I 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.