Guest Author: Jon Price
Almost a week ago, the General Assembly of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) adjourned in Mobile, AL, and since then there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the notion that the PCA is on a ‘slippery slope’ to liberalism. For those outside of the PCA, you might be concerned that we’re denying the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, or that we’re questioning the divinity of Jesus Christ, or maybe even the resurrection. Let me assure you, it is none of those things. The issue that has caused such alarm is the formation of a study committee to study the Scriptures to give guidance in understanding the role of women in the life of the church, from a complementarian perspective. Much of this discussion is taking place on social media, and while there have been some humble and helpful posts, most seem to be a bit disingenuous.
I use the term disingenuous, not to say that those posting don’t have real concerns (I believe they do, and I believe they should be heard), but they are taking the position that they are Confessional, and everyone else who sees this study committee as a good idea, is not Confessional. In fact, they are progressives! Those who are confessional are fighting for the only biblical position, while everyone else is seeking to take the PCA into the hell of liberalism. That is what I find disingenuous.
The reason it is disingenuous is because it states that there is only one Confessional position, and it’s mine! When, in reality, the issue of woman’s roles (more specifically the ordination of women to the office of deacon) is not a Confessional issue. So, then why do those opposed to this get to be the ones calling themselves confessional?
As I read these arguments, it has become clear that those claiming to be the true Confessionalists, aren’t more confessional than others like myself. The reason I know this is because the most Confessional denomination in NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council) is the RPCNA (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America). The RPCNA is the most historically confessional church in this council (which the PCA is a member), and yet, those who are claiming to be the confessionalists in the PCA, would not join with this, the most confessional denomination. Why? It is because they ordain women to the office of deacon. Yes, that is right. The most confessional of all the denominations in NAPARC ordains women to the office of deacon. They have practiced this since 1888, and have done so because it was studied, and found to be biblical. They have kept their strong confessional nature all this time, while still ordaining woman to be deacons.
Those in the PCA who are claiming the moniker of Confessional, taking it from anyone else who doesn’t agree with them on the issue of women’s roles, should in fact stop being so disingenuous. Instead of confessional they are more closely identified as Old School Southern Presbyterians, which is fine. But, please stop using Confessional like you have something that no one else does. It’s disingenuous and you are making a non-confessional issue, the defining issue.
We can discuss and debate this issue, and we should. But, please stop painting others as liberal progressives, while you are defending the true faith of Confessional Christianity. I love the PCA, and I want us all to seek the peace and purity of this denomination. But, it’s hard to do that when one side is claiming something that they can’t. It shuts down discussion and conversation. It paints those like me on the other side of the issue as liberals who are trying to destroy our denomination. I’m happy to have these discussions, and I’m happy to disagree, but can we please agree that you don’t hold the naming rights of Confessional Christian.
Jon is pastor of Covenant Community Presbyterian Church in Wexford, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh.