Who’s Being Divisive?

Over on Wes White’s blog, Tim LeCroy is arguing that the PCA ought to be broad and inclusive when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. Paedo-Communion (as a belief) ought to be allowed, as well as intinction. He says that “we must realize that setting it (paedo-communion as an allowable exception, LK) as not allowable will be a major blow to the unity and peace of the PCA and may even lead to its rupture.” The full post of LeCroy is here.

I confess myself a bit puzzled by LeCroy’s assertions. Which is more divisive: holding to the Westminster Standards, or jettisoning them seemingly at will (especially by practice and then screaming foul when someone blows the whistle)? Which is more divisive: staying in the same place doctrinally speaking, or continually pushing the boundaries? One of the biggest rhetorical points scored in the progressive versus confessional debate is the idea that the confessionalists are the ones being divisive, especially because of blogs. I might remind the progressives at this point that the confessionalists have not moved on their positions. We’ve always believed that the Westminster Standards are THE system of doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures. Unity is no unity at all unless it is a unity around the truth. Progressives are all about love and unity, but they completely divorce love and unity from truth. How can two walk together unless they are agreed?

Pushing the boundaries is often portrayed as the hip and cool thing to do nowadays. It is seen as progressive and inclusive. I would dispute both points. The most original thinkers in theology have ALWAYS been the most confessional thinkers. Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck, Berkhof, and Hodge are names I would say have all the creativity in the world compared to thinkers like John Armstrong, Peter Leithart, Ron Choong, and Brian McLaren. Moving sideways in one’s theology does not make for creativity. Heresy and heterodoxy are always reruns of past errors, and are therefore NOT creative. However, orthodox thinkers, because they are rooted to the faith once for all delivered to the saints, can explore deeper aspects of the same truths. In other words, creativity can only be deeper, not moving sideways.

Progressives are not inclusive when it comes to confessionalists. I have experienced this animosity first-hand on innumerable occasions, and from the very people who scream at the top of their completely non-self-aware lungs about how loving we need to be. How intolerant is “tolerance!” The idea of tolerance today is tolerant of everything except exclusivity. Exclusivity is seen as harsh, unloving, and (of course!) breaking the ninth commandment every single time it turns its head around. If I had a single penny every time I saw a confessionalist being accused of breaking the ninth commandment simply for blowing the whistle on a non-confessional teaching, I would be filthy rich. It might have been a bit more convincing, if it hadn’t been used 6 trillion times. Apparently, confessionalists are also incapable of understanding the English language, according to the progressives. “Can’t you understand that we are working from a different paradigm here?” they ask. To which I respond, “That’s precisely the point! It’s a different paradigm from the Westminster Standards.”

Confessionalists will only take so much boundary-pushing before it is enough. To all those who want to include everything under the sun within the progressively stretching “boundaries” (or what’s left of those almost infinitely elastic statements) of the Westminster Standards, know this: we are tired of being pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and being simultaneously blamed for all the bickering. “Accept this, accept that, accept this, accept that, and if you don’t, you’re being unloving. Oh, and you need to put yourselves in our shoes, because you need to understand us.” I wonder if any progressive whatsoever has ever thought about what it is like to be a confessionalist. Of course, those who once were confessionalists and have now gone progressive are most likely disdainful of confessionalists. But the most common caricature of confessionalists is that they are curmudgeonly, and are only concerned about truth, and they don’t like getting along with anyone else. No doubt there are some of those kind out there. I plead not guilty, however. I can get along with general evangelical types fairly well (except when it comes to how to defend the boundaries). I cannot get along with progressives, because they are actively seeking to destroy confessional boundaries.

Paedo-communion is divisive: we heard at General Assembly that there were 2-year-olds being allowed at the table in some church(es), and then not being transferred to another church. That’s divisive. We heard that PC is not being practiced, but then heard from others that it is being practiced. I don’t care if a session has agreed to let a 2-year old to the table: that’s PC, in my book. Can you imagine the interview a session might have of a 2-year old? Session:”Do you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?” Kid: “Yes, yes.” Session: “Do you believe that the pastor is the devil incarnate?” Kid: “Yes, yes.”

Theistic evolution is divisive. Just look at the recent posts on this blog.

Intinction is divisive. The debate on it in the Overtures Committee was spirited, to say the least (although, thankfully, it never got to the level of personal accusations). Some believe that our Standards are sufficiently clear on the subject. Others believe that the practice is perfectly allowable under the current BCO.

Federal Vision is unbelievably divisive. It not only divides adherents from critics in the sharpest possible ways, it also divides those who are opposed to the doctrines of the FV, since they often disagree on how to deal with it. This aspect of its divisiveness has been enormously painful to me personally.

Looking at these examples, isn’t it crystal clear who is being divisive, and who is not? Confessionalists are seeking unity, but it is a unity around the truth of the Scriptures, the system of doctrine of which is codified in the Westminster Standards. The progressives, by pushing the boundaries, are the ones causing confusion, and then yelling out “Divisive!” at those who believe that boundaries are good things, and who are calling the whistle at the progressives. It’s called a smoke-screen, my readers.