Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The PCA vs. the PCA

Here is an illustration of my theory that soon the PCA will have a split. The Mississippi Valley Presbytery Report on the Federal Vision came back with an extremely negative outlook. In fact, it condemned it. After pressure they added quotes to prove their contentions, and this included a great many quotes from ministers in good standing. In response, the Louisiana Presbytery has “publicly exonerated” Rev. Wilkins, whose church helped instigate this entire controversy. Not only that, he was also unanimously declared to be faithful to the confessional standards of the PCA. This puts two presbyteries of the PCA against each other. One clearly saying the Federal Vision is a deviation from the Bible and the Westminster and the other saying that the Federal Vision is acceptable and faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith. One condemns certain leaders of the movement, the other exonerates them, neither with a proper trial. A dividing line appears to have been clearly drawn in the sand. How the PCA can rectify this problem and reconcile these two presbyteries is beyond me. If they can’t be squared away, then a split seems inevitable. Doctrinal unity is gone, only organic unity remains in the PCA. How long will that last. If I were guessing, the PCA, as we know it, won’t see 2010.

4 Comments:

Anonymous said...

But the MVP report was really weak on any real use of the Confession or catechisms. It made its claims by staying vague.

Andrew McIntyre said...

Well, the world certainly does not need more spin off denominations. I am not sure they will split. Larger denominations have such problems continually, as full doctrinal unity is basically impossible with such numbers, especially when one considers the extreme detail of the Westminster Standards. I suppose it will become a problem if it is elevated to the General Assembly. But, then, they will probably just dance around the issue. Many in the PCA probably think they can stall or wait it out, as such heresies have a tendency to find their own demise (ala radical theonomy).

Andrew

Lee said...

Andy,
I agree the PCA usually takes a wait and see attitude, but I disagree that the Federal Vision heresy will blow itself away. Thus, I think the conservative or ‘TR’ element in the PCA will end up splitting off from the PCA. To me this is different than the radical theonomy in a couple of ways. One, it should be noted that many theonomists are now Federal Visionists, so whether that problem went away or not can be argued. Second, theonomy never gained acceptance in the major seminaries where Federal Vision/Shepherdism seems to have taken hold in or at least been accepted as okay. Third, the Federal Vision redefines core doctrines that makes it more odious than the radical theonomy movement that probably would have still agreed with Justification by faith alone.
While I am not an expert on PCA polity, it is hard to deny the power of the Presbyterian Pastoral Leadership Network, headed up by Bryan Chapel and the Covenant Seminary gang. They pushed through their agenda a few years ago, and appear to me to be in control of General Assembly. So, I think it a bad omen when Bryan Chapel came out with kid gloves, and seemed very accepting of the Federal Vision and New Perspectives as legitimate expressions of Presbyterianism. Plus, the Missouri Presbytery containing St. Louis has a few very active Federal Vision leaders. All add up to a bad sign, and I have a hard time believing the ‘TR’ group of the PCA will be able to swallow it for long.

Andrew McIntyre said...

Lee,

Very good points. Perhaps you are right. While I am not one to advocate tolerance of heresy, I would also hate to see yet another church split especially in the largest, most influencial Reformed denomination in the nation. I don't think the TRs should leave. I think they should stay and fight.

Andrew