Arrivederci PCA

tomb_3I was shocked to learn that there is a real pastor in the PCA who believes a compromised gospel is no gospel at all. After all the hand wringing and posturing from the so-called TRs, particularly after the PCA GA failed to right the wrongs made by the lower courts in the Jeff Meyers and Peter Leithart cases, I thought pastors like Phelps were a myth. I think when deciding whether or not to leave a denomination, particularly one like the PCA, there is always some denial mixed with the belief, no matter how misguided, that things still might get better.  There is also the belief that heresies like the Federal Vision are just a minority position and it really doesn’t matter to the big picture … or the big tent.  Look at all the great work people like Tim Keller are doing.  I mean, the PCA is now relevant and even trendy. So what if Kellerite churches are de facto ordaining women just as long as they don’t call it an “ordination.” Erosion is just as effective as revolution and progressives are expert at biding their time.

There is also the idea that the “purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error” and that Presbyterianism has a theoretical mechanism for righting theological wrongs that make reading the signs of apostasy difficult. Some things are just easier to see in hindsight.  I also think there is some TR pride involved too and the notion that things will just get worse if they leave.  No doubt they will, but the cost of staying in the PCA has become too high except, I suppose, for the hopelessly self-deluded or the seriously prideful.  As for me, I’m very much with Phelps. I was a PCA holdout a lot longer than, say, John Robbins. It took the GA’s decisions to allow the lower courts decisions to stand in the Meyers and Leithart cases that finally did it for me. But who am I?  I’m not an elder. I have no flock to protect. Yet , there were plenty of very public TR elders in the PCA who publicly threatened to leave if the Leithart case went south and none of them has.  In Phelps’ case it’s better late than never. Besides, now the PCA is in the middle of a denominational wide struggle session against the imagined sins that virtually no one in the denomination has committed.  TRs can use that to assuage their misplaced guilt for their very real failures to protect their flocks and preserve whatever purity the PCA had left.

The PCA isn’t just dead; its corpse is starting to stink.

You can read Tony Phelps’ farewell to the PCA here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Heresies, Jeff Meyers, Peter Leithart

27 Comments on “Arrivederci PCA”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    It begs the question, though, Sean: Is the PCA DOA or merely moribund?

    If the former, then must all depart out (a la TEC, Rome, et. al.)?

    If the latter, then, should not the good guys stay in and fight for the flock?

    The hireling flees because he is an hireling.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Fight for what exactly? The fight is long over. The PCA has moved on to more important issues like forcing their members to repent of racism real or imagined.

  3. Stephen Welch Says:

    Or to form study commissions to open the door for the ordination of women.

  4. Stephen Welch Says:

    I was grieved over the letter that Tony Phelps wrote. As a PCA minister myself I understand his reason for leaving the PCA. I have been greatly concerned for the direction of the PCA for a few years. I have predicted that within 10-15 years the PCA will be where the PCUSA is now. I appreciated Phelps comparison between the Westminster Standards and the Federal Vision heresy. This is the one issue that will rip the door off of the PCA. I think this is the beginning of an exodus of TE’s leaving the PCA.

  5. Hugh McCann Says:

    OK – is the PCA *becoming* PCUSA or *is* it?

  6. Hugh McCann Says:

    Luther, Machen, Barnhouse – many have stayed in and fought beyond the cause being lost.

    Should they have stayed?

    Many left the Episcopal church in the 1970s as prayer book changes and women’s ordination crept in. Many more left in 2009 to form ACNA, over the consecration of the gay bishop, Vicky Gene Robinson, and looming gay marriage.

    Should they have gone out?

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    You tell me Hugh. Sproul said “This is the Gospel people.” Now an acknowledged false gospel can be preached with impunity in the PCA. The denom is now officially yoked with unbelievers.

  8. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, I found it interesting that Tony Phelps is joining with the URCNA instead of the OPC. I think it is probably because the URC has taken a strong stand against the FV heresy.

  9. Eric Says:

    I left the PCA in 1995 because I saw the writing on the wall. There was a refusal to administer church discipline in the face of doctrinal perversions. I found the same issues in the OPC. Why would anyone go to either institution?

    There is a threefold problem as I see it, 1) the ability to discern error, 2) recognizing the gravity of it, and 3) having the stones to do something about it. All three abilities are gifts from God.

    It is obvious to me that this so-called church is operating in the power of the flesh and not in the power of God, and that the so-called elders, probably, should never have been elders in the first place. Maybe the whole thing is an excercise in the flesh.

  10. Stephen Welch Says:

    Eric, I agree. I am no longer of the opinion that the OPC is a good alternative for those leaving the PCA. The APR is a good choice along with the RPCNA, RPCGA, RPC, and The Free Church, Continuing.

  11. Hugh McCann Says:

    Stephen, meanest thou the ARP?

  12. Hugh McCann Says:

    Eric, as to your points, I recall R.C. Sproul, shortly after the unveiling of the ETC in 1994, saying that Evangelicals are unwilling to assert that the opposite of what we affirm as true is false.

    The PCA seems constitutionally incapable of self-governance.

  13. Hugh McCann Says:

    Ha ha! I canna type, either! I meant ECT (Evangelicals & Catholics Together)…

  14. Hugh McCann Says:

    No, Sean, you tell me. I asked you,

    Is the PCA DOA or merely moribund?
    If the former, then must all depart out (a la TEC, Rome, et. al.)?
    If the latter, then, should not the good guys stay in and fight for the flock?

    So, Sproul said “This is the Gospel people.” Now an acknowledged false gospel can be preached with impunity in the PCA. The denom is now officially yoked with unbelievers.

    That doesn’t really answer my questions, but are you saying it’s moribund, but not dead yet?

    There is a huge difference between NEAR DEATH and DEAD.

    Please stop equivocating.

  15. Eric Says:

    I think the PCA should be renamed to the DCA (Dialectic Church of America) or the SCA (Synthetic Church of America).

  16. Steve M Says:

    Would someone please tell me how many teachers a denomination must permit to proclaim a false gospel before it is dead?

  17. justbybelief Says:


    One. A little leaven…, and In my mind it isn’t necessarily “how many” but this is a refusal to BE the Church, that is, to protect sound doctrine.

    What I find amazing is that upon exoneration of a false prophet whole churches within the denomination remain and make excuses.


  18. justbybelief Says:

    “…protect sound doctrine”

    And not just any doctrine, if there were such a thing, but the doctrine without which there are no Christians and in turn no Church.

  19. Hugh McCann Says:

    Anyone: Is PCA near death or dead?

    Tolerating heretics or heretical?

    She still holds to the WCF, and does not (yet) pray to Allah or ordain ladies (of any derivation).

  20. justbybelief Says:

    “She still holds to the WCF, …”

    If the gospel is rejected then the PCA does not hold to the WCF.

  21. Stephen Welch Says:

    I do not believe the PCA is dead, but there is certainly serious issues that if not addressed will lead to its demise. There are still many faithful pastors and elders in the PCA. John Owen, the great Puritan Divine showed that apostasy is a gradual decline that starts with little departures from truth.

  22. justbybelief Says:

    Are the pastors faithful when they refuse to act in the face of outright heresy being exonerated within their own denomination?

  23. Stephen Welch Says:

    Many faithful pastors have addressed the issues and spoken in opposition.

  24. justbybelief Says:

    But where do they remain?…in fellowship with heretics.

  25. Stephen Welch Says:

    What denomination are you in, justbybelief?

  26. justbybelief Says:

    Why do “faithful pastors” remain in fellowship with those who reject the gospel?

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