Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (16); it’s all about tone
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 sixteenth 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.
IV. JUDICIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
A. Theological Principles
1. On edifying theological disagreement
In 2 Tim. 2.23-35 Paul instructs Timothy, a church leader, first, to avoid “foolish and ignorant disputes”—why?—because they only generate quarrels (v. 23). As for those disputes that are not “foolish and ignorant” he must engage them not in a quarrelsome or argumentative manner (v. 24a), but in a manner that is (i) tender and gentle (vs. severe, abrupt or harsh); (ii) possessing the necessary knowledge of both the topic and the recipient and the skill to instruct (vs. being culturally and pastorally uninformed, out of touch, relying upon hearsay, etc.); and (iii) graciously patient, absent of annoyance, resentment or irritation (v. 24b). To his opponents, he must (i) offer positive guidance, like a good coach (παιδεύω) (vs. merely offering negative critique),1 doing so (ii) with humble gentleness (vs. condescension, superiority, bluntness, or insensitivity). It is this positive guidance, gently given, that can be the means by which two beautiful things can happen: (i) God could enable one’s opponents to turn and walk anew in God’s life-giving ways, resulting in a “knowledge of the truth” and (ii) these opponents would “sober up” and escape the snares of deception, by which the Father of lies has held them captive, to do his will (v. 26). Clearly, then, in theological disagreements “spiritual warfare” is a significant dimension, and opponents, to the extent that they are in error, are to be regarded as prisoners, captive to the Enemy’s will, and thus need to be corrected with great concern and compassion.
When the shepherd opens the door to the wolf and stands by as he ravages the flock safely gathered inside his sheepfold, that shepherd must give an accounting to the Chief Shepherd Whose precious blood purchased those sheep.
This paragraph above is Missouri Presbytery’s cover for betraying those sheep. Their transparent attempts at self-justification are repulsive.
Missouri Presbytery’s pastors here justify their cowardice by pointing out how gentle, reasonable, and ever-so-humble they are while the shepherds who criticized Revoice are (and we list them in order):
- culturally and pastorally uninformed
- out of touch
- relying upon hearsay
- merely offering negative critique
- acting superior
- caught in the snares of deception
- held captive by the Father of lies
- doing the will of the Father of lies
- captives doing the Enemy’s will
- needing to sober up
This smearing of Revoice’s critics is done in hushed tones using Scripture passages. Missouri Presbytery doesn’t come right out and say Revoice’s critics are foolish, ignorant, disputatious, quarrelsome, etc. Instead, the presbyters speak generally about proper conduct in “theological disagreement.”
It’s perverse for shepherds abandoning the church to the schism promoted by this Revoice LGBTQZ crowd to lecture those shouting warnings about how bad their tone is. When the wolf comes to devour the flock—which is precisely what Revoice has done and is doing—it isn’t the barking dog who has the sinful tone, but the dog who refuses to bark.
What Revoice is promoting are not “foolish and ignorant disputes.” They are promoting schism, heresy, immorality, and apostasy.
Missouri Presbytery knows this, but they’ll never admit it. They don’t want to fight because fighting is dangerous.
To a certain kind of man, fighting is also gauche.
(This is sixteenth in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here.)
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|1.||↑||Nate Collins, All But Invisible (Zondervan, 2017), p. 21, cites Jones and Yarhouse: “…part of the ineffectiveness of traditionalist or evangelical voices in the public sphere can be attributed to their…focus on making negative claims…instead of embedding rightly negative condemnations in a positive ethic.” Similarly, Sam Allberry, in his review of Wesley Hill’s Spiritual Friendship (Brazos, 2015), speaks of the need for positive teaching, warning, “I suspect we will not see great fruitfulness from our witness on the issue of sexuality until we do” (available here).|