The P.C.A.’s annual meeting, General Assembly, which includes ruling elders and pastors from churches all across America, just finished up in Nashville this week. The scriptural basis for this gathering is found in Acts 15, where elders and apostles gathered to deal with some serious issues in the early church.
I’m not a denominational “homer” who thinks his denomination is without flaws. I think we’ve got plenty of yahoos. But we also have Tim Keller, fortunately. So at times, those in my denomination drive me up the wall, and at other times there are those who make me thankful just to be a part of it. Believe it or not, despite the incredibly strict ordination process, pastors and churches vary quite differently on issues relating to music, schooling, culture, parenting, preaching, women’s roles, etc. Some can be crotchedy and likes-to-fight guy. But our more prominent leaders, like Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan pictured above, regularly enter into gracious dialog over their differences. This really says a lot.
And if I were to go to another General Assembly (I’ve only been to one because it was just a few hours from my house), I would find myself in the company of lads I love and respect, and lads I might have a hard time loving and an even harder time respecting.
With all that said, let me say why I’m in this denomination, and why I think its worth joining a local PCA church. It is not because I think it is THE denomination, and it is not because I think we’re right and everyone is else is wrong, or at least “wronger.”
I’m in it because, in my opinion, it is the most scripturally responsible denomination (that doesn’t mean I could not gladly serve in another or will never serve in another). In seminary, a professor challenged us to not think of any denomination as “the only show in town.” That thinking is not just arrogant, but myopic and stupid. Instead, he challenged us to join forces with the denomination we believed to be “the best show in town.”
I try to steer clear as much as possible in saying I’m right and others are wrong when it comes to denominations. When I was being examined for this presbytery, I told them I wanted to responsible with my creation views. One lad wanted me to say “right.” But in a rare moment of wisdom, I reminded them that only one view will actually be right (sadly I was the only one there who thought the “responsible” way!) and we won’t find out until Jesus returns or we go be with him. So I’m content to settle with responsible.
The same is true with denominations. I want to be responsible with the scriptures we’ve been given, with the church history we’ve been given, and with the Holy Spirit given to every believer. Don’t look for the right one, as though there is one right and many wrong. Instead look for the most responsible, but learn from other responsible ones. If you’re in an area that doesn’t have a PCA or a Baptist, or whatever you would prefer, seek out a scripturally responsible church, even if you can’t jive with everything it believes.
To reiterate that this approach limits arrogance, let me posit this question. Shouldn’t any pastor of any denomination or denominational camp like “Reformed” “Baptistic,” “Charismatic,” etc…., consider where he is to be the most responsible place. If not, shouldn’t he go somewhere that is? There is nothing arrogant about seeking to be in the most scripturally faithful camp. Arrogance comes when you believe your camp is the RIGHT scriptural camp, and refuse to learn from other scripturally faithful denominations. That’s why I try to intentionally add variety to my reading.
Anyhow, that’s my P.C.A. schpeel for now, and will probably not bring the topic up for another year!