Before getting into the way the FV won the PCA, it is necessary to state why I believe the FV has won the PCA, because that is, of course, a controversial claim. The reason I say that the FV has won the PCA is that the PCA is now a FV-friendly denomination. The final tale has not perhaps been spoken. That will be in October. However, unless a miracle happens (and I’m certainly praying for one!), nothing will change in October. Of course, there are Presbyteries that would never allow in a FV man. But the FV doesn’t need those Presbyteries. They have Pacific Northwest, Missouri, Siouxlands, and Metro New York Presbyteries. That’s enough space for anyone, surely (7 states and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the entire world)! Those Presbyteries are absolutely safe for FV men.
So how did the FV win the PCA? Well firstly, they learned fast, for one thing. Instead of trying to avoid judicial procedure, they learned that it was actually necessary to jump the gun on a trial, because then they could choose the battlefield and have all the advantages. Get a Presbytery to exonerate a man, and the SJC will be under enormous pressure to give a free pass to the Presbytery. Rush everything so that the prosecutor wouldn’t have enough time to do it right. Make it all about personalities and martyrdom. Everyone loves a martyr. Don’t let it be about doctrine. In terms of the doctrinal points that they do address, they introduce just enough “counter-evidence,” which is actually contradictions of previous material in some cases, and bare assertions about confessional adherence in others, so that people can be bamboozled into using that as an excuse not to rule the right way.
Secondly, they pulled an enormous amount of their internet stuff, because that was the forum where they made the most “far-out” claims. Tis the nature of the internet. Get rid of the incriminating evidence, and you make the prosecutor’s job a whole lot harder.
Thirdly, they kept their heads low when the discussion got hot. When there was nothing for it, they lit into the accusers with the ninth commandment club like there was no tomorrow (as all heretics everywhere have ALWAYS done). But in all other instances, they said nothing except this: that SAYING one’s theology is compatible with the Westminster Standards proves it beyond any shade of reasonable doubt. They just kept on claiming that, despite the clear evidence to the contrary that they actually hate the guts of the Westminster Standards, because they know good and well (as James Jordan so honestly told them) that their doctrine goes with the Westminster Standards about like asparagus goes with ice cream (that’s something of a paraphrase of James Jordan, as anyone in the know will readily perceive). But if one gets rid of all the evidence, then people are much more likely to believe their claims.
Fourthly, they never gave up. They were incredibly tenacious, with a very few exceptions, and those were already lost causes. They can afford to lose on Rich Lusk or Steve Wilkins, if they win on Peter Leithart and Jeff Meyers.
Fifthly, they actively courted the evangelical middle of the PCA. They tried very hard (and successfully) to convince the evangelical middle that the FV issues were not gospel issues, but peripheral issues. This was done by the cherry-picking out-of-context quoting of the Reformed fathers that tried to make the case that the FV was within the Reformed tradition (whatever that means!). Once that was done, the evangellyfish (trademark somewhat ironically Doug Wilson) middle completely flipped sides. If it is a gospel issue, the middle generally votes with the confessionalists. However, if they are not convinced that it is a gospel issue, they will vote to keep the peace (whatever that means! There is FAR less peace in the PCA now than there was, say, 8 years ago. Witness everyone talking about it). They will be cwaga folks.
It is certainly a good thing for the FV that the evangelical middle has such a short memory (does anyone know what happened in 2007?). It is also a good thing for the FV that the evangelical middle has so much fear of man infecting it. The middle has no stomach for what would need to happen to certain Presbyteries for real discipline to occur. That’s because real discipline is always painful. And who has the endurance for something like that?
Can the situation be salvaged? It is highly unlikely. There are too many egos on the line, and there is too much defensiveness, especially on the part of the SJC members, many of whom cannot possibly be happy with the outcome of the Leithart case, but who are now committed, and cannot admit to being wrong about something. I can’t imagine the discomfort, having one’s conscience gnaw at them all the time about it.
I would, however, like to ask the SJC this simple question: is your interpretation of the polity of the PCA putting polity higher in importance than the gospel? If God were to ask you why you allowed a heterodox teacher to remain in the flock, are you going to feel comfortable telling God that the polity of the PCA couldn’t be violated (and this is even assuming that you are interpreting the polity correctly!)? Have you elevated the BCO over the Bible? One of the principles of Robert’s Rules is that if any of Robert’s Rules come into conflict with a society’s bylaws, then Robert’s Rules gives way, and the bylaws of that society take precedence. Extending this principle a bit further, we arrive at this principle: if anything in the BCO prevents us from doing what the Bible tells us to do, then so much the worse for the BCO. The Bible is not only the highest authority, but also demands our highest allegiance. This doesn’t mean we ignore a BCO. But if a situation arises when the BCO would seem to prevent us from doing what the Bible clearly tells us to do, then we must obey God rather than men.