such as those where praise and worship are central rather than the preaching of the Word; but now he is condemning my members as racist for having a preference for the type of person they marry?
I went on to explain that the church was planted in a downtown environment over twenty years ago, precisely to reach out to a diverse community, that the first pastor spent hours visiting the housing communities and praying for people, that while the church was dispensing the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ it also gave away thousands of dollars in aid to the community. What we found is that a major reason why the church doesn’t have more people from the surrounding community is because people within these communities discriminate against others for “going to that white church.” His response was that it was due to the first pastor’s “condescension and paternalism.” This is a wickedly unfalsifiable and condemning nature found in Critical Race Theory. This is CRT’s double pronged trap of guilt coupled with logical sophistry. This is what has ensnared many of our younger clergy, and it is what some hope to spread throughout the denomination.
What Chesapeake Presbytery is asking the General Assembly to do is to study something that exists only in their minds. They make claims of a number of oblique statements about “hierarchies, castes, inferiors and superiors.” Yet, most dangerously, by redefining preferences and perspectives as partiality, and partiality as white supremacy (lines 14-16), they set things into place to one-day-soon call the rank-and-file members of the PCA, in toto, white supremacists.
The reality is that PCA Churches have certain firmly held belief systems that are simply different from black churches, and from many white churches. The people who attend PCA churches do so because they prefer Word centered worship, thoughtful and deep preaching and traditional hymns. This is not white supremacy.
The people of the PCA raise their children with the Word of God. They teach them to be wise. They teach them to have character. They teach them to value things that matter, like education, frugality and having good associates. These are the marks of godliness and wisdom. These are the things that God calls on all mankind to do. These are not signs of latent racism.
What the PCA doesn’t need is another mission drift into social work and social engineering. 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. We are to proclaim the Good News of Christ who reconciles sinful man to a holy God. There is no need for this overture and it should be rejected; it is unneeded and destructive.
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.
 In the credible academic disciplines, one may advance a hypothesis, but there must be a factor, that if proven, would disprove, or “falsify,” the hypothesis. Critical Race Theory does not allow for falsifiable proofs. It merely self-authenticates its theories and uses anything and everything as yet another “proof” of its theory’s validness.