The Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) is currently undergoing its General Assembly. With the demise of the Southern Baptist Convention, the battle within the PCA, the distant second most quintessential Evangelical denomination in the United States, is the next major front for larger issues facing Christianity in the west. In the Southern Baptist Convention, the theological issues in order of imminence are Critical Race Theory, egalitarianism, and homosexuality as a distant third. While the PCA seems solid against egalitarianism, homosexuality is their biggest issue instead of Critical Race Theory. It manifests itself in the Revoice Movement which aims to redefine homosexuality to not include homosexual desires and attractions.
But while the Southern Baptist Convention did not confront Critical Race Theory in its annual convention, the PCA is poised to battle over the issue of homosexuals in ministry. Overture 23, if passed by the presbytery, would disqualify many of the Revoice proponents.
The wording of this amendment is strong. Those who profess or are known to according to their identity in sin are disqualified from ministry. This means those who identify as “celibate gay Christians” will be disqualified from ministry according. Those who call themselves queer like Art Pereira would be disqualified from ministry despite their dubious commitment to traditional Christian ethic.
Overture Committee passed the amendment 88-38-1. This exceeds the 2/3 majority threshold needed when for the Overture to pass in the assembly. The key question is whether the Overture Committee is more conservative than the General Assembly or whether it is merely a representative sample. If the latter, then the 2/3 majority will be met.
The Christians of the PCA clearly meant business, unlike the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention. They are poised to deliver a massive blow to the homosexual subversion of the authority of Scripture.
I have no dog in this fight, nor am I a Protestant, or an evangelical, but looking from the outside afar, even with this initial vote, if I understand this correctly, an 88-38-1 vote equates to 88 votes yes, 38 votes no, and 1 vote abstained? The fact then that nearly 1/3 of those who voted favored allowing avowed so called celibate (truthfully, how many celibate homosexuals have you encountered out there? Me, none) homosexual clergy in their pulpits would/should be of great concern to conservative laity and clergy in the PCA. Perhaps my evangelical brothers (minus shooting salvos across the bow, preaching, or quoting a litany of scriptures out of context) can graciously explain this number? Is it a result of woke liberalized seminaries in the PCA? Is it a result of the Gospel Coalition or the likes of Tim Keller that many in the PCA and evangelicalism venerate? Is it the influences of woke popular culture? Is it a result of the polity of the PCA, or their ecclesiology? Why is it that in scenarios like this, invariably, in Protestantism, the conservative laity and clergy are the ones forced to leave and the liberals prevail, and then the conservatives have to form yet another denomination?
You did understand the vote correctly. I would argue that homosexual clergy is not unique to protestantism as the Roman Catholic Church is way deeper in the hole. I’m not aware of other non protestant denominations. The difference is that protestant ecclessiology allows for mechanisms to combat this from the grassroots level should the institution become corrupt. So you see and hear about these issues more.
23 years ago (when I was then 40) I had my choice to continue on a dark path of Nihilism, or embrace and follow the Christian faith. My journey took me to the Eastern Orthodox Church (Antiochian Orthodox), and I never looked back.
Our polity is that we have a conciliar ecclesiology; a presbytery or synod. An ecumenical council would have to be convened for any changes to the dogma of the church. So far, there have been seven ecumenical councils (while some Protestants recognize all seven, some Protestants don’t recognize all seven, or flat out reject them, or reject that they ever existed, and the Latin Church recognizes even more they convened in their history). In the Eastern Church, divinely inspired scriptures, with holy tradition (early church fathers), resolved the issue of homosexuality long ago. As my parish priest told a group of (mostly young millennial and Gen Z men exiting Protestantism and the Western Church) catechumens “we will love homosexuals, and we will minister to them, but unless they repent, and forsake that lifestyle, they cannot be part of the sacramental life of the church”.
I would question Protestants ecclesiology as stated, as resolving such issues. While I agree that the conservative laity may have somewhat of a big stick (as in the case of the Southern Baptists in the Conservative Resurgence), and they pushed back against their then progressive seminaries, and I’m certain said conservatives affirm their faith confessions (The Baptist Faith and Message) on the issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage, their polity allows for each autonomous church to have a lot of leeway. Take for example the Southern Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia that allows openly avowed homosexuals membership. I assume, with membership (and not being under some form of church discipline), that said parishioners are then communed? The SBC has spoken of what they refer to as dis-fellowshipping with said church. Without ecclesiastical oversight (an ecclesiastical court, or court Christian) that could render defrocking, excommunication, or anathema, how effective can dis-fellowshipping be, other than the SBC Cooperative Program withholding financial support, and not accepting financial support from said progressive church? To me, it’s rattling sabers, but I’m not a Protestant either.
The explanation of the numbers is not that hard to understand when you factor in that much of leadership in the PCA, over several years, has been anaemic at best, (we certainly don’t want to offend anyone). This lack of leadership is only fed by an analogous trend among many Presbyteries and local Sessions, where those “in charge” have relinquished their responsibility to feed and equip the sheep and in turn have left their flocks confused as it relates to some of the issues you raise. In other words, the Theological push back that should be coming from the informed congregants in the pew has been tamped down and found wanting because of a lack of sound teaching from the word of God that results in a lack of confidence in the perspecuity of Scripture as it relates to these and other issues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to approach senior Pastors in the PCA and question them on simple things like why they are promoting “Contemplative” or “Emergent” authors to their congregations for use in their daily devotions. I’ve had to confront ruling Elders as they were teaching the body how certain miracles in the bible are not really miracles since the Scriptures didn’t seem to have a reliable literary tool to explain a natural occurrence that only seemed miraculous, (the plagues in Exodus). And don’t get me going on the the 2001 vote on the biblical account of creation where the GA “grappled” with the meaning of a section of the Westminster Confession of Faith that says, God created the world ”in the space of six days.” Seriously? I’ve seen this happening in the PCA since the mid 1970’s as I’ve been in and outside the PCA over the years, precisely because of the issue you raise as to why the liberals always seems to prevail over the conservatives. This is the reason; there are actually more liberals than conservatives and fighting all the time becomes tiresome when you know that the game is “fixed.” I still have friends in the PCA and some of them are conservative, but not most. I only wish them the best and despite the direction that many denominations are moving these “woke” days, Christ is still on the Throne and all glory goes to Him, and if He has to remove a few “lampstands” in the process, so be it. Maranatha!
As a member of a PCA church, I’m glad there are still some men with spines in the PCA as I have been leery of the popularity of Tim Keller in our churches. I don’t know why people love him so much. Lack of discernment is all I can come up with.
The spine could be called into question since I heard they revisited and then weakened the Overture. Will do a follow up.
Reading these articles, and the commentary, I find it interesting the ebb and flow of evangelical Protestantism over the course of my lifetime, and especially in more recent years. Gone are the days of Jack Chick tracts, the “Romans Road”, “if you died tonight and stood before God what would you say”?, and other high pressure or polemic approaches that I and others encountered back in the day. Now, younger evangelicals are telling me they’re trying to extricate themselves from that approach, while older evangelicals are telling me they are frustrated with younger evangelicals for what they perceive as indifference to evangelism, “witnessing”, and proselytizing.
When I’m driving down the street, Southern Baptist Churches have changed their names to “Great Commission Baptist Church”, or “Living Water Church”, or “Beggars Table Church”.