I’m a Southern Presbyterian

In light of a number of articles lately on a potential split in the PCA and given that some PCA churches have already decided to leave for other denominations, I thought I would like to repost an article I wrote a year ago.

Recently I was talking with others in my denomination about the challenges we face as a denomination. There is much to be proud of as a denomination. There are many, many godly pastors and elders who are leading their flocks and preaching the gospel. Many people are being discipled and growing in grace. Children are being taught the catechism and learning to love the Word. These excellent things.

But there are great challenges that we face as a denomination. Some of the greatest challenges are doctrinal ones. Federal Vision, the New Perspective on Paul, egalitarianism, theistic evolution, the historicity of Adam, and the inerrancy of Scripture are all issues that must be discussed.

As I considered this, a thought came to me. I am a southern Presbyterian. My family are southern Presbyterian back for many, many generations. We go all the way back to Scottish Presbyterians who came to South Carolina in the 1700s. In the 1970s, the PCA was formed when the southern conservatives broke off from the southern liberals. Of course, there was more to it than that, but that’s a good summary of events. Many people from all over the country have been drawn to the PCA because we are serious about upholding orthodoxy.

While I’m not suggesting that anyone leave, I had a thought about the PCA and those who wish it were different. For those who wish the PCA were more liberal or more progressive on any number of issues, there are denominations that already are that way. For those who wish the PCA would adopt Federal vision teachings, there is a denomination that already does that. For those who wish the PCA would be more strict, there are denominations that would suit too.

But what else is there for a southern Presbyterian? Where can I go? This is my denomination.

6 thoughts on “I’m a Southern Presbyterian

  1. Eileen says:

    This seems to be an everlasting issue in the church, and I don’t think there is any easy one-size-fits-all answer. When your church or denomination changes enough that your conscience is grieved, then do you stay and contend or do you depart and affiliate elsewhere or establish a new entity with others who are like-minded?

    I think that the formation of the PCA is a good argument for leaving and reforming while the conservative transformation among Southern Baptists is an argument for staying and contending. But many would disagrees with me on that…

    What is the ground for unity in the church? Where is that unity manifested and how is it manifested? Those are some questions that occur to me and which seem to be at the heart of the issues facing the PCA as a denomination as well as other churches and denominations which have unity issues.

    It seems to me that in the PCA (and I’m not PCA, full disclosure) my understanding is that there is an agreement to be bound together by confessing the truth of and pledging fidelity to certain standards as well as certain procedures. So it seems right that when one’s convictions change or one has questions with respect to those standards/procedures or how strictly those standards/procedures should be applied, then I think that the individual should depart peaceably rather than create discord among the others. The other honorable alternatives, it seems to me, are either to to bring those changes of conviction to the attention of those in authority so that they can be properly evaluated or to propose changes either to the standards/procedures or the level of fidelity required to the standards/procedures.

    • Rachel Miller says:

      Ah, Zach~

      I have great respect for the LCMS, and having been through confirmation class with the other 8th graders at Trinity-Messiah, I could probably pass confirmation. But I am a Presbyterian to the very core of my being. 🙂

  2. Anne Turner says:

    If you are in a town where your church does not influence your children so that they will grow up with correct doctrine, you could look for a different church. At a certain point leaving does become inevitable. However, with your grasp of doctrine and ability to express it concisely, I encourage you to get involved on the national level with the PCA. It’s worth fighting for.

  3. Mark Grasso says:

    The only problem with your post is that by switching from old school to new school in regards to loose subscription, the PCA ceased being a southern presbyterian denomination, at least doctrinally. How did the new school approach to subscription work out for the PCUSA?

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