Sometimes We Have to Ask: “Can We All Just Get Along?”

Can promoters of Revoice and confessional Presbyterians coexist in the same denomination?

Coexistence didn’t work.  Liberals cried for tolerance until they had enough power to demand that everyone agree with them.  The PCUSA now ordains transvestites, non-gender-binaries, and open atheists, but there is one position they will not tolerate – – anyone who questions women’s ordination. 

 

In “Revoice, the PCA, and a Way Forward?” Pastor Todd Bordow wrote, “I think both sides could coexist in the same denomination while still maintaining their convictions.”  He then goes on to enumerate ways in which he thinks both sides can show greater respect for one another to achieve that goal. While I despise schism, I am at a loss to see how promoters of Revoice and confessional Presbyterians can coexist in the same denomination.

At its first General Assembly in 1973, the PCA declared, “A diluted theology, a gospel tending towards humanism, an unbiblical view of marriage and divorce, the ordination of women, financing of abortion on socio-economic grounds, and numerous other non-Biblical positions are all traceable to a different view of Scripture from that we hold and that which was held by the Southern Presbyterian forefathers.”  It was this different view of Scripture that led them to believe they could no longer coexist in the PCUS.

Sadly, like the PCUS, the PCA seems to have become ashamed over its forefathers’ errors to the degree that it tolerates many of the same positions it rejected in 1973.  Metro New York Presbytery pulled its overture to ordain women deacons, but it’s a moot issue.  For decades, numerous PCA churches have had elected and installed men and women as deacons.  The PCA’s Book of Church Order states the offices of elder and deacon are “open to men only,” but the progressives wink at this by not ordaining any deacon and claiming they are in compliance.  Women elders are also a moot point when “leadership teams” of elders and women are the de facto governing bodies of many churches.  I could go on to expound on recent PCA teachings on evolution, social justice, and sanctification, but I think the issues are fundamentally the same as in 1973.  If that’s true, was the PCA right to separate then, or is Pastor Bordow correct now in calling for coexistence?

I think history has proven the PCA founders correct.  The old Southern Presbyterianism was not perfect, but it was fundamentally sound in its understanding of God’s Word.  Women’s ordination, socialism, revisionist views of sexual ethics, and Adam descending from apes were all rooted in a fundamentally different view of Scripture.  That view led to a radically different faith from what the church had historically understood.  Coexistence didn’t work.  Liberals cried for tolerance until they had enough power to demand that everyone agree with them.  The PCUSA now ordains transvestites, non-gender-binaries, and open atheists, but there is one position they will not tolerate – – anyone who questions women’s ordination.

Pastor Greg Johnson, whose congregation hosted Revoice last year, has openly called what is taking place a “war” in which his opponents will lose. If one side is pursuing war and the other side is pursuing coexistence, the side pursuing war will eventually wear out the other.  It has happened in the PCUS, PCUSA, and just about every mainline denomination.  The Revoice side may moderate its language, but we need to be honest about the issues.   Will the PCA return to what it set itself to be in 1973, or should it have coexisted within the PCUS?  Should the OPC and PCA have broken fraternal relations with the Christian Reformed Church, or should they have coexisted within NAPARC?  What are denominations and ecclesiastical fellowships if they do not reflect common commitments to the Word of God?

The founders of the PCA were accused in 1973 of being hateful fundamentalists and failing to recognize the love of Jesus.  They endured such accusations, along with tears, screams, and pleas for coexistence.  They insisted they must be true to God’s Word and hold to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  They decided they could not coexist in a denomination with those who had a fundamentally different view of Scripture.  My prayer is that their heirs will do the same.

Jason Wallace is a Minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is Pastor of Christ OPC in Salt Lake City, Utah.