THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Robert George expresses for Catholics what Russell Moore has expressed for Evangelicals. The days of being cool and Catholic are over.
A call for Catholics’ bolder, more outspoken stance for the Gospel rang clear this morning at the 10th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an event drawing together Catholic clergy, lay leaders, non-profit organizations, and individuals to pray for the nation.
Delivering an invigorating clarion call for unashamed and unwavering public witness for the religious liberty, marriage, and the sanctity of life was special guest and Institute on Religion and Democracy emeritus board member, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American ideals and Intuitions at Princeton University.
“The question each of us must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel?,” declared George to a ballroom largely filled with Catholics and some faithful Protestants.
According to George, “We American Catholics who have had it so good, having become comfortable” forget Jesus’ timeless truth that, “If you want to be my disciple, take up my cross and follow me.” George continued, “But there will be no ignoring that truth now, my friends.”
“They tell us we are on the wrong side of history,” said George. “History is not our judge. God is our Judge.”
THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
For several years, membership in Southern Baptist churches has been in decline. The American denomination hit its peak in 2005 with 16.6 million members, and since then, communities have seen a steady drop, hitting 15.8 million members in 2012. That’s nearly one million members lost in roughly a decade—a period during which the overall U.S. population grew by more than 18 million.
But arguably, the more significant decline is happening within church communities: They’re not performing as many baptisms anymore. The top baptismal year was 1999; since then, the ritual has become more and more infrequent, dropping by about 25 percent.
Baptisms Reported by Southern Baptist Churches (in thousands)
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
Are the events, drifts, in the PCA just grounds for leaving for a more conservative denomination? Jared Nelson says NO:
Recently, PCA pastor Andy Webb posted “5 Reasons it might be time to leave the PCA” over at his blog “Building Old School Churches.” [http://biblebased.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/5-reasons-it-might-be-time-to-leave-the-pca/] and it has been republished at Aquila Report at: http://theaquilareport.com/5-reasons-it-might-be-time-to-leave-the-presbyterian-church-in-america/
The issues Webb wrestles with are many I have wrestled with in my admittedly shorter time in the PCA. And as I have wrestled, I have written. Thus, I have a respect for Andy Webb and his perspective and this does not intend to be a debate, but merely a counterpoint – another perspective on the issues that he raises here and why I come to different conclusions.
This article is partly working through these issues for myself, but also to any friends I have that are PCA and looking over fences to “greener pastures.” Below, I offer a brief interaction with each point, as well as some positive points about the PCA. Before you jump, let me attempt to dissuade you from jumping ship.
I do so as one who is a Confessional Pastor in the PCA. I took no exceptions to the Confession, meaning: I am an exegetical 6 ordinary day Creationist, I believe in an historical Adam who probably didn’t have a belly button, and my favorite self-identifier is the same as Derek Thomas’ self-appellation: a plain vanilla Calvinist. I believe in applying the Regulative Principle, and in the ordinary means of grace. I am amillenial and neither a Theonomist/Reconstructionist nor a full throated Two Kingdoms (or R2K or whatever) guy. If you want to know what I believe about doctrine open up the Confession. There it is.
So I am one that would be a possible sympathizer with Webb’s document, and his trajectory. However, at this time: I am not. Not because I am never against leaving, but because the reasons cited do not rise to the level of leaving and writing the proverbial “Ichabod” above the PCA’s door post. [1 Samuel 4:21]
I will interact with Webb’s points in reverse order: