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PCA protects homosexual elder Greg Johnson

In early July, the Presbyterian Church in America passed Overture 23 at their General Assembly. Despite this landmark decisive win against the Revoice Movement, the momentum of this occasion did not lead to the ousting of Greg Johnson, a teaching elder at Memorial Presbyterian Church in the St. Louis area, close to the flagship Covenant Theological Seminary. In July of 2018, Greg Johnson’s church hosted the first Revoice Conference. A year later, a complaint would be filed by teaching elder Ryan Speck. After a lengthy church court process, the highest judicial body in the PCA, the Standing Judicial Commission, ruled in favor of the Missouri Presbytery who dismissed charges against Greg Johnson by a vote of 16 to 7 with one absent. The final decision explains:

While TE Greg Johnson has, at times, neglected to do all he could to clarify the meaning of his views and teaching, nevertheless, we the Missouri Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, judge each of these allegations made against him to be untrue and find no warrant for a trial since we find no strong presumption of guilt [on any of the four allegations].

Allegation 1: Denies that same-sex-attraction is sinful and thereby fails to properly distinguish misery from the sin which give rise to it. (Presbytery voted 44-1-4 to find no strong presumption of guilt for this Allegation.)

Allegation 2: Compromises and dishonors his identity in Christ by self identifying as a same-sex-attracted man. (43-1-6)

Allegation 3: Denies God’s purpose and power to sanctify SSA believers by minimizing the pursuit of orientation change from homosexual to heterosexual. (41-2-8)

Allegation 4: Cannot meet the biblical “above reproach” qualification for the eldership since (a) homosexual inclinations are sin proper and are more heinous for being “against nature,” and since (b) TE Johnson identifies as a homosexually inclined man. (41-6-4)

The SJC ruled that the allegations were not an accurate summary of Greg Johnson’s views on the first three counts. The SJC approved the decision on the following roll call vote:

  • Bankson Dissent
  • M. Duncan Dissent
  • Neikirk Concur
  • Bise Dissent
  • S. Duncan Dissent
  • Nusbaum Concur
  • Cannata Concur
  • Ellis Concur
  • Pickering Concur
  • Carrell Concur
  • Greco Dissent
  • Ross Concur
  • Chapell Concur
  • Kooistra Concur
  • Terrell Concur
  • Coffin Concur
  • Lee Concur
  • Waters Concur
  • Donahoe Concur
  • Lucas Absent
  • White Dissent
  • Dowling Dissent
  • McGowan Concur
  • Wilson Concur
 

This decision came in light of the momentum of Overture 23, which although is not officially in the Book of Church Order, the governing PCA constitution, is a good indication of how the BCO should be interpreted. Yet the supermajority ruled in favor of Revoice.

Overture 23 reads:

16-4 Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.”

Overture 23 makes it clear that Greg Johnson was unqualified to be a pastor the final complaint against him. This is without a doubt a huge victory for he Revoice Movement. This decision further raises the concern of whether the PCA is too far gone. Despite the grassroots rejection of the likes Greg Johnson, the highest judicial body supported him overwhelmingly by not even allowing the complaint to go to trial. If Overture 23 becomes ecclesiastical law, we can likely expect a great struggle in enforcing it. Despite the big win, the battle continues.

[Editor’s note: This topic was a reader tip.]

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