A few years ago John Piper was invited to preach at the PCA’s General Assembly. I’ve wondered what I would preach if given just one chance to address the denomination. Apparently, Piper believed what we needed to hear most that year was the importance of doctrine. Really, Piper? Doctrine? Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent sermon, but if addressing the importance of doctrine at the PCA General Assembly isn’t preaching to the choir, I don’t know what is. I was surprised that Piper picked such a safe topic, especially considering how he’s known as one who’s not afraid to ruffle feathers.
As I’ve watched the responses on the blogosphere to the proposed PCA strategic plan, it seems to me the one thing that we need to be reminded of most this year is the importance of loving our neighbor. Some of what passes as commentary on the strategic plan is little more than thinly-veiled libel and malice. Instead of judging the document on its own merit and putting the arguments and motives of its authors in the best light possible as the judgment of charity requires, some are imputing the worst motives possible.
Shortly after the PCA was formed, Francis Schaeffer published a warning to us regarding this very danger:
The failure of those who separated from the Presbyterian Church USA during the 1930’s extended beyond the loss of contact with those true Christians who stayed in the Church; it extended to the attempted organizational expression… [they] did not express or practice that mark of the Christian, the observable love among all true Christians. [emphasis added]
As we consider a strategic plan for the future, we would be wise to heed Schaeffer’s warning from the past. It’s not simply doctrinal infidelity that could put us under. Our very actions and attitudes towards each other could sink the PCA ship, even if our official doctrinal commitments remain sound.
So to all pundits who will soon become commissioners and voters, please remember: we’re not just watching what you say, but how you say it. We’ll judge the wisdom in your ideas in part by the manner in which you present them. After all, “wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:35 ESV)