Courage in the PCA

Written by Ben C. Dunson |
Monday, June 10, 2024

While Curtis Chang is not accurate when he claims that it was “the right-wing faction within the PCA” that was responsible for the political polarization panel being cancelled, it is likely that he is right when he says this “only encourages more of the same.” One can only say: by God’s grace, yes, may it be so. Courage to do the right thing in the face of unrelenting cultural pressure is contagious. And such contagious courage is sorely needed today.

This is cowardice. This is caving to a mob mentality that only encourages more of the same. This is an outright smear of a faithful and true Christian man.” These are the words of Duke Divinity School’s Curtis Chang, a progressive Christian activist and professor, to describe recent events in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The “caving to a mob mentality” he has in mind is the decision of the Stated Clerk of the PCA to disinvite David French from the denomination’s annual General Assembly in June. French was to take part in a panel discussion on political polarization in the church, which was cancelled.

The events connected with French are significant in their own right, but this episode also highlights important challenges the PCA faces in a nation increasingly hostile to basic Christian truths. Despite those who have attempted to portray French’s disinvitation as the result of a small group of angry, overly-online keyboard warriors, the decision was in fact the result of a large number of leaders (called ruling and teaching elders in the PCA) and ordinary church members expressing their concern in the proper way, to the proper decision makers in the denomination. Many of those who expressed these concerns are not even on the “right” of the denomination. They are middle-of-the-road Christians who recognize, whatever their own political beliefs, that David French is an extremely polarizing figure, unlikely to fulfill the stated purpose of the panel to help the church avoid polarization. That said, many are also concerned with the actual positions French takes on important moral and social issues, including on so-called gay marriage, laws regarding minors and “gender reassignment” surgeries, drag queen story hour, and more.

Leading voices within progressive churches and institutions quickly denounced the decision to cancel the panel. It is incredibly difficult for confessional Christian institutions to resist such pressure. One can see what happened to people like cake-maker Jack Phillips for refusing to create cake designs celebrating homosexuality, or more recently, the pressure put on Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker for stating basic facts about homosexuality, God’s design for men and women, and the harmful effects of DEI programs.

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