Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Auburne Ave, the PCA, and Unity

The Auburn Ave Conference took place this past weekend. It will be interesting to get ‘the buzz’ in the upcoming days. This conference really helped bring out the controversy over Justification in the past several years. Pastor Wilkins and the Conference boldly go forward this year with, from all accounts, a record setting attendance for speakers Bishop N.T. Wright and Richard Gaffin. Wright is of course famous for his work in what is called the New Perspectives on Paul, and Gaffin was a vocal supporter of Norman Shepherd during his teaching stint at Westminster Seminary.

I look forward to hearing the results of this conference and posting some thoughts on the whole thing over the next few days, but let me start with one that seems so obvious that it is over looked. Rev. Wilkins, his associate pastor Rev. Lusk and really the majority of the Louisiana Presbytery are actively promoting a different doctrine concerning many things in the PCA. Regardless for now of who one thinks is right, it has to be admitted that it is a different approach, a different doctrine. The opposition of Dr. Pipa, Dr. Smith, and many others in the PCA can attest this fact. Yet, not a peep about discipline can be found. This Presbytery is in active opposition to a large group, I would venture a majority, in the PCA, yet no one seems to desire to put an end to it. Yes, there have been debates and discussions, but no real talk of shutting down the annual conference, or asking them to avoid certain themes.

The PCA is now in a situation where the Mississippi Valley Presbytery helps publish a book that specifically attacks and condemns the teachings of N.T. Wright, who the Louisiana Presbytery supports and brings to teach. As a former member I hate to say this, but the PCA appears to be in some shambles. They have trouble bringing about discipline and agreeing major matters. Before this controversy erupted in the ranks, the Presbyterian Pastors Leadership Network had seemingly taken over. They weakened subscription, made it harder for other presbyteries to ask the General Assembly to step in to discipline wayward presbyteries, and now this. It has to be said that unity among the PCA is gone. You could go to a PCA church in the South, for example, and hear Puritan style preaching and worship, go to another PCA church in Colorado Springs and get a mix of contemporary worship styles and music or even a completely “seeker sensitive” church. You could find churches that follow the Westminster strictly, others that barely follow it at all, and some who want to redefine it. It just seems a shame to me that this denomination struggles so with unity and appears no closer to finding it now than 30 years ago when they started.