Having just finished reading the Summer 1998 issue of P&R News, I was dismayed to read the accounts of what passes for worship in some of the congregations you have visited since moving to Georgia. I wanted to ask, "What do they think they are doing?"
A few years ago, I heard someone say that the PCA has changed more in the past 15 years than the PCUS did in the last 50. If your accounts of what transpired in the name of worship in some of the churches is true, and this trend continues, we are on a faster track to ruin than even the author of that quote (one of our founding fathers) realized.
There will be an accounting one day as we stand before the Great Judge of men and nations (as untrendy as that idea may be). We will all have enough to answer for already without adding the sin of purposely excluding the reading of the Word from and imposing foolishness onto the worship of God.
Robert E. Hays, Pastor
Pearl (MS) Presbyterian Church
Frank, my copy of the General Assembly issue arrived today. Thank you very much for the good job you do putting out P&R News. You are providing a valuable service.
I enjoyed the article on Mike Hall, whom I have not had contact with since I preached some special meetings in the original Rebecca Littlepage Church. I found the article on Parkview Church very disturbing, as I did the piece on "Subsequent Developments at New Song--Salt Lake."
Thank you for the most recent edition of the Presbyterian and Reformed News. As usual, you have supplied your readers with information they could not possibly get from any other source.
Once again, I am greatly disappointed by the criticism you have received from some of your readers. A great deal of it is simply wrong-as you yourself have pointed out. Other criticisms seem to be of the "blame the messenger for the message" variety-a bit like blaming the weatherman for the weather. The real target of your readers' fury should be the very prominent and newsworthy problems within the PCA.
Which leads me to a (very slight!) criticism of my own. Your editorial is simply too optimistic in tone, it seems to me. Because of your newspaper, the conservatives in the PCA should now recognize that their position is quite hopeless, unless the Lord intervenes in a highly unusual way. The PCA has become a barely reformed church, with only a very minimal attachment to the Westminster Standards. How else can we explain the open and public repudiation of the teaching of the WCF [Westminster Confession of Faith] on the subject of creation by the last PCA General Assembly? How else can we explain the open will-worship, in violation of the WCF, in the form of Christmas celebrations, liturgical dance, drama, uninspired hymns, baseball posters, and images of Jesus? Does anyone expect the men who are responsible for trashing the WCF in these ways to be disciplined? Isn't it more likely that the contagion will spread, as it has for the last few years?
Conservatives should stop complaining. They've lost the battle for the heart and soul of the PCA, and they might as well face that unpleasant truth. Sure, there will always be a few small victories here and there. But the general trend is obvious.
The solution? Separation. That's what God taught us in II Thessalonians 3:6, 14. And we disobey Him at our peril. Yes, it's painful. But not as much as the wrath of God.
Anyway, thanks again, Frank. As unpleasant as the truth is, we all need to face it, and you help us do that.
Jeffrey P. Yelton
I believe your report on the Assembly's decision to form a study committee on the doctrine of creation leaves a couple of wrong impressions. The report (Summer 1998 issue, page 6) states: The attempt to add the instruction that the view of the PCA in 1973 be looked into was apparently an effort by people who believe that the Confessional phrase, 'in the space of six days,' was not intended by the founders of the PCA to have a definite meaning.
First, this was not "an effort by people." I acted alone when I made this proposal.
Second, I do not hold the belief attributed to me. The charge has been made (from both sides) that some are seeking to change the doctrine of the PCA. We cannot learn whether this charge is true or where the innovation lies merely by studying the Scriptures and the intent of the original authors of the Confession. We would have to study what the founders of the PCA understood and intended when they initially adopted the Confession.
I am more concerned, however, that you did not inquire whether these suppositions about my actions were correct. It would not have been difficult to contact me and find out whether my proposal was part of some concerted effort or what my beliefs and motives were. It would seem better either to check out or leave out such unsubstantiated (and, in this case, wrong) assertions.
Yours in Christ's service,
[Our long-time friend is correct in
his concern expressed in the final paragraph, and we apologize
for the error. However, as to the question of original intent
of Constitutional standards, we would maintain that the adoption
in 1973 of the same language as that of the 1640s mandates that
we look to the Westminster Assembly to determine the meaning of
I wonder if your readers might be interested to learn that the Web site which our small Presbyteiran mission in Adelaide has prepared, and which was noted to you in an earlier letter, has now a new address at
http://webwitness.org.au. It has grown to 4100 pages (approx.) and we hope to have it available also with extra pictures, lectures and perhaps music on CD shortly. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the features in Christian Apologetics which seem apt in the current situation, there is much on creation and we commend to you for the present time, especially the presentations at :
Ch.9, "Engineering Nature and Engendering Man", in A SPIRITUAL POTPOURRI and Ch.7 "In the Beginning, God...", in THE BIBLICAL WORKMAN. (Much more on this is found e.g. in Chs.1-8, A Spiritual Potpourri, Ch.2, THE SHADOW OF A MIGHTY ROCK, 3rd. Edition, and Ch.1 of That Magnificent Rock.)
These two chapters are found in the "SHELVES" section (blinking) on the Home Page as above. Likewise, on Biblical separation, is Ch.7 of The Kingdom of Heaven, in the same "SHELVES".
Rev. Dr. Robert E. Donaldson