The Presbyterian Church in America has institutionalized incompetence

The Presbyterian Church in America has institutionalized incompetence

I’ve often said it’s much more accurate to understand my former denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, by looking at social class than letting all the gab about doctrine fool you.

The PCA is best seen as a religious organization run by upper middle class men whose principal value is risk aversion. Engineers and middle managers will do almost anything to avoid risk, and thus they will never discipline anyone or anything unless the risk of not disciplining him rises above the risk of disciplining him.

Even Revoice didn’t reach that level of scandal. It would have to be something on the order of the moderator or stated clerk of the denomination calling an eighty-five-year-old grandmother up onto the platform mid-assembly and hacking her to shreds with a hatchet. The elders wives across the denomination would be more scandalized if the assembly did not discipline the moderator than if they did, so the discipline of him would be enormously popular among the PCA’s ruling class. Their wives would speak and that would settle it.

Which is what settles almost everything in the PCA: the wives of elders. Because in the end, the middle manager and engineer’s greatest fear is Momma not being happy.

The PCA’s elders and pastors are precisely like everyone else in the country just now, and the PCA will die just like every other good institution has died, recently, because the PCA hates risk and nothing good gets done or protected without risk. Especially the church’s discipline and pastoral care and preaching.

A quarter-century ago, Stanley Hauerwas had the most interesting diagnosis of the death of preaching in my time, and he titled it, “Preaching As Though We Had Enemies.” But no, we don’t and we won’t.

The entire purpose and goal of Tim Keller and Bryan Chapell and Lig Duncan and Scott Saul’s for-great-profit religious organization is to avoid having any enemies. At all costs. Which is the institutionalization of incompetence.

Want to understand this on the national level? Read this short piece: “How We Institutionalized Incompetence.”


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About The Author

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Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church since 1996, Tim and Mary Lee have five children and lots of grandchildren. Tim's books include "Daddy Tried," The Grace of Shame," "Church Reformed," and a new book for elders. Tim spent ten years in the PC(USA) and twenty in the PCA. He's now a member of Evangel Presbytery.

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