Problems in the PCA?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by etexas, May 24, 2008.

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  1. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I am doing this Thread after seeing some comments in another, I am lucky to be in a rock solid PCA congregation, and I do hope the discourse is done in Christian charity and is reasonable rather than a :worms: Question, does the PCA "truly" have more problems than other conservative, orthodox Presbyterian Bodies, OR, are the problems in my beloved PCA "magnified" for lack of a better word, by the fact that the PCA now numbers around 300,000 members? I might be a little biased but my inclination is the latter. Did the Lord not warn that the Enemy sows Tares among the wheat, and if so in a "large field" we will in point of fact see this perhaps more clearly? What say ye my Brethren?:detective::popcorn:
  2. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I'm thinking about posting a detailed account of my PCA Church Trial. I figure if I do it with no names, and no guessing motivation, and only post things that are public anyway is should be allowed by the rules here. That would give an idea of what is currently practiced in the PCA, in terms of WCF standards, BCO standards, etc...

    Look for a separate thread, which will start with me complaining about a young man who refused to baptise his two infants and was himself never baptised being ordained as an officer in the PCA, made "Coordinator of Missions" and ended up me being called Demon possessed by the Pastor from the pulpit, and the local leadership of the Northern California Presbytery supporting him.
  3. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Okay, okay.
    It's like this, In my humble opinion. All churches will have problems. All congregations will have problems, and the presbyteries and general assemblies too, because we are sinful and the devil is always trying to destroy the witness of the church in the world and to discourage members of the invisible Church. (Believe me, it can get personally very discouraging, I know from experience!) The church will always be like this until the return of Christ, then we'll find out what is was supposed to be like.

    I don't think the PCA is any worse-off than any other Reformed denomination. The only one I'd really be worried about is the CREC, because so many who couldn't get their theology past the governing bodies of their denominations have taken refuge there.
  4. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: and Amen!
  5. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

  6. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

  7. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    In my humble opinion, there are a lot of issues that are treated within liberty of conscience in the PCA, which should be so treated, that would have binding rules one way or the other in, say, the OPC.

    This is anecdotal, but one time in nominating men for office in my former OPC church, I was told by the then-pastor that he would not support candidates who smoked or were in his opinion too fat.

    I'm sorry, but I couldn't find anything on things like that in the Biblical criteria for office.

  8. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    LOL. I have met some pretty good "chunky" Pastors in my day.:lol:
  9. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Well, I can't be an elder anyway, so I might as well have some cheescake! Or maybe a cigar? ;)
  10. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    As far as the problems in the PCA I do believe they emerge from many of the same problems that hit our culture. Thanks to the powerful work of the Existentialists and the Romantics there has been a great emergence of the self and especially the interrogatory autonomy of the self that places self above the group in such a way that the group is no longer the driving force in the relationship. In other words the autonomous self is given power that it never had before in such a manner hat does not allow the individual to be convicted of the power and authority given to the body to make decisions and for lack of a better word control the life of the individual. I for one am a believer in the fact that democracy is dangerous and outright damaging within the context of the body of Christ.
  11. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    BP, are you saying that democracy is more at work in the PCA than the OPC; and if not, what was your point, as I fear I may have missed it?

  12. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    In my limited experience of being involved the Reformed communities I have noticed several things. There seems to be tension amoung the more strongly confessional groups (Dutch Reformed, OPC, and true Reformed Baptists) and more mondern day calvinists who are confessional but are more open to disagreement (T4G types, PCA, Founder's movement, Sovereign Grace, ect...). Both are apart of the Reformed tradition but there are differences on cultural mentalities. I do think this is especially true in America and is growing in the UK and Australia. In America, in calvinistic evancelicism, there is the new groups and the old fundamentalist groups. There is friendly tension. We see this here on the board. I think the PCA is struggling with direction it want to be in. They don't want to be too much like the Sovereign grace people, they don't want to become the OPC, but they are afraid deathly (and rightly so) of returning to the PCUSA and becoming like them (even though there is no evidence so far of this by God's grace).
  13. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    My point was more the milieu of the American conscience than a specific denominational identity.
  14. Cotton Mather

    Cotton Mather Puritan Board Freshman

    I deleted my first post since it might have veered from the original purpose of the thread. I must have misunderstood. My apologies.
    Last edited: May 24, 2008
  15. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Well glad you found your way to the ARP.
  16. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, good question, is it more of a problem in the PCA than other bodies OR is it more amplified given the sheer number of PCA Churches?:detective: I would for the sake of my Thread like to avoid the whole "I had a bad experience in a PCA Church." It undermines the broader focus of this, for every "bad" PCA church I could probably find 5 orthodox PCA bodies.
  17. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    So we'll have to get to concrete examples.
  18. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, Brother I am not trying to "smother" discourse OR downplay a bad PCA experience, that is outside of the focus of this thread, I am trying to deal with the PCA as a denomination in a broad sense. I hope you understand Brother.:handshake:
  19. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Or maybe we could spend our Lord's Day preparation in a better fashion than trying to find out what is so horrible about various denominations. I could certainly give many examples of what is wrong with the PCA. I could very easily do the same with the OPC. It might not be the same things, but there would be things. So the ARP. So also the Presbyterian.... church or whatever.

    Max, stop worrying. As you said, thank the Lord for where he has placed you now.
  20. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Fred, my Brother, I am not trying to find horrid things (you know me better) I think done in a proper way can edify and build understanding, that is actually a hope of this thread, with that in focus I can think of few ways better than preparing for Our Blessed Lord's Day, so long as this is conducted in true Christian Charity. Grace and Peace my Friend.
  21. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    Pardon the social science observations of a Baptist who is supposedly a specialist in organizational behavior (with a genuine M.A. in the field too!). My intent is NOT to speak to the actual culture of the PCA (pretty presumptuous for a Baptist), merely to make some quick analytical observations about typical organizational behavior as it applies to the question being asked.

    It is my understanding that the history of the PCA was constituted through a flight from more liberal denominations over issues such as inerrancy and Christology. Both in the original context of the early 70s and with the additions in the early 80s, the churches were mainly part of more liberal groups and wanted to keep their conservative identity. In this sense the ethos was shaped by a combination of the somewhat latitudinarian praxis in the parent bodies coupled with conservative theological convictions. Since then, the emphasis has been placed on expansion into suburban settings.

    Judging by the originally more "relaxed" practice of the parent denominations and by the effort to penetrate the suburban American culture, it is not surprising that PCA congregations would be somewhat more open to "innovations" than some of the smaller and more insular Reformed denominations. Whether with the church growth movement of the 80s or the Willowcreek-ization of the evangelical church since then, "Shine Jesus Shine" approaches have become the currency of the land.

    In my own group, which fairly recently broke away from a mainline denomination over issues of inspiration of the Bible and homosexuality, our experience may prove analogical, or at least instructive. As treasurer of the organization, I can testify to the fact that we work very hard NOT to be our ecclesiastical parent. However, some of the ethos, the practices, and elements of the corporate culture (or corporate DNA if you will) continued with us into the new body. Outside of the issues which led to our separation, we tend to be blind to other negative elements of the mainline group we emerged from.

    Since the PCA grew out of disgruntled conservatives from more liberal groups and has been committed to an aggressive program of church expansion, it should not be surprising that so much of the "Shine Jesus Shine" approach has crept into the Presbyterian fold.

    So, what implications can we draw from this mini-history in terms of the original question?

    1. Groups involved in ecclesiastical splits (whether local congregations or larger groups) typically carry a bit of the pugilistic flavor of separtistic divisiveness with them. Such a negative ethos continues for a long time. That is why so many congregations that angrily split give rise to other congregations with problems of divisiveness.

    2. On the other hand, the smaller Reformed groups tended to keep their identity, often shaped by ethnic factors, into the present. They were often more homogeneous and maintained their confessional identity as central to their corporate ethos. Groups such as this may be expected to objectify the "other" as an outsider to the tradition. Strangers would be suspect as possible threats to the tradition. Insofar as insiders behave like outsiders, they would likely be viewed as traitors or prodigals.

    3. What do you expect? They are all Presbyterians, after all! Like Baptists, they are famous for their cantankerous inability to get along. It has something to do with deleterious impact of the fall on our volition and emotions, I think.

    4. In addition to #3 above, the PCA might suffer from two negatives: the left over spirit of division they began with AND the unexamined openness to modern innovations "inherited" from their original denominations. Both of these realities can create problems in a congregation. The smaller Reformed bodies, being definitionally more insular, will be bedeviled by the irritating "know it all" spirit of criticism common to both Reformed expressions of Christianity and sociologically smaller bodies.

    So, they both have problems! Welcome to the real world! :lol:

    At this point, however, they ALL sound better than where I have come from! Better an intramural debate over details of the RPW or being EP than livng with apostates who ordain homosexuals and believe all roads lead to heaven!
  22. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Interesting! A lot to chew on, and thank you Dennis, as a Baptist, your observations bring a perspective that we as Presbyterians might overlook, not seeing the forest for the trees as it were! :think:
  23. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    I should have given an example in my last post.

    The ABCUSA holds an almost doctrinal adherance to the idea that eschatology is a matter of individual opinion, takes a laissez faire approach to charismatic things (although the vast majority of ABC folks firmly disagree with all things charismatic), and believes in the ordination of women, probably more than in the deity of Christ.

    When we separated from the ABC, we were pretty clear on the authority of the Bible, the wrongness of gay ordination, and united against universalism -- against the ethos of the ABC which commonly accepts all three (whether actively or passively). However, our successor organization retains numerous elements of ABC culture. For instance, when we met with another Baptist body to explore the possibility of organizational union, guess what? The "deal breakers" were not in the areas of an orthodox understanding of Biblical authority, ordination of practicing gays, or universalism. We were one on all three points. However, coming out of the ABC, we retained other facets of the culture, specifically a tendency for a strong percentage (if not an actual majority) or our pastors to refuse to foreclose eschatological options, to want to leave open the door on charismatic matters, and to be generally in favor of the ordination of women.

    My observation is that the very different histories of the PCA and some of the other smaller Reformed bodies helps explain the distinctly different cultures.
  24. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    Really! Well, there were a lot of issues in which "things mean exactly what I say they mean, no more, no less," with this guy. Like, Alice in Wonderland. I'm not painting the whole OPC with that brush; I'm just relating my experience.
  25. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Save me a piece too? mmmmm cheesecake...... :lol:
  26. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    That's the same in the PCA as well. A Session can decide not to accept the candidacy of anyone they don't like for any reason, but there is a recourse in that the congregation can over rule their decision by a special vote.

    There seems to be a generational difference in the PCA, with older people who've been through the battles over neo-Orthodoxy in particular and younger men who are fond of Barth-lite NPP teachings as well as Emergent leanings. In our congregation even the only ruling Elder wouldn't baptise his child until I started writing letters, and they rejected the candidacy of everyone people nominated or were considering nominating. One guy reads Rushdoony books, so he was out, another was asked to withdraw his candidacy for no given reason, etc...which is all allowable.

    And now there seems to be an attempt to reel in Presbyteries that are doing things like making women, baptists and Arminians officers or this new "unordained officers" deal. Things that the founders of the PCA never addressed. Now we'll have to see if it's gone too far to change without loosing more congregations to other denominations like the CRC.

    One wonders how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the PCA has already lost by churches we've planted who have left on their own for these reasons. If for no other reason than that some things will have to be addressed.
  27. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know if it is a problem but all but one of the PCA churches in KC tend to be kind of emerging. Not the McLaren type but the Driscoll type, they are trying to be relevant in our culture. Again, I don't know if this is good or bad this seems to be the wave of the future.

    Most members of these churches do not even know they are going to a Presbyterian church. They were attracted to the contemporary style worship and relaxed atmosphere.

    Eating and drinking during the service, getting up during the preaching to refresh your cappuccino or get another bagel. But again this seems to be the way most churches are going.
  28. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    That sounds more like Hybels/Warren-style "seeker sensitivity" than anything I'd associate with "emerging" churches.
  29. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, in fairness I visited an OPC, congregation, where people had coffee cups under the chairs, during a service, so sadly I must say this is not just some PCA thing, but a (sad) reflection of how even good churches are following cultural trends. Grace and Peace.
  30. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    That was probably the most difficult thing for the kids after having grown up in South African reformed churches. The total disrespect for the house of God that you so often see. The getting up just after the service starts with false smiles to shake hands with the guy next to you and wandering around until you're called back; "passing the peace" I guess you call it, the wandering in late with coffee in your hand, women whispering to each other etc..was so dramatically different from what they were used to that the older boys hated going. I'd hear them talk about "liberals" and so forth.

    In SA you just don't come late, otherwise the pastor will stop the sermon and correct you. Nobody thought of eating or drinking, people wore shoes (how radical!!) women ran the nursery instead of an Elder and when God's word is read you stand up because you are hearing the edict of a great King.
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