Thursday, August 6, 2015

The PCA Has a Lot of Repenting to Do

It's a Heavy Load

 The Bayly Blog has published a piece by Lucas Weeks, an assistant pastor at Clearnote Church, in which he argues that the root of abortion is feminism. He contends that the PCA soft-peddles feminism; thus the PCA is complicit in the acceptance of and practice of abortion. The PCA needs to repent:
We must never forget that the blood sacrifice for feminism is abortion, and if we really desire to live in a nation free from the bloody slaughter of abortion, we must repent of our feminism. Regardless of the brand of feminism we're talking about, the vampire that has been feeding on the blood of our children for decades was unleashed by our sexual sin and our rebellion against the very simple and easy to understand words of Scripture regarding manhood and womanhood. Whether it's the hard-core leftist feminism of Camille Paglia and Sallie Tisdale, or the soft-peddled feminism that's increasingly common in the PCA, or even the Sarah Palin style of feminism within the GOP, the rejection of God's clear Word is the same.

In the discussion that followed among those who have not offended the patriarchs of patriarchy to the point of being banned one brother questioned Weeks' words about the PCA. This provoked Fr. Tim himself to write even stronger words, taking aim at one of his favorite targets, Tim Keller: 
To say that conservative Reformed denominations like the PCA are responsible for the continuation of abortion in our country is an unassailable truth, as I see it. The most influential pastor of the PCA brags about not preaching against abortion and claims this is an effective tool in opposing abortion. But of course, every pastor knows why we avoid preaching against abortion, and it's not because we believe it's an effective technique in stopping abortion. 
So that pastor and all the many pastors who mimic him in his conflict avoidance are responsible for little babies being killed in their congregations who would have lived had their pastors warned their mothers and fathers (and grandmothers and grandfathers) not to murder their unborn. As Pastor Weeks wrote, this is the fruit of feminism. Preaching against abortion is seen as anti-women's-rights and male pastors will do almost anything to avoid any accusation that we're anti-women's-rights. 
But it's a self-perpetuating thing in that the blood of abortion is the engine that drives feminism, so as PCA pastors avoid preaching against both feminism and abortion, they have more blood on their hands and that blood drives more feminism and more abortion.
 But this is just the beginning of PCA and other conservative Reformed pastors' complicity in abortion. We have not preached the Biblical calling and godliness of wifehood and motherhood to our young women, but instead called them to pursue academic and financial success ("excellence"). This, too, causes abortions to increase in the PCA. I would go on. There are tons of abortions within PCA and other Reformed congregations and many of them are the direct result of pastors not being faithful to oppose feminism—both abortion's cause and its result.
Pastor Weeks was not "libelous," dear brother. He was only stating the simple truths that those of us who are pastors and have read Acts 20 have dogging our consciences all the time: 
Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:26-31). 
Like every conservative Reformed denomination, the PCA is filled with a kinder and gentler feminism that is often promoted and otherwise simply left alone by pastors and elders. And there is not one single bit of feminism that does not add to the death toll of our unborn children in such a direct way as to have to work very hard not to see it. Let me put it this way: every single diminution of the Biblical doctrine of the sacred calling of motherhood leads to the murder of unborn children. Every single diminution of the Biblical doctrine of the sacred calling of fatherhood leads to the murder of unborn children. That's how prevalent sacrifices to Molech are in our day, and they are common in Israel (the PCA) as well as in Canaan. But we avert our eyes not wanting to know how many abortions have been committed by the members of our own families and flock.
Let me put it this way: one of the most effective things we could do to root out this bloodshed in our midst (our congregations and families) would be to put back in our marriage ceremonies the bride's vow to obey that feminism browbeat pastors into taking out of their marriage ceremonies three or four decades ago. If someone says they can't see how this would suppress the slaughter of the unborn, they don't understand Scripture or the power of God.
The PCA is guilty of promoting abortion because the PCA holds to (a relatively mild sort of) feminism which in turn is caused by the PCA's unwillingness to declare the a woman's place is in the home and under her husband's thumb. 

But abortion, feminism, and failure to preach and practice patriarchy are not the only sins of which the PCA is guilty. The PCA also bears the guilt of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and racism. This week Dr. Sean Lucas one of the authors of the Resolution on Civil Rights Remembrance, posted this statement on Facebook:
I have to admit: not sure how a white person can read any history of race in America & not think there's a lot to repent of & apologize for.
As would be expected the discussion turned to the PCA and her complicity in race-based sins and her need to confess and repent. Ken Pierce explained the significance of the PCA's being a "continuing" church, the heir of the Southern Presbyterian Church:
Our denomination is quite consciously a continuing church, beginning as a remnant of Southern Presbyterianism, with all that implies, good and bad. Nearly all our historic churches are in the Deep South. It's not about a war or states' rights, but the fact that our churches barred fellow Christians from membership and worship, even while providing cover and venues (like suddenly discovering Christian education after Brown) for the most violent and hateful aspects of the anti civil rights movement, all in the name of Christ. Now, we would rather not acknowledge that fact. Many if not most would rather those things not be known. When they are known, we expect those wronged to get over it, to grant repentance without any acknowledgement of guilt on behalf of our churches. I think that's misguided.
 Jim Meek pointed out that members of the PCA have benefited from slavery and imposed segregation, both of which contribute to the present plight of blacks, and that there were segregationists and segregated churches at the founding of the PCA: 
I believe that we all do have things to acknowledge responsibility for.  
My ancestors owned slaves. The entire southern and national economies benefited from the labor of slaves in the South (and, yes, Northerners owned slaves as well). Slaves were generally prohibited from marrying by state laws and their owners, overturning God's intention that two should become and remain one and lastingly damaging the social fabric in black communities. Slaves were generally prevented from receiving education (by law), ensuring generations of poverty and struggle. Even many who did not own slaves, in both north and south, viewed blacks as a distinctly inferior race, and treated them accordingly. The consequences of the importation of African slaves into this country and their destructive treatment remain with us to this day. It seems to me that all of this makes most of us complicit in the conditions faced by African-Americans in the U.S. today. 
Further, we now see brothers and sisters around us poorly educated, poorly employed, suffering injustice, lacking decent housing and healthcare, and struggling in so many ways as they lack the good things we enjoy and seek for ourselves. "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity in them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (1 John 3:17). Even those who reject any corporate responsibility for the past and its continuing applications today, are we not as a society, church, and individuals responsible to extend significant and concrete care to brothers and sisters, as well as others, around us? 
Finally, yes, the PCA began after the high point of the civil rights movement. But a number of founding leaders and churches had a long histories supporting segregation and brought that history and outlook with them into the PCA; in fact, that was one of the primary reasons for their separation from the PCUS and their participation in the founding of the PCA. When I was church planting in Louisiana in the early 1980s, one family for another PCA church (in another city) was disturbed to learn that this new church would be open to black members: "we thought this was going to be a conservative church." That view at the time, was all too common, that the PCA was and would be not only conservative theologically but also conservative socially and politically (i.e.. segregationist). So, yes, this is part of the PCA's heritage and historical identity. And if that is sin, it is something that the PCA should be sure it has adequately repented of pursued reconciliation for with the brothers and sisters we and our forefathers wronged. Have we really done everything that we need to do to make sure these brothers and sisters (and others) recognize our repentance and perceive genuine welcome among us and acts of assistance from us? Until we are sure this is the case, it seems clear to me that we must continue to discuss how to state and implement our repentance.
So far as I can tell the confession the PCA is called on to make is that it is guilty not only of racial injustice within itself but also in society, not only that it (some of its members?) worked actively against racial reconciliation but also that it failed to support the Civil Rights movement, and that not acknowledging this failure of not doing the right thing during the Civil Rights movement is a hindrance to the reconciliation with African Americans it is obligated to seek:
... many of our conservative Presbyterian churches at the time not only failed to support the Civil Rights movement, but actively worked against racial reconciliation in both church and society...
 ... our denomination’s continued unwillingness to speak truthfully about our failure to seek justice and to love mercy during the Civil Rights era significantly hinders present-day efforts for reconciliation with our African American brothers and sisters...
..the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize and confess our church’s covenantal and generational involvement in and complicity with racial injustice inside and outside of our churches during the Civil Rights period...
It is clear that what is desired goes well beyond sins of which the church as church is guilty. It would be one thing to state: "Some of our churches refused to admit black persons to worship and failed to receive them as members on the same basis as they received persons of other races. This we confess was wrong, and we repent." It is another thing for the church to  say: "We are responsible for our own sins as a denomination and as member churches. We are also complicit in and therefore guilty of the sins of society. Moreover, we were wrong not to support the Civil Rights movement and for the offense this failure continues to give to our African American brethren."

It's a heavy load of sin and guilt the PCA must bear. Sins of commission: abortion, feminism, slavery, segregation. Sins of omission: failure to promote patriarchy and the Civil Rights movement.  It makes one think of the PCA as the New Testament replacement for Israel as the Old Testament suffering servant bearing its own and the world's sins. 

1 comment:

Matt Redmond said...

1) I love this with all my heart.

2) (deleted)