Leaving the Reformed Faith
Over the last number of years, but with more enthusiasm over the last couple, more and more sectors of the “Reformed” world are choosing to leave the historic Reformed faith, and now Evangel Presbytery of the PCA has joined the exodus.
Adopted within the last couple of days, the presbytery put forth this statement:
“Evangel Presbytery declares that the doctrines of the ‘New Perspective on Paul,’ ‘Auburn Avenue Theology/Federal Vision’, and teachings of Norman Shepherd, N.T. Wright, and Douglas Wilson which foster these positions, to be outside of the bounds of acceptable theological doctrine for Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders in Evangel Presbytery and are not to be believed or taught within the churches of this Presbytery; and each Teaching and Ruling Elder be charged with equipping the members of their churches to stand against these doctrines.”
Just to be quite clear, I’m in no way suggesting that these brothers are leaving the Christian faith altogether. I’d be quite happy to invite them into my home, worship together with them, and quite gratefully serve in various joint ministries with them. What I am saying is that these brothers are removing themselves from the historic Reformed faith and pursuing a more broadly anabaptist and separatist version of Christianity. Where we would embrace the high covenantalism of Luther, Calvin, Bucer and the Westminster divines, these brothers would prefer a later, more reactionary and revivalistic stance towards the institution of the church, the sacraments, and the covenant.
The last comment I would make is in regard to the names listed. Interestingly, as far as the “movement” toward reviving the historic Reformed faith in the modern church goes (what has been termed the “Federal Vision”), there are a number of gentlemen NOT mentioned. It is a telling fact that of the current men associated with this renewal, Douglas Wilson is the only one named. This is due, I believe, to how widely known and respected Wilson is. His writings and teachings have covered a vast array of subjects from education to apologetics to history to parenting to theology. Furthmore, Wilson’s willingness to engage with many other view points, his creative and winsome rhetoric and his quick wit make him one of the single greatest “threats” to the anabaptist tendencies in the PCA and OPC. Of course N.T. Wright is also listed, and he is a “current” member of a broader discussion about covenant theology and New Testament exegesis, but so far as this is a “Reformed Presbyterian” conversation, Douglas Wilson is the lone repressentative as far as Evangel Presbytery is concerned. And quite frankly, I’m grateful for that. I’m very grateful for the other men involved in the discussion too, but the cultural breadth and depth that Wilson brings to the table is exactly what the modern Reformed church needs.