I know that legalism exists in a lot of forms. Self-Righteousness is insidious and must be repented of wherever it rears its head in every wing of the PCA. But this issue of loophole legalism and obfuscation in the use of language is insidious. While men are playing fast and loose with language the sheep are becoming confused and the watching world isn’t told the truth. Brothers, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with With God, and the Word Was God. – John 1:1
God is not a God of confusion but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33
Much ink, um, keystrokes have been typed regarding the source of the divide in the PCA. We have been told by Progressives (in the Bryan Chapell sense of the term) that we are just misunderstanding each other and that we actually agree. All of these never-ending disagreements are actually agreements. We supposedly agree on what the Westminster Standards mean as well as the AIC Report on Human Sexuality and the one on Women in Ministry also. We supposedly agree to follow the BCO. That does of course depend on what you mean by the word “agree.”
We don’t even agree on what words mean, let alone complex systems of doctrine or AIC reports that simply provide guidance. The two wings of the PCA are completely divided on women deacons, women preachers, human sexuality as it relates to identity, appropriate missional posture, Revoice, CRT, Side B Gay Christianity, and clarity of speech. You object? It all depends on what one means by preaching, deacon, corporate worship, and every other word in this article.
This whole thing is reminiscent of when Bill Clinton uttered the brilliant words “it depends on what the meaning of the word is is” nearly 25 years ago. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. Playing fast and loose with words and clarity in our Lord’s Church is no laughing matter. Quite frankly, it’s sad.
How long before “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” becomes “well that depends on what you mean by yes and no. In one sense it is yes and in another sense it is no.?” Brothers and sisters, sadly, we are already there.
It is Pharisaical Legalism at Its Core
Seeing the letter of the law in our Standards, the BCO, AIC Reports, and Scripture itself then looking for ways to do what one wants to do is Pharisaical legalism. It is legalistic to look for workarounds, loopholes, and wiggle room to do mission. No amount of law or guidance will prevent a legalist from pursuing these things. No language will either.
It is Pharisaical legalism to install women to the roll of Deacon and serving in the same function as a Deacon all done in a process that is almost undistinguishable from an ordained Deacon but say she is an Assistant.
It is Pharisaical legalism to not have the office of deacon at all, but to have another made up board of men and women doing everything the diaconate is supposed to do.
It is Pharisaical legalism to have women teaching and/or preaching assembled Christians at Corporate Worship and say she didn’t, but rather she exhorted at a study.
It is Pharisaical legalism to host a Transvestite Celebration on property that is owned by the church through a ministry run by church leadership/members but say it was separate from the Church because the building it was held in was “decommissioned” and the organization that runs the ministry is separate from the Church.
It is Pharisaical legalism to plant non-PCA churches or start para-church ministries that are overseen by PCA churches, officers, and members that do all the things not permitted in the PCA.
It is Pharisaical legalism to look at the AIC Report on Human Sexuality and say we agree with it, but then ignore all that it advises against because it doesn’t say “shall not” or “shall,” thereby justifying the wholesale use of what the spirit of the report calls unwise and must be rejected.