Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (15); No, I didn’t mean you!

Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (15); No, I didn’t mean you!

NOTE: Missouri Presbytery (PCA) is the ecclesiastical authority over Pastor Greg Johnson and the elders of Memorial Presbyterian Church. Pastor Johnson and Memorial hosted the first Revoice 18 conference one year ago in St. Louis. The second Revoice (19) will soon be held, once again in St. Louis.

Responding to national pressure from inside and outside their denomination, Missouri Presbytery put together an investigatory committee and just issued their Report. This is fifteenth in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here. Report text is indented. Unless otherwise indicated, footnotes are from Missouri Presbytery’s Report. We pick up where we left off last time.

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Allegation #8: On the question of the analogy of Jeremiah and SSA Believers

Allegation: It is alleged that in drawing an analogy between, on one side, the divinely inspired prophet Jeremiah’s ministry to apostate Judah wherein he condemned their idolatry and called out their unfaithful shepherds, and on the other side, contemporary non-straight conservative Christians seeking to live faithfully to God’s standards for sexual behavior and calling out what they regard as the idolatry of the conjugal/natural family in the contemporary evangelical church, as well as evangelical pastors who are not preaching the whole counsel of God regarding marriage and singleness, Dr. Nate Collins committed serious doctrinal error: a) by denying the importance of the conjugal/natural family when God himself instituted and blesses it; b) by suggesting that the contemporary evangelical church is, like ancient Judah was, apostate; and c) by claiming for himself or for the whole Side B community a divinely-commissioned authority analogous to that conferred on Jeremiah.

So Collins said what? Give it to us straight, will you? All these words: “contemporary non-straight conservative Christians seeking to live faithfully to God’s standards for sexual behavior and calling out what they regard as the idolatry of the conjugal/natural family in the contemporary evangelical church, as well as evangelical pastors who are not preaching the whole counsel of God regarding marriage and singleness.”

Whew! But really, despite that inscrutable verbiage, readers already know what is being said because Revoicers never stop saying it.

Claiming victimhood and whining is what Revoice is all about and church people are particularly susceptible to this tactic. Revoicers stand at the fringes and cry out, “Stop your hate! Stop your shaming! We’re Christians too! What about ME? What about US?!?!” Then like clockwork, Missouri Presbytery writes 143 pages parading its solicitude and sympathy. As each of the 143 pages is turned, their coddling of all these “contemporary non-straight conservative Christians” gets ever more precious.

Collins made himself out to be like Jeremiah as he complains about the unfaithful shepherds today for not preaching down God’s blessings on LivingOUT gays he claims fulfill the Biblical call to singleness. These pastors are idolaters. Their congregations are idolaters, also. The golden calf is marriage and family life.

Stuff like that are the pastoral insights of Collins and Revoicers like Stephen Moss and Greg Johnson.

Apparently, Collins’s chutzpah was a bit much for Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Committee—him claiming to be the prophet Jeremiah crying down the idol-worship of getting married and having children. Even to Missouri Presbytery’s Committee, it was a little over the top, so they held a private pow-wow with Collins:

Judgment: While we do believe Dr. Collins could have and should have been more careful in how he framed his proposal for the role that SSA Christians might be called to play in the evangelical church, our finding is that he did not commit serious doctrinal error because he did not deny the importance of the conjugal family, did not suggest that the contemporary evangelical church is apostate, and did not claim for himself or SSA orthodox Christians a divinely-commissioned authority analogous to that of an Old Testament prophet. The committee made this judgment after conversation with Dr. Collins and in the light of his written statement to our committee, clarifying his purpose in drawing that analogy with Jeremiah.

To everyone’s relief, after their consultation with Collins, he pulled in his horns and assured these Missouri Presbytery men that none of them were the false shepherds he had condemned for being marriage and childbearing idolaters. But do note the final sentence showing these reassurances were given by Collins to the Committee privately.

Allegation #9: On the Presence of Roman Catholic Speakers

Allegation: It is alleged that Memorial erred by giving a platform to Roman Catholic speakers to teach on issues where Roman Catholic doctrine is in conflict with Reformed doctrine (especially in the doctrine of sanctification and the concept of concupiscence) without offering their congregation any teaching before or after the conference distinguishing Roman Catholic doctrine from the Westminster Standards’ exposition of biblical teaching.

Speaking in utter seriousness, the chasm between Biblical Christian faith and the immorality and false doctrine of Revoice makes the difference between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Reformed doctrines of sanctification and concupiscence pale by comparison.

Revoice calls good what Scripture and our confessional Westminster Standards call evil. Revoice blesses what God curses. Revoice is intentionally promoting schism within the Church, seeking to draw out disciples from among the people of God. They are men who have arisen among us seeking sheep they may devour, and Missouri Presbytery is happy to oblige. Missouri Presbytery refuses to keep watch over these sheep, cozying up to the wolves instead.

That the men of Missouri Presbytery would busy themselves with complaints that Revoice invited Roman Catholic speakers, doing so after they have accepted Revoice’s foundational premises that effeminacy is no sin and sodomy’s shame is oppressive, may be the best example of our Lord’s warning that it is the nature of Pharisees to strain out a gnat while swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:43).

Judgment: We find that Memorial did not err in allowing Roman Catholics to speak in their church building under the aegis of Revoice, an outside organization, for the reasons we list in the report. This was planned as an ecumenical event not because Revoice thinks the teaching of Roman Catholicism is sound in crucial areas of doctrine, but because of the common confession of those Catholic speakers that Jesus is Lord, and their common commitment to honor the sexual boundaries in the Word of God.

However, Memorial erred in failing to make clear to their congregation our doctrinal differences with Roman Catholicism before, but especially after the Revoice conference. We believe a fine opportunity was missed to teach the body of Christ at Memorial about things central to the gospel, like justification and sanctification and the difference between them, laying out the deep and crucially important differences between the Catholic and the Protestant understanding of the Faith delivered once to the saints.

What’s the point of teaching the difference between imputation and infusion when there’s no agreement on the distinction between law-keeping and law-breaking? Between righteousness and wickedness?

The Apostle Paul warns the effeminate they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Missouri Presbytery’s Pastor Greg Johnson and his Memorial Presbyterian Church Session host a national gathering of self-affirming LGBTQZers who deny Scripture’s warnings against sexual immorality.

Missouri Presbytery responds with hems and haws and stipulations and qualifications. One-hundred and forty-three pages of them.

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(This is fifteenth in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here.)


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About The Authors

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Tim has been senior pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Bloomington, Indiana since 1996. Married to Mary Lee, the Baylys have five children and twenty-something grandchildren. Tim's book on fatherhood is "Daddy Tried." Co-author of a book on homosexuality, "The Grace of Shame," his latest book on the Church is "Church Reformed."

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Andrew Dionne is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (Evangel Presbytery) in Spartanburg, SC. He serves on the boards of Clearnote Pastors College and Personhood South Carolina. He has six children and a lovely wife.

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Andy Halsey is a pastor ordained in the PCA. He has a wife and 5 children and lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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