AQUILA REPORT — 1. The toleration of Side B Gay Christianity, to include the hosting of the Revoice conference at a PCA church, the continued organizing and participation in Revoice conferences by members of the PCA, the presence of PCA pastors who have very publicly declared themselves to be “gay but celibate,” and the presence of other Side B gay-Christian candidates at the PCA’s seminary.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of my joining the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). While I was converted outside of the PCA, largely through radio ministries, it was in the PCA that I was introduced to Reformed theology, and it was in the PCA that I was mentored by very patient and very learned men. It was with the blessing of the PCA that I went to seminary, became a Ruling Elder and was eventually ordained first as a church planter, and then as the permanent pastor of that same church.
My children were born into this denomination, and baptized in it, and have never been a part of any other denomination. I have attended almost every General Assembly since 1997 and was honored to have served in Central Carolina Presbytery on both the Candidates Committee and as the moderator. At one time, I could say that almost all of my friends in the pastorate were in the PCA, and many still are.
So with all of that in mind, I hope you will believe me when I say I am sorry to announce that on Friday, December 13, 2019, the Session of Providence PCA in Fayetteville voted to recommend to the congregation that we withdraw from the PCA and affiliate with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP). The final congregational vote will be on January 19, 2020. It is, of course, possible that the congregation will choose not to leave, but I think that is highly unlikely. I may have more to say more about my reasons for leaving the PCA at a later date, but the most pressing 12 reasons for going now are as follows:
1) The toleration of Side B Gay Christianity, to include the hosting of the Revoice conference at a PCA church, the continued organizing and participation in Revoice conferences by members of the PCA, the presence of PCA pastors who have very publicly declared themselves to be “gay but celibate,” and the presence of other Side B gay-Christian candidates at the PCA’s seminary.
2) The continuing presence of openly Federal Vision (FV) pastors within the PCA despite that theology having been condemned as erroneous by the GA.
3) The fact that the presbyteries of the men I mentioned above approve of this belief and practice, and because “Good Faith” subscription allows presbyteries to determine what beliefs and practices they will allow within their bounds by a majority vote, there is precious little that can be done about it. The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) treats any decision made by a presbytery using the proper procedure as practically inviolable. I warned that this would be the bad fruit of a decision to adopt “Good Faith” subscription at the GA in 2003. At the time I said:
“Brothers, we are about to make a decision we have arrived at as quickly as we possibly could, without the erection of a study committee or even the benefit of perfecting language. Once we have made it, I fear we will never be able to take it back. Once we pass this, our presbyteries will be empowered to grant exceptions to any doctrine we confess is taught in Scripture by a simple 51% vote. Once those exceptions are granted, precedent is set, and that doctrine will never again be an impediment to the ordination of any man. Gradually, but inevitably, our standards will be eroded.”
I believe that what I feared would happen then, is in fact occurring now.
4) The realization that regardless of its conclusions, the in thesi deliverance of the Study Committee on Sexuality will have exactly the same effect as the deliverance of the FV study committee and cannot change the practice of any presbytery or pastor in the PCA
5) The conviction that Pastor Greg Johnson’s initial post-GA Twitter assessment is correct and that ‘the younger pastors entering the PCA (particularly from our denominational seminary) are much more inclined to tolerate the presence of same-sex attracted (SSA) officers and members in the PCA than the older generation;’ and that therefore Johnson is correct in his assessment that in time those forces will win what he described as the “war” in the PCA.
6) The growing presence of an aggressive and organized “semi-confidential” progressive party in the PCA with deep ties to our permanent committees.
7) The determination by the administration as voiced in their “Strategic Plan” that they do not share the same ethos as the other North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) denominations and do not see any reason to be in the same body with them, along with the realization that I and my congregation DO share that “NAPARC ethos” and wish to continue on in the same direction that the other NAPARC denominations are heading.
8) The administration’s distaste for NAPARC, and their unwillingness to hear the admonitions of other NAPARC denominations is made all the more alarming by their preference for and support of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), an increasingly left-of-center political lobbying organization with hardly any Reformed churches in its membership.
9) The growing presence of the Social Gospel, Critical Race Theory (CRT), Intersectionality, and Social Justice Warrior (SJW) preaching and teaching in the PCA and in particular in its seminary, college, and permanent committees to include electing a moderator who teaches and writes about CRT for a living.
10) The conviction that not only would the process of reforming the PCA be almost impossible, but that the forces in favor of reform are unwilling to go to the lengths that would be needed, to include removing committee heads, firing professors, mobilizing the people in the pews, withholding askings, and abandoning a policy of “niceness” in their debates and writing. At a time when we need Luthers, it seems that all we have are Bucers.